Baumer makes the cut

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

He wasn't the biggest or fastest guy, but Nolan Baumgartner won the battle for a spot on the Vancouver Canucks blue-line.

As expected, the National Hockey League club did some major pruning of its roster yesterday, reassigning or releasing seven players from its training camp.

Among those not on the list, the Manitoba Moose captain of a year ago.

"It's great for Baumer that he's stuck there," Moose vice president of hockey operations and GM Craig Heisinger said. "He's worked a long time to get there.

"Hopefully, he can hang in there."

In a fight right from the start of training camp, the nine-year veteran beat out fellow Moose Tomas Mojzis and Kevin Bieksa, along with off-season pick-up Sven Butenschon, junior standout Luc Bourdon, and free agent (and former Winnipeg Jet) Jason Doig for the No. 6 defenceman role.

Vancouver seems to agree with the 29-year-old. In 17 regular season games with the Canucks, Baumgartner has six points (one goal, five assists). In 31 career NHL games at stops in Washington, Chicago and Pittsburgh, he has just two helpers.

Other Moose making the parent club are centre Ryan Kesler, enforcer Wade Brookbank and goaltender Alex Auld. Auld beat out former St. Louis Blues netminder Brent Johnson for the right to caddy for incumbent Dan Cloutier.

While Bourdon was sent back to junior and Doig was released outright, Vancouver placed Butenschon, forward Josh Green, and Johnson on waivers with the aim of sending them to Manitoba.

Should those three clear waivers today, a total of five players will be joining the Moose; a significant upgrade in talent to the American Hockey League team, especially on the back end.

"For sure, but we want (tomorrow) morning to come and go from there," a hesitant Heisinger said, noting a goaltending tandem of Wade Flaherty and Johnson would be one of the better pairings in the league. "Certainly if we add those guys, it will give us more depth to our team, no question about that."

Definitely coming to Winnipeg will be Mojzis and Bieksa, the former surprising many Moose followers with his extended stay at Canucks camp.

Don't count Heisinger in that group. He feels the new NHL rules will help the Czech-born rearguard.

"With his ability to skate, it bodes well for his future," the GM said.

"I'm not surprised he had a good camp."

As for Bieksa, he's still bothered by a high ankle sprain suffered last month.

The Canucks have 24 people in camp and are budgeted to start the season with 21 players. Former Moose skaters still fighting for a job are Lee Goren, Fedor Fedorov and Tyler Bouck. Jason King remains on the shelf with post-concussion symptoms.

The Moose are back up to at least 27 players in camp (possibly 30 come tomorrow morning). They would like to be down to 22 by mid-week.

The club resumes practice today and faces the Manitoba Bisons in an exhibition game tomorrow at Max Bell Arena (7 p.m.).

Manitoba starts the 2005-06 season in Peoria on Friday.


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