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July 13, 2010

AHL Admirals Tenth Anniversary Team - Defensemen

The Admirals have now completed ten seasons in the American Hockey League. This summer, you will help to determine who deserves to be named to the AHL Admirals Tenth Anniversary Teams.

Every week from now to the end of July, you will have the opportunity to vote on the best players by position in AHL Admirals history. Results will not be revealed until all voting is complete. For more details on how candidates are selected, how you can submit a write-in vote, and more, please see the end of this page.

To vote, please visit and vote on the poll at the bottom-right corner of the home page. You may only vote once.

Below are defense candidates for the AHL Admirals Tenth Anniversary Team.

Anton Babchuk:
Anton Babchuk/Photo by Yvonne PaxsonAnton Babchuk’s booming shot was a fixture on the Norfolk blueline from 2003-04 to 2005-06. Babchuk recorded 21 goals and 37 assists for 58 points in 163 games with the Admirals over three seasons. He ranks third in goals, sixth in points and tied for third in power play goals (8) among defensemen in AHL Admirals history. He ranked third among defensemen in scoring during his rookie season in 2003-04 and was fourth in 2004-05. Babchuk was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2005-06 season and won the 2006 Stanley Cup with Carolina. He recently re-signed with the Hurricanes.

Nolan Baumgartner:
Nolan Baumgartner/Photo by Yvonne PaxsonNo defenseman scored more points with the Admirals over the first two seasons of AHL Admirals hockey than Nolan Baumgartner. Baumgartner trailed only Marty Wilford in scoring among defensemen in 2000-01 before leading all defensemen in scoring in 2001-02 as Norfolk’s captain. In 139 career games with the Admirals, Baumgartner recorded 15 goals and 52 assists for 67 points. Among defensemen, he is tied for second in points, is tied for third in assists, is fifth in goals and is tied for third in power play goals (8) in AHL Admirals history. Since his last season with Norfolk, Baumgartner has played six of the last eight seasons primarily with the Manitoba Moose.

Dustin Byfuglien:
Dustin Byfuglien/Photo by Allison VeinoteBefore he became an “immovable force” as a forward in front of opposition goaltenders, Dustin Byfuglien patrolled the blueline for two seasons in Norfolk. Byfuglien scored 24 goals and 43 assists for 67 points in 116 games with the Admirals from 2005-06 to 2006-07. He ranks second in goals, sixth in assists and tied for second in points among defensemen in AHL Admirals history. Byfuglien’s powerful shot was an asset on the Admirals power play, where he chipped in ten goals. He averaged 3.31 shots per game – only Brandon Bochenski (3.82) has averaged more in AHL Admirals history (50+ games). Byfuglien won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last month and has since been traded to the Atlanta Thrashers.

Duncan Keith:
Duncan Keith/Photo by Yvonne PaxsonDuncan Keith got his start in professional hockey with the Norfolk Admirals in 2003-04. Over the next two years, Keith recorded 16 goals and 51 points in 154 games with the Admirals. Among all AHL Admirals defensemen, he ranks fourth in goals and seventh in points. He is the only defenseman to record a hat trick in AHL Admirals history, doing so on February 18, 2005, against the Hershey Bears. Keith has been with the Chicago Blackhawks since last playing for the Admirals in 2004-05. In the past year, he has won a Gold Medal with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Stanley Cup with Chicago and the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s most outstanding defenseman in 2009-10.

Vladimir Mihalik:
Vladimir Mihalik/Photo by John WrightOnly Marty Wilford has played more games as a defenseman in AHL Admirals history than Vladimir Mihalik. The tall blueliner has appeared in 204 games with Norfolk since 2007-08, scoring five goals and 44 assists for 49 points. His +11 plus/minus rating is tied for ninth all-time among AHL Admirals defensemen and is the second-best rating of any player over the last three years. Last season, Mihalik registered career highs in games played (75), assists (16) and points (18).

Dmitri Tolkunov:
Dmitri Tolkunov/Photo by Yvonne PaxsonNo one has recorded a higher plus/minus rating in AHL Admirals history than Dmitri Tolkunov. Tolkunov is one of only three players who have a +20 or higher rating in AHL Admirals history and his +35 rating is eight plusses higher than the next closest player. In 176 games with the Admirals from 2000-01 to 2002-03, he recorded seven goals and 53 assists for 60 points. He has the second-highest assist total of any defenseman in AHL Admirals history and ranks fifth in points among defensemen. After last playing for the Admirals in 2002-03, Tolkunov played three seasons in Russia before retiring.

Marty Wilford:
Marty Wilford/Photo by Yvonne PaxsonMarty Wilford’s numbers speak for themselves. In 318 games with the Admirals, he posted 32 goals and 141 assists for 173 points. He ranks third in games played, 20th in goals, first in assists, second in points, tied for seventh in power play goals (19) and tied for sixth in game-winning goals (8) in AHL Admirals history. Moreover, he leads all defensemen in each one of those categories. He led the Admirals in scoring by a defenseman in every season he played in Norfolk. He appeared in all 80 games for the Admirals in a season three times (2000-01, 2002-03 and 2003-04). Since last playing for Norfolk in 2004-05, Wilford spent one season each in Manchester and Iowa before playing each of the past three years in Germany.

James Wisniewski:
James Wisniewski/Photo by Yvonne PaxsonJames Wisniewski was one of the most consistent defensemen for the Admirals from 2004-05 to 2005-06. In 137 career games with the Admirals, James Wisniewski scored 14 goals and added 52 assists for 66 points. He ranks tied for sixth in goals, tied for third in assists, fourth in points and tied for sixth in plus/minus (+13) in AHL Admirals history among defensemen. He led all defensemen in scoring in 2005-06 before becoming a full-time NHLer one month into the 2006-07 season. Since last playing for the Admirals that season, Wisniewski has played parts of three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and parts of two seasons with the Anaheim Ducks.

The candidates for each position of the AHL Admirals Tenth Anniversary Team were chosen based on (1) having played at least 80 regular season games with the AHL Admirals and (2) being the top eight point scorers in their position. They are then presented in alphabetical order. Fans wishing to submit votes for candidates not listed on the poll may do so by emailing with the subject line "AHL Admirals Tenth Anniversary Team" and the name and position of their write in candidate in the body. You may only submit one write-in candidate per position.

The player with the most votes in each position will be named an AHL Admirals Tenth Anniversary First All-Star. The player with the second-most votes in his position will be named an AHL Admirals Tenth Anniversary Second All-Star. The only exception will be on defense, where the top two vote-getters will be named to the first team and the next two will be named to the second team.

Results will be announced on Wednesday, July 28.

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