Walleye add experienced defensemen

O'Neill, Walker added to Toledo in offseason

9/5/2012
BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Toledo Walleye signed two experienced defensemen on Tuesday, including former Kalamazoo captain Wes O'Neill.

O'Neill, who is 6 feet, 4 inches and 215 pounds, has played in 261 pro games.

O'Neill also made it to the NHL on two occasions. He played in three games with Colorado in 2008-09 and also appeared in two games for the Avalanche in 2009-10.

Toledo also agreed to terms with David Walker, a defenseman who has played in 474 pro games, including 391 in the ECHL.

O'Neill, 26, was named captain of the Kalamazoo Wings team last season and finished with two points in 29 games.

Walleye coach Nick Vitucci called O'Neill "a true top-flight defenseman."

"Wes has a terrific skill set and brings a ton of leadership and experience to our club," Vitucci said. "We have had a chance to watch him up close over the past two years with Kalamazoo and like how he handles all situations on the ice. He is extremely sound in his own end."

Walker, who has played for Ontario and Long Beach in the ECHL, has collected 830 penalty minutes, 36 goals, and 152 assists in his career.

The 6-foot, 200-pound defenseman served as Ontario's captain during the 2010-11, his last season in the ECHL. He played last year in Germany.

O'Neill, at native of Windsor, Ont., played the last two seasons with Kalamazoo. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the New York Islanders in 2004.

O'Neill also has played four seasons in the American Hockey League. In five NHL games, he has no points and six penalty minutes.

O'Neill, who also has played for Johnstown in the ECHL, played in college at Notre Dame.

Walker started his professional career in 2004-05 with Long Beach (ECHL).

Prior to turning pro, the 33-year-old played college hockey at Dalhousie University in Canada. He also spent three years playing Junior Hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Walleye will open the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 13 against Kalamazoo. Tickets are available at toledowalleye.com or at 419-725-9255.