Destination Sweden: #Pens RFA Holzapfel SIgns Two-Year Deal With HV71

Thursday, July 4, 2013
Photo courtesy of Amy's WBS Picture Page

Another day, another Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins player from last year's team turning into a former Penguin. This one comes as a bit of a shock to me as forward Riley Holzapfel has signed a two-year contract with HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).

Holzapfel was tendered a qualifying offer from the Penguins earlier this week but instead decides to head overseas like so many of his teammates in Wilkes-Barre have done this offseason. Holzapgel might see a familiar face in former teammate Chad Kolarik over in Sweden as Kolarik inked a two-year deal with Linkoping (SHL) last week.

Holzapfel is coming off a career year with the Penguins last season, where he posted career highs in goals (21) and assists (30), while appearing in 76 regular season games - most of which were on the AHL Penguins top line.  Holzapfel continued to produce in the playoffs with the AHL Pens, where he posted 10 points (4G-6A) in 15 playoff games.

So two of the three main staples of the WBS top-line have found new homes in Sweden. The third, forward Trevor Smith, will become available to all 30 NHL teams tomorrow as he is still an unsigned unrestricted free agent (UFA).

I think it's safe to say that the AHL Penguins are undergoing a major re-tooling of their roster and while it often happens in the top minor league to the NHL, the Penguins lineup in 2013-14 will be almost completely different.

If you missed it yesterday, defenseman and captain of the WBS Penguins last season Joey Mormina signed a two-year AHL deal with rival Syracuse.

For those keeping score at home, here's the full list of guys on last year's roster that have signed elsewhere for next season:
Dylan Reese - One-year deal with Amur Khabarovsk (KHL)
Joey Mormina - Two-year AHL contract with Syracuse (AHL)
Phil Dupuis - One-year deal with Hamburg Freezers (DEL)
Alex Grant - Traded to Anaheim, qualified RFA for Norfolk (AHL)
Riley Holzapfel - Two-year deal with HV71 (SHL)
Chad Kolarik - Two-year deal with Linkoping (SHL)

Still yet to sign for next year are Penguins UFA's Brad Thiessen, Trevor Smith and Warren Peters. Thiessen has told the media already that he will be heading to free agency. Will Peters and Smith follow Thiessen into the free agent market tomorrow?

I'll have a free agency preview up later today, so stay tuned for that. It'll include a look at the AHL Penguins roster as it stands now, a preliminary depth chart, a look at team needs and some details about what my plans for tomorrow are to keep everyone interested up to date on the latest signings affecting the WBS Penguins as well as where former Pens players end up.

To steal a line from Bob Dylan - Times They Are A-Changin'


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