Craig Wolanin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Craig Wolanin
Born (1967-07-27) July 27, 1967 (age 52)
Grosse Pointe, Michigan, U.S.
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Defense
Shot Left
Played for New Jersey Devils
Quebec Nordiques
Colorado Avalanche
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
National team  United States
NHL Draft 3rd overall, 1985
New Jersey Devils
Playing career 1985–1999

Craig William Wolanin (born July 27, 1967 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan) is an American former professional ice hockey defenseman who played thirteen seasons in the National Hockey League from 1985 until 1997–98.

Early career[edit]

Wolanin is a native of Grosse Pointe, Michigan.[citation needed] As a youth, he played in the 1980 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with the Detroit Paddock minor ice hockey team.[1]

Wolanin played one season for the Compuware program recording eight goals, 42 assists and 86 penalty minutes, while helping the Compuware team win the Michigan AAA state hockey championship.[citation needed] Seeking competition and looking to improve his draft stock, Wolanin elected to play for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Wolanin recorded five goals, 16 assists and 95 penalty minutes. Despite not being an offensive player, his defensive prowess made him a sought after prospect leading into the 1985 NHL Entry Draft.[citation needed]

New Jersey Devils[edit]

Wolanin was selected third overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. Wolanin would make his NHL debut on 10 October 1985 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Upon making his NHL debut at 18 years and 2 months in the 1985-86 season, Wolanin became the youngest player in the history of the Scouts/Rockies/Devils franchise to make his debut. Wolanin played 44 games during his rookie season, recording two goals, 16 assists and 74 penalty minutes.[2]

Wolanin established himself as a mainstay on the Devils blueline in his second season, recording four goals, six assists and 109 penalty minutes. The following season, he paired with Ken Daneyko on the Devils blueline for most of the season. During the 1988 Stanley Cup playoffs, Wolanin scored the first playoff goal for the Devils franchise in Game 1 of the Wales Conference Quarterfinals.

Wolanin battled injuries and consistency during his final full season with the Devils. After spending a portion of the 1988-89 season on injury reserve. Wolanin was a healthy scratch for seven of the Devils first eight games of the 1989-90 season. In search of playing time, Wolanin was assigned to the Devils farm affiliate in Utica. Unhappy with his role on the team, Wolanin requested a trade from the Devils, which was fulfilled on 6 March 1990, when Wolanin and future considerations (Randy Velischek) were traded to the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for Peter Stastny.[3][4]

Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche[edit]

Wolanin welcomed the move to Quebec with open arms, as he felt he was able to play without having the pressure of being a leader on the blueline thrust upon him. While Wolanin embraced a full-time role on the Nordiques blue line, the team was a perennial doormat in the standings. Wolanin established himself as an anchor on the Nordiques defense, became known for his defensive prowess and ability of clearing opposing players from the front of the net. Wolanin played in a career high 80 games during the 1990-91 season, earning an invitation to play for the U.S. National team at the 1991 IIHF World Hockey championship at the end of the season. Wolanin would miss significant time throughout the rest of his tenure with the Nordiques, battling various injuries.

Following the sale and relocation of the Nordiques to Denver prior to the start of the 1995-96 season, Wolanin's rights were transferred to the franchise who would become known as the Colorado Avalanche. Wolanin's lone season in Colorado was where he posted his best statistical season, recording seven goals and 20 assists in 75 games. The Avalanche would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season. However, Wolanin's tenure with the team ended on a sour note, as he would go on to play just seven games during the team's championship run. Wolanin turned the puck over in the Avalanche's end in Game 3 of the team's Western Conference semi-final series against the Chicago Blackhawks, which led to Sergei Krivokrasov's overtime goal to put the Hawks up two games to one. Following that game, Wolanin's gaffe led to an argument between Patrick Roy and head coach Marc Crawford, who opted to sit him for the rest of the playoffs. However since Wolanin played in 75 games that season, he qualified to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.[5]

Later career[edit]

Wolanin was traded by the Avalanche to the Tampa Bay Lightning on 21 June 1996 in exchange for the Lightning's 2nd round draft pick in 1998 (Ramzi Abid). Wolanin's tenure with the Lightning lasted 15 games, as he struggled with consistency and injuries throughout the course of the season. The Lightning would trade Wolanin to the Toronto Maple Leafs on 1 February 1997 in exchange for the Leafs 3rd round pick in 1998 (Alex Henry). Wolanin would play a total of 33 games over two seasons with the Leafs, missing the majority of the 1997-98 season due to a knee injury. Wolanin would attempt a comeback in time for the 1998-99 season. With no interest from NHL teams, Wolanin skated with the IHL's Detroit Vipers for 16 games, recording five assists before announcing his retirement from professional hockey.


Wolanin met his wife, Chantal, while playing for the Nordiques. The couple have two children; a son, Christian, who was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and a daughter, Caroline. The family resides in Rochester, Michigan.[6]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1984–85 Kitchener Rangers OHL 60 5 16 21 95 4 1 1 2 2
1985–86 New Jersey Devils NHL 44 2 16 18 74
1986–87 New Jersey Devils NHL 68 4 6 10 109
1987–88 New Jersey Devils NHL 78 6 25 31 170 18 2 5 7 51
1988–89 New Jersey Devils NHL 56 3 8 11 69
1989–90 Utica Devils AHL 6 2 4 6 2
1989–90 New Jersey Devils NHL 37 1 7 8 47
1989–90 Quebec Nordiques NHL 13 0 3 3 10
1990–91 Quebec Nordiques NHL 80 5 13 18 89
1991–92 Quebec Nordiques NHL 69 2 11 13 80
1992–93 Quebec Nordiques NHL 24 1 4 5 49 4 0 0 0 4
1993–94 Quebec Nordiques NHL 63 6 10 16 80
1994–95 Quebec Nordiques NHL 40 3 6 9 40 6 1 1 2 4
1995–96 Colorado Avalanche NHL 75 7 20 27 50 7 1 0 1 8
1996–97 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 15 0 0 0 8
1996–97 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 23 0 4 4 13
1997–98 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 10 0 0 0 6
1998–99 Detroit Vipers IHL 16 0 5 5 21 11 0 0 0 12
NHL totals 695 40 133 173 894 35 4 6 10 67


Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
1987 United States WJC 4th 9 0 0 0 32
1991 United States CC 2nd 8 0 2 2 2
1991 United States WC 4th 10 2 2 4 22
1994 United States WC 4th 8 2 1 3 4
Junior totals 9 0 0 0 32
Senior totals 26 4 5 9 28


  1. ^ "Pee-Wee players who have reached NHL or WHA" (PDF). Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 2018. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  2. ^ Craig W. Wolanin
  3. ^ [url= 1985 NHL Entry Draft - Craig Wolanin]
  4. ^ Devils acquire Stastny for Wolanin
  5. ^ Quebec Nordiques Legends: Craig Wolanin
  6. ^ Warren, Ken (March 22, 2018). "Christian Wolanin races into NHL debut with Senators". Ottawa Sun. Retrieved March 24, 2018.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Kirk Muller
New Jersey Devils first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Neil Brady