Nathan Longpre read a letter this week from the Chicago Wolves informing him he needed to find a new place to live. But that's not as bad as it sounds for Longpre, a fourth-line forward and penalty killer.
The Wolves signed Longpre to a standard player's contract Monday that will keep him with the team for the rest of the season. He'd been playing under a professional tryout contract, which is only a 25-game agreement, since the season started. Until now, Longpre was living in a hotel while the Wolves picked up the tab. He's looking for a more permanent place now.
The deal gives Longpre some much-needed security in other ways, as well.
"It’s like a weight’s been lifted off my back, that I’m going to stay here and not have to worry about (what happens) after the 25 games," Longpre said. "Coming into this season I had nothing. Thankfully I got to try out here."
Longpre is in his third season with the Wolves, but has yet to complete a full year with the organization. He played 39 games with the Wolves in 2011-12 before being traded to Springfield. He was back with the Wolves last season for 53 games, but ended up being traded again, this time to Peoria.
His familiarity with players from Peoria helped him during training camp when he was an unsigned free agent hoping for another chance in Chicago.
"Coming here for tryouts with those guys, I had some chemistry with them," Longpre said. "I guess I turned some heads, and here I am today."
Longpre, a 25-year-old from Peterborough, Ont., has made his mark this year on the penalty kill, which ranked fourth in the AHL heading into tonight's game against the Iowa Wild at Allstate Arena. He has scored one of the Wolves' four shorthanded goals this season, and assisted on two others.
All three of those points came in back-to-back games against Milwaukee and Grand Rapids two weekends ago. The goal came when Longpre pressured Griffins goalie Tom McCollum behind the net and created a turnover.
"Just making the other players feel uncomfortable in what they’re doing, and making them make a quick decision usually results in something like that," Longpre said. "I love penalty kill — I enjoy that more than the power play. I take a lot of pride in doing well on the PK."