WICHITA, KS – Right shot forwards are a commodity for any team, and anytime you’re able to get one who is a proven scorer in the ECHL, you make the deal.
Thursday, the Wichita Thunder did just that.
The team announced they acquired Justin Crandall from the Reading Royals for the rights
to defenseman Nolan Zajac. Also, Crandall has signed a contract with the Thunder for the 2017-18 season.
“I really enjoyed my time inReading and can’t thank my coaches and teammates enough for a great year,” said Crandall. “However I am extremely excited to get a fresh start and join the thunder this year. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the organization and Coach Cameron.”
Crandall comes to Wichita after spending the last two seasons with the Reading Royals, where he played in 120 games and collected 113 points during that stretch. In addition, Crandall was a member of the 2017 ECHL All-Star team.
The only time Crandall has missed in his pro career has been to call-ups. He has played nine games in the American Hockey League with two different clubs; Chicago Wolves and Albany Devils. In those games, he collected three points (1G, 2A).
“Justin is a dynamic offensive threat and has a very high hockey IQ,” commented Head Coach Malcolm Cameron. “With the players we have signed and expect to get from our affiliate he will fit in nicely.”
Zajac, who turned 25 on this week, had an explosive run in his rookie year, racking up 54 points (11G, 43A) and 27 penalty minutes—while playing to a +31 in 61 games with the Toledo Walleye. His fifty-four points were fifth best amongst defensemen in the league last season; his 43 assists were fourth most amongst ECHL d-men. For his efforts, he was selected to represent the Walleye in the 2017 ECHL All-Star Classic in Glens Falls, New York, last January; and he was ultimately named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team at the conclusion of the regular season.
Zajac also played eleven regular season games in the American Hockey League last year (1G,4A = 5 pts, 4 PIMs) with the Hershey Bears, Manitoba Moose, and Iowa Wild. He completed his rookie year by racking up nine assists in sixteen playoff games with the Walleye, who advanced to the Western Conference Finals before being eliminated by the eventual Kelly Cup Champion Colorado Eagles.
The Thunder will announce their third signing of the week on Friday.