The offseason is starting to be in full swing now and that means contract extensions or departures for players. Today, we have news of three Polish players leaving their clubs in the Oberliga. The Oberliga is the third level of hockey in Germany.
Dawid Zabolotny is the biggest player of the three. The 25-year-old goalie signed in Germany last season after five seasons with JKH GKS Jastrzebie in the PHL. He joined the club EV Lindau and would play 20 games. His play was good enough to earn a contract for the 2018-19 season, though Zabolotny had received some higher offers it meant less playing time. His contract did have an opt-out clause if he chose to pursue a stronger challenge. Zabolotny would spend the entirety of the season in the Oberliga and thrive. In 44 games, he would post a .916 sv% that ranked third among all goalies with at least 10 games played. It now appears though, that Zabolotny will be pursuing a new stronger challenge as in their release about his departure they mentioned that Zabolotny will be signing in the DEL2, the second level of German hockey, or the Alps Hockey League, a somewhat new hockey league made up of clubs from Austria, Itlay, and Slovenia. As for his national team career, Zabolotny has played and started for Poland at the U18 and U20 IIHF world championships, as well as being named to multiple national team rosters. He has yet to make his senior national team debut, but at 25-years-old while most of his roster competition in their 30s, we should start to see him more. He was not one of the three goalies selected by Tomek Valtonen to play at the World Championships.
The next player was a teammate of Zabolotny on EV Lindau, Filip Stopinski. Stopinski was in the midst of a career year with Orlik Opole during the 2017-18 season with 17 points (8G, (9A) in 20 games. Unfortunately, an illness would end his season, and a contract dispute would lead to him leaving the PHL altogether. He would return to the Oberliga where he played in 2013-14 with Füchse Duisburg. It was a rough season for Stopinski, who failed to carry his previous year success over to the Oberliga only recording 19 points (7G, 12A) in 50 games. “Filip, despite his skating skills and a solid work in the defensive sector, unfortunately, could not meet the expectations set in him,” said Sascha Paul, the team’s sports director. It is unknown of his plans for the next season. Stopinski made his senior team debut in 2016-17 playing one game at a Euro Ice Hockey Challenge. He was not selected to any of Tomek Valtonen’s national teams’ rosters this year.
The final and the most recent release was Thomas Ziolkowski. Ziolkowski kinda came out of nowhere and raised some eyebrows when he was announced as part of Tomek Valtonen’s roster for the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Poland, along with some exhibition games. Ziolkowski a Polish-German defenseman has played in the Oberliga most of his career with a few seasons in the DEL2. This year with the Hannover Indians, he managed 25 points (2G, 23A) in 41 games. In the team’s release, they mentioned that the 30-year-old had signed with an unnamed Oberliga competitor. Despite, Ziolkowksi inclusion on a lot of Valtonen early rosters, mainly thought to be due to the protest of Polish players wanting better conditions, he was left off the roster for the World Championships. It could also be in part due to the fact he by IIHF rules Ziolkowski maybe not eligible to play for Poland. His IIHF status is currently unsure.
Update 4/27. Thomas Ziolkowski new team has been unveiled. Last night, Herner EV 2007 announced the singing. Herner EV 2007 finished 6th in Oberliga Nord last year.