WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce four more player signings for the 2022-23 season. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Adam Smith, as well as forwards Bobby Hampton, Félix Paré, and Tyler Drevitch. The Nailers have now signed eight players for the upcoming season, and all eight are returning players from the team that reached the 2022 Central Division Final.
"When I was here as a player, it was important for the team to keep an identity," said Nailers Head Coach Derek Army. "We do a great job of helping players reach a higher level, but moving forward, it's also important that we don't lose the identity that we have. In the players we have already brought back, we feel like we are going to be able to maintain that identity and carry it along to the next group of players that become Nailers."
Smith, 25, has played two seasons with the Nailers and three in the ECHL, and is a very reliable player on the blueline. Adam led Wheeling with a +17 rating in a team-high 66 games, and nearly doubled his offensive production from the previous season, as he accumulated five goals, 18 assists, and 23 points. The Sharon, Ontario native enjoyed a strong month of December, as he posted a +10 rating, notched seven points, and appeared in two AHL games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. 2022 was Smith's first taste of postseason action, as he appeared in all 11 games to complement his 170 career regular season contests as a pro. Prior to turning pro, Adam attended Bowling Green State University for four years.
"Adam is a big leader on our team, and we can turn to him to play in every situation," Army said. "He plays a very steady game on the back end, and is a huge reason we were able to get where we did this season."
Hampton, 24, is coming off of his first pro season, which saw him amass seven goals, ten assists, and 17 points in 50 games with the Nailers. Bobby made his debut on November 7th against Indy, recorded his first career point with an assist on December 4th at Toledo, then netted his first professional goal on December 17th at Norfolk, which came during his season-best five-game point streak. The Middletown, New Jersey native played in a variety of different roles, and was a very disciplined player, as he was only whistled for five minor penalties all year. Prior to turning pro, Hampton played three seasons of college hockey - two at Northeastern University and one at Penn State University.
"Bobby is the ultimate Swiss Army knife, as we were able to utilize him in every role," said Army. "He is a great teammate, and he came through in a lot of big games for us."
Paré, 22, is also coming off of his first season as a pro, as he compiled seven goals, seven assists, 14 points, and 72 penalty minutes in 54 games with Wheeling. After making his debut on October 30th at Wichita, Félix's season got rolling quickly, as he dished out an assist in the home opener against Fort Wayne on November 6th for his first point, then tallied a pair of goals against the Komets in a 5-4 overtime win on November 14th. Another strong run for the Levis, Québec native came in the middle of January, when he lit the lamp in three consecutive contests - all of which were victories. Paré's presence in the lineup was very noticeable, as the Nailers were nine games over .500 when he played and three games under .500 when he didn't. Prior to turning pro, Félix played five seasons of junior hockey in the Québec Major Junior Hockey League with the Victoriaville Tigres and Cape Breton Eagles.
"We counted on Félix in a lot of different situations, and he excelled on face-offs and on the penalty kill," Army said. "He plays a hard and physical game, his teammates love him, and he has a lot of potential as a pro."
Drevitch, 26, has played in two seasons with the Nailers, and all of his numbers increased from year one to year two, as he finished the 2021-22 campaign with five goals, four assists, nine points, and 112 penalty minutes in 45 games. Tyler is built for intense rivalries, and that showed with his productivity as well, as eight of his nine points came against Central Division opponents. One of the Middleboro, Massachusetts native's biggest games of the season was his playoff debut, which came in the thrilling game seven victory over Fort Wayne, as he assisted on the tying goal to ultimately forced overtime. Prior to turning pro, Drevitch attended Merrimack University for four years.
"Tyler is a player who will do whatever he can to help the team, and because of that, he is very well-liked in the locker room," said Army. "He brings a lot of energy at key times, and we saw that especially in game seven against Fort Wayne."
The Wheeling Nailers will begin their 31st season on Saturday, October 22nd, when they host the Toledo Walleye at 7:10. Season memberships are available for the 2022-23 season by visiting wheelingnailers.com or calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.