After five seasons in the AHL, Riley Holzapfel has decided to pack his bags and head to Sweden.
It was announced today that the 24-year-old center has signed a deal with Jönköping, Sweden’s HV71. The deal will keep Holzapfel in the Swedish Hockey League (formerly Elitserien) for the next two seasons. According to HV71’s release, Holzapfel is expected to join the club at the end of this month.
Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, Holzapfel was never given a shot with the big club, and never had a breakout year in the AHL. A two-way center, Holzapfel’s point production had always been steady, but his totals never eye-popping.
In 335 career AHL games with the Chicago Wolves, St. John’s Ice Caps, Syracuse Crunch, and Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Holzapfel tallied 69 goals and 101 assists. As a member of the Penguins last season, the Regina, Sask. native had a career-high 51 points (21-30).
One is left to wonder if Holzapfel is a casualty of the veteran restrictions on the AHL clubs. While he’s been in the AHL for five full seasons, he is still only 24 and could still be considered a work in progress. However, sitting at a handful of games over 320 career pro contests, Holzapfel takes one of only four or five veteran roster spots.