Baumgartner's recall 'bittersweet'

David W. Unkle-- For SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 11:39 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA—It’s easy to see why Nolan Baumgartner has attracted attention at the NHL Trade Deadline.

When the Flyers rolled the dice Friday night and recalled the 30-year-old defenceman from their AHL-affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms alternate captain called the decision “bittersweet.”

Possibly looking at a fresh start with another organisation, the former 1st round pick of the Washington Capitals (10th overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Baumgartner still feels that he “owes something” to the Flyers organisation for inking him to a two-year deal in July 2006.

“I never really got a start (with the Flyers), so I’d like the chance to finish out the season with them and then compete for a (roster) spot in training camp next season,” said Baumgartner.

When Baumgartner was signed as an unrestricted free agent by then-general manager Bob Clarke, he was expected to shore up the blue line for the Flyers, but lasted only six games with the Orange and Black.

A slow start under former Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock earned Baumgartner a reassignment to the Phantoms on Oct. 24, 2006 along with Niko Dimitrakos and the since-departed Petr Nedved.

Baumgartner took the move in stride and has been one of the Phantoms’ most-consistent players all season, tallying six goals and 26 points in 51 games with the Phantoms, including a season-high, five points (1G, 4A) against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Jan. 26, 2007. He was named a starter on the Canadian roster for the 2007 Rbk Hockey All-Star Game.

“They told me at the beginning of the year that they would try and slip me through waivers and if it happens, that’s great,” said Baumgartner. “I’m grateful for the chance and that’s what Mr. Holmgren said he was going to do and he’s a man of his word. If I get picked up by another team then hopefully it’s a team that is going to make the (Stanley Cup) playoffs and is looking for depth on defence.”

This is where Baumgartner’s value becomes evident.

“When you’ve played with a group of guys all season, you never want to leave in a situation like this,” said Baumgartner. “If I have to leave (the Phantoms), it sucks since we’re trying to build something here and get ourselves in the (Calder Cup) playoffs.”

The wait to see which sweater Baumgartner dons on Saturday will be difficult, but with the same demeanor that he accepted his demotion at the beginning of the season, he’s ready to help his next team.

“It will be tough, but whatever happens, happens…either way, it’s going to be exciting.”

David Unkle can be reached at: topcatsports@canoemail.com

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