Then and Now: Nolan Baumgartner

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After the New York Islanders picked Brett Lindros ninth overall in the 1994 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals selected defenseman Nolan Baumgartner.

The four players picked after the Canadian d-man were former San Jose Shark and New Jersey Devil Jeff Friesen, Wade Belak, Mattias Ohlund, and Ethan Moreau. All four of those players turned out to play more seasons in the NHL than Baumgartner, who totaled 10 years at hockey’s highest level.

Baumgartner suited up for the Caps, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, and the Pittsburgh Penguins before he became a member of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2006. The blue liner signed a two-year deal with the Orange and Black which awarded him $1.2 million each year. Unfortunately for Philly, Baumgartner was part of the organization for just seven months.

The former Kamloops Blazer spent six games with the Flyers and 51 games with the Philadelphia Phantoms before he was claimed off of waivers by the Dallas Stars in late February of 2007.

Baumgartner’s six games with the Orange and Black were Philly’s first six games of the 2006-2007 campaign. With the club going 1-4-1 in his span with them, Baumgartner had one assist and 21 penalty minutes. In his time with the Phantoms, Baumgartner registered six goals and 20 helpers in 51 contests before being taken by the Stars.

The defender suited up for seven tilts with Stars, as he produced two assists and didn’t record a single penalty to help the squad finish sixth in the Western Conference. Although Dallas made the 2007 NHL playoffs, Baumgartner didn’t play in a single postseason game.

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His seven-game stretch with Dallas was the last time he’d taste NHL action for over two seasons, as the defenseman played in the AHL for the entirety of the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons.

The majority of the 2007-2008 campaign saw Baumgartner as a member of the Iowa Stars. Alongside former Flyer Jussi Timonen, former Phantom Dan Jancevski, and current Flyer Nicklas Grossmann, Baumgartner racked up five goals and 13 assists along with 47 PIMs in 56 contests for the AHL club.

The Caps’ draft pick also participated in 18 games with the Manitoba Moose, where he produced six assists and 10 PIMs with a plus-8 rating. The Moose also reached the 2008 AHL playoffs, but didn’t last long, as they fell to the Syracuse Crunch in six games during the opening round of the postseason. Baumgartner took part in three tilts for the Moose in the series, as the blue liner provided an assist, four PIMs, and a minus-1 rating.

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Baumgartner spent the entire 2008-2009 season with Manitoba, as he earned the honor of being an alternate captain. Former Dallas Star Mike Keane served as the club’s captain, while current Winnipeg Jet Jason Jaffray and former Star Maxime Fortunus also served as alternate captains.

While Baumgartner set his professional high for goals in a season with 11, the defender helped the Moose complete their most successful campaign out of the 10 years they were in the AHL. In addition to finishing first in the league with 50 wins and 107 points, Manitoba reached the Calder Cup Finals before they lost to the Hershey Bears in six contests. After they beat the Toronto Marlies in six games and swept the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Moose knocked the Houston Aeros out in six tilts before losing in the club’s only Finals’ appearance. Baumgartner suited up in all 22 of Manitoba’s postseason games in 2009, as the defenseman had five assists and 22 PIMs.

In 2009-2010, Baumgartner returned as an alternate captain for the Moose, but also saw NHL action again.

The d-man, who saw former Flyers Nick Boynton and Marty Murray join his team along with Flyers’ draft pick Rejean Beauchemin, manufactured three goals and nine helpers in 12 contests for Manitoba. Baumgartner also had 22 PIMs and minus-9 rating in the AHL for 2009-2010.

In his return to the NHL, Baumgartner played in 11 games for the Canucks, as he suited up for Vancouver in contests from late January to April 10th, 2010. He had an assist and a plus-7 rating in his time with the Nucks, but more importantly he ended a painfully long goal drought in the NHL.

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With a goal in the first period of the Canucks’ 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 12, 2010, Baumgartner registered his first goal in the NHL since his last tenure with Vancouver in the 2005-2006 season. The tally snapped a 42-game goalless span that lasted over four years and three different NHL teams (go to :51).

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Baumgartner also played in his final NHL playoff game with the Canucks during the 2010 postseason. Although the defender didn’t produce a single point, he helped the ‘Nucks win Game 4 over the Los Angeles Kings 6-4 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to even the series at two games apiece. Since he didn’t register a goal in the win, Baumgartner went goalless in four NHL playoff games over his career.

The Calgary native spent his final two seasons as a player in the AHL, as he was the captain of both of the squads he played for.

Baumgartner’s 2010-2011 year was spent as captain of the Moose. With Ryan Parent spending a lot of time with Manitoba in his fist year with the Vancouver organization, Baumgartner had four goals and 25 assists in 66 contests. He had the second-most points for a defender on the team behind current Winnipeg Jet Mark Flood.

As for the 2011 AHL playoffs, Baumgartner led the Moose to the Divisional Finals. After they beat the Lake Erie Monsters in a seven-game Divisional Semifinals, the Moose fell to the Hamilton Bulldogs in seven games the following round. Baumgartner had three assists and 10 PIMs with a plus-2 rating while he appeared in all 14 playoff games for Manitoba.

Baumgartner spent last season with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, but Vancouver’s affiliate switched from the Moose to the Chicago Wolves. The Wolves were formerly the Atlanta Thrashers’ affiliate.

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In addition to Parent being a member of the Wolves, the trio of Nicola Riopel, J.P. Testwuide, and Matt Clackson joined Baumgartner’s side in Chicago for the 2011-2012 campaign. The blue liner played in 60 games for the Wolves and produced two goals and 20 assists to help his club reach the 2012 AHL playoffs. As the three-seed in the Western Conference, Baumgartner and the Wolves were upset by the six-seed San Antonio Rampage in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. In the five games it took for the Wolves to be eliminated, Baumgartner had two assists and a pair of PIMs with a plus-3 rating.

In early July of 2012, Baumgartner retired from playing and became an assistant for the Wolves this season. Chicago currently sits 12th in the Western Conference with 32 points in 29 games.