Nick Wolff’s North American pro debut may be on hold, but he will be playing professionally in Europe sooner rather than later. The University of Minnesota-Duluth standout, who signed with the Boston Bruins this spring, has joined Hungarian club DVTK Jegesmedvék on loan, the team announced. Like so many player loans being issued right now, the deal between the Bruins and Polar Bears extends until NHL training camp opens, after which Wolff will return. The left-handed defenseman is expected to play a key role for DVTK until then.
Why exactly did Wolff end up in Hungary? DVTK actually plays in the Slovakian Extraliga, joining the league via expansion in 2018. The club then made their playoff debut the same year and were headed back last season before the season was canceled. However, the real draw lies not with the Polar Bears’ upstart success, but with Wolff’s connections to the club. His former junior head coach with the USHL’s De Moines Buccaneers, Dave Allison, is now the head coach at DVTK, while former Duluth teammate Kyle Osterburg also plays for the club. Boston likely would have been willing to loan Wolff to any team to get his season underway, but it might have made their decision easier knowing that former Bruin Rob Flick is also a member of the team.
While the Slovakian Extraliga is not exactly comparable to the NHL, it will get Wolff ready to compete in the AHL in 2020-21. A four-year starter for Duluth, Wolff was a dominant stay-at-home defender who contributed decent offense as well. Wolff’s 6’5″, 230-lb. frame alone makes him a formidable pro, but he is unlikely to play at the NHL level too quickly. Wolff will need time to adjust to the speed of the pro game and to continue to develop his skating and skill, but the Bruins can give him that time. Although the club’s starting defense lineup is still up in the air entering free agency, especially on the left side, Boston is deep in pro defense prospects, again also on the left side, and Wolff is unlikely to move up the depth chart this year.