Infusion of New Blood has Begun

Hard to believe it’s here already, but it’s ATO season.

The college and Junior regular seasons have ended, and players from those teams that did not make their respective playoffs are starting to make their way into the pro ranks, via Amateur Tryout (ATO) contracts, and the Wolf Pack inked their first newcomer today.

Nick Latta (sarniasting.com)

Nick Latta (sarniasting.com)

He’s Nick Latta, a forward from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting.  Latta, 20, scored 38 goals for the Sting this season in his fourth year with the club, a total that tied him for the team lead.  He also added 28 assists for 66 points, third-best on the team, and had 87 penalty minutes, the fourth-highest total on the Sting squad.  Latta was an ugly -41, but that seems to be more of a reflection of the tough season the team had than of any particular deficiencies on Latta’s part, as Sarnia finished with an OHL-low 41 points, and their top four scorers were all -30 or lower.

Latta’s heritage is Canadian, but he was born in Pelting, Germany, where his father, Ken Latta, was playing.  Ken Latta was a fourth-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1981 and played one year in the old Atlantic Coast Hockey League (the predecessor of the ECHL), before heading overseas.  He had a long playing career in Germany and is still coaching there, and his brother, Nick’s uncle David Latta, was an NHL first-rounder in 1985, selected 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques, and got into 36 NHL games with the Nords during an 11-year pro career.

So Nick Latta has some good bloodlines, and he may get a chance to get some game action in with the Wolf Pack.  Oftentimes guys on ATOs are just in to get a taste of the pro life and show their stuff in practice, but the Wolf Pack right now have only 13 healthy forwards on the roster, counting Latta.  That’s after Josh Nicholls was returned to Greenville today following practice.  Justin Vaive practiced today for the first time since he was shut down two weeks ago, but it sounds like he might still be a game or two away from returning to the lineup.

Latta lists his hometown as Thunder Bay, Ontario, but it seems as though part of his heart resides in Deutschland.  The first item on his Twitter profile is “fan of FC Bayern Munchen”.

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