UND captain Dillon Simpson is following in the footsteps as his father, signing an NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
Simpson’s father, Craig, won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers.
I wrote a story on the topic here. (Strangely enough, I remember sitting on this same couch chatting with Simpson the night he committed to UND. I guess I’ve lived in this place longer than I thought. Time flies).
Edmonton seems to be a good fit for Simpson. By my count, the Oilers should only enter the offseason with one defenseman on a one-way deal (presumably, it will re-sign three RFAs to one-way deals, too, bringing that number to four).
Even so, at this point, it seems that defenseman spots are up for grab in an organization that has been doomed by its defenseman play in recent years.
It’s hard to believe that Simpson could make the big club out of camp, but once he gets comfortable at the pro level, he may have a shot.
As a freshman, Simpson’s foot speed was, at times, an issue. Even during his sophomore year. But he spent tons of time working on that during the offseasons, and that was evident come his junior and senior years.
Simpson really rounded out his game throughout his college career. He improved his foot speed. He increasingly showed good hockey sense — as evidenced by the number of passes he read and broke up in the Frozen Four this season. Defensively, he led the country in blocked shots (109). Offensively, his half-slap shot was effective.
Off the ice, he had an idea resume. He was an honor student in managerial finance and he was good in the community. Whenever UND had a tough loss, he was typically the go-to guy for quotes for us media types. That’s the captain’s job.
His college career is now finished — something that he said saddened him a little bit. “It’s been a memorable four years, the best four years of my life. I’m going to miss it a lot,” he said.
But at age 21, he’s set himself up well for the future. He has an NHL contract. He will give it his best shot to eventually play in the NHL. And once his pro hockey career is over, he already has his degree and will be able to move on in the business world.
Not a bad model for future players to follow.