Parise signs one-year deal with New Jersey

The New Jersey Devils avoided going to arbitration with Zach Parise by signing the former UND standout to a one-year contract worth $6 million Friday.

This development means Parise is in position to sign a fantastic deal within the next year. He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2012, if he is not signed to an extension by then.

Parise will have great leverage in negotiations with the Devils during the next year and would likely be the most coveted free agent next summer if he hits the market.

Jonathan Toews also will take in $6 million next year in his contract, which varies from year-to-year (Toews made $8 million this year, including his signing bonus). They will be the highest-paid Sioux players in the league next season.

For more on Parise’s signing, including comments from the Devils, see this story.

Random notes

We are less than a month away from the start of school yet major developments are still happening around the country.

The OHL swiped a few more top players this week in Michigan goalie recruit John Gibson, a second-round pick, Miami defenseman recruit Connor Murphy, a first-round pick, and Michigan State forward recruit Reid Boucher, a fourth-round pick.

Along with college-committed losses such as J.T. Miller, Jamie Oleksiak, Anthony DeAngelo and Brandon Shea, there has been plenty of buzz about the age-old NCAA vs. CHL battle.

Hopefully, by the end of the summer, I will have more of a detailed look at the battle — and some key statistics that will be interesting to look at.

I will avoid many points about this debate at this time, because most of them have already been made…. expect for one: When the NCAA does “win a battle,” it is not highly publicized, because the college team isn’t taking a kid who is already suited up in CHL. Winning a battle is basically getting a high-profile kid to stick with NCAA route.

While college hockey has, without question, taken its lumps this summer, there have been a few key victories. For UND, there’s little question that Rocco Grimaldi and Jordan Schmaltz were heavily pursued by CHL teams. Grimaldi has arrived on campus and picked out his No. 19 to wear this year. Schmaltz committed to another year in Sioux City before his plans to go to UND.

Another big victory was Colorado College grabbing — and holding onto — forward Jaden Schwartz, a Western Canada native. The Tri-City Americans not only tried to pull Schwartz out of Colorado College for a second year in a row, they also contacted the St. Louis Blues to try to get them to convince Schwartz to leave (That’s not to say the Blues did. They probably don’t mind how T.J. Oshie and David Backes turned out).

So, yes, it has been a rough summer for college hockey and players bailing on their teams at the last minute. But it is probably worth noting that the college game also held on to some high-profile players as well.

On to some other news…

  • Speaking of Schmaltz, he will participate in the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation camp on August 17-18 in Toronto. Thirty-six players have been invited.
  • If UND’s schedule is not officially announced Friday, it will be early next week. Like I said before, the schedule I have posted on the right side is correct with the exception of the Ice Breaker matchups, which may change. UND also will have an exhibition game in mid-December that I haven’t posted yet.
  • I updated the recruit list on the right side of the page, removing all of the incoming players. I also added birth years. I have stopped adding which year the player will come to UND since that often times depends on the player’s development and isn’t pre-set.
  • The USHL announced its schedule this week. Schmaltz will travel to Fargo four times. Good news for Sioux fans — UND is off on three of those four dates. Good opportunities to go see the standout defenseman.
  • The addition of Connor Gaarder (see story here) has filled out the roster. Expect it to be officially posted on FightingSioux.com soon. I’ve heard a few of the rookie numbers: Grimaldi will wear 19, Nick Mattson will wear 5 and Mike Parks will wear 15.
  • In former player news, the New Jersey Devils moved Brian Rolston to the New York Islanders, which helps clear more cap room to sign restricted free agent Zach Parise. The arbitration date is Aug. 3. The Devils certainly want to get something done by then. If not, an arbitrator will set Parise’s salary for next season and he will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
  • Former Sioux Jason Ulmer (@Ulms44 on Twitter) is headed back to Germany for this season to play with the Dusseldorf Metro Stars in the German Elite League.
  • Travis Zajac answered a lot of questions from fans on the Fire and Ice blog. He even mentioned the Zajac family ping-pong games (my money’s on Darcy, if he can’t win after all those daily battles with Chris VandeVelde, he’s in serious trouble). Read that here.
  • Dakota Student writer Tim Boger compiled some interesting numbers on what percent of production each WCHA team returns. Read that here. One thing you will learn: Matt Frattin scored more goals last year than three teams’ entire senior classes.
  • Four Atlantic Hockey teams met with the CCHA and are trying to decide whether they should stay or go. They released a statement here.

Connor Gaarder commits to UND

In the wake of J.T. Miller bolting to the OHL, UND has added another forward — former Edina High forward Connor Gaarder (pronounced “Gorder”). He will join the team this fall.

Gaarder, who helped the Hornets to the state tournament along with Sioux junior-to-be Joe Gleason, has spent the last two years in the North American Hockey League.

Gaarder had 26 points in 58 games for North Iowa two years ago. Last year, he tallied 61 points in 58 games for Coulee Region Chill.

INCH bullish on Sioux

Inside College Hockey has released its top 10 for 2012 and the website is high on the Sioux, even though the team lost 6 of its top 7 scorers from last season. INCH has the Sioux ranked No. 3 in the nation, only behind Miami and Notre Dame.

Read the full INCH top 10 here.

The Herald won’t have its rankings out for another month and a half or so, but we won’t have the Sioux quite as high. Too many question marks. By the end of the season, they could be very tough to play against with a good D-corps and good goaltending. But there will definitely be some bumps along the road.

Random updates

More college hockey buzz as July nears an end…

1. Western Michigan will hire Andy Murray as head coach tomorrow, multiple sources tell the Herald. Murray coached 10 years in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. His son, Brady, played for the Sioux. Definitely a big-name hire for a team that may eventually join the Sioux in the NCHC.

2. Ron Rolston, who coached several Sioux players with the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, is leaving that post for an AHL job.

3. College Hockey News reported that Jim Madigan will be the next coach at Northeastern. He will replace Greg Cronin, who left to be an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

4. UND’s schedule will soon be released, UND’s sports info director Jayson Hajdu said last week. They are working on finalizing matchups for the Ice Breaker. Not sure if it will be a tournament format or a showcase format (predetermined matchups).

5. This also means that the contract is finally in for the Winnipeg game against Clarkson. The game will be held on Jan. 7. The Jets are out of town that weekend. The schedule on the right side of this page should be almost entirely correct with the exception of the Ice Breaker matchups and an exhibition game that will be played in mid-December.

6. One piece of speculation out there is that the NCHC’s attempt to get a TV deal is tied to the addition of Notre Dame. That is not true.

7. Another note to add: If the NCHC gets games on Versus, that is unlikely to end UND’s relationship with DirecTV and FCS. Games that are not on Versus should be televised by FCS like normal. I assume this is the same with Minnesota: Games that are not on Big Ten Network will still be on FSN North.

8. Hearing very little info out of South Bend. Guessing they want to decide within a month, but there’s not much info coming from the Irish.

9. I believe most of the rookies are on campus now. Dan Senkbeil and Colten St. Clair were two of the first to arrive. Rocco Grimaldi is on his way as I write this.

10. Many of the veteran players are in Grand Forks as well. Others will be filtering back during the next month. Dillon Simpson wrote on Twitter today that he’s road tripping back to Alberta. At least he left Matt Frattin behind this time.

NCAA has to fight perceptions

July hasn’t been a great month for college hockey. UND recruit J.T. Miller, Northeastern sophomore-to-be Jamie Oleksiak, BU recruit Anthony DeAngelo and Boston College recruit Brandon Shea all have reportedly pulled their college plans to join OHL teams.

In reading the coverage and the comments about Miller’s decision to go to the Plymouth Whalers instead of UND, you will see two overriding themes.

First, you’ll see a lot of people saying that it’s the right move, because major juniors is the route to go if you want to play in the NHL (and it’s the fast route to the NHL). Second, you’ll see speculation that the New York Rangers pushed Miller to go to the OHL.

This is a battle that UND and other colleges continue to fight — the perception that they won’t develop a player as well as major juniors.

The numbers don’t necessarily tell that story.

In fact, UND’s Zach Parise has scored more NHL goals than every player that the Plymouth Whalers have produced in the last eight years combined (and Parise missed almost all of last season).

Among players produced in the last eight years, UND more than doubles Plymouth in every category.

NHL games: UND 2,648. Plymouth 1,245
NHL goals: UND 551. Plymouth 154.
NHL assists: UND 794. Plymouth 259.
NHL points: UND 1,345. Plymouth 413
NHL players with 100+ games: UND 10. Plymouth 4.
NHL captains/alternates: UND 3. Plymouth 0.

If you want to look at things from a New York Rangers point of view, the Rangers have produced two 30-goal scorers in the last five years (UND has produced eight). Jagr did it once, Gaborik did it once — neither of which played major juniors. You have to go back a decade to find the last time a major junior player has had a 30-goal season for the Rangers (Eric Lindros).

So, if the rumor that the Rangers pushed Miller to go major juniors is true, that is at least a little bit mysterious, because it’s not like they’ve been hitting home run after home run with guys coming from the CHL.

Despite these comparisons with the Rangers and the Whalers, it couldn’t save the Sioux from losing Miller.

It’s not like the NCAA is losing every battle. Jonathan Toews, Danny Kristo, Mike Cichy, Brad Malone and Dillon Simpson are a few examples of guys who had heavy pressure to go to CHL but stuck with their college commitments. But certainly a month like the last one has to be frustrating for coaches.

Will the new conference alignment — and possible new TV deals for the NCHC and Big Ten — help hook younger players on college hockey… and players from non-traditional college hockey markets? Will College Hockey Inc., be able to make waves in the future (it is in its infancy right now)?

We will see. All that’s known right now is that the battle for top players is as hot as ever and college hockey ended up on the wrong side of a bunch of those battles in July.

Dragons put chips on the table

On Friday, MSU-Moorhead held a press conference basically saying that the school is putting all of its chips on the table and going all-in with its hockey dream.

Athletic director Doug Peters said that the school needs $22 million in donations in the next three months or the idea will very likely be dead. As he said in the presser, there’s no better time than now to add a hockey team.

Over two years ago, the Dragons held a presser to announce their intention to add Division I hockey. Since then, they say they have raised $15 million dollars. MSUM’s target is $37 million to endow the program (MSUM says it will not touch taxpayer or school funds, it will be funded privately).

Obviously, there are a lot of hurdles for the Dragons to clear if this is to become a reality. Raising $22 million in three months will be a difficult task. Then, they need to get the OK from the MnSCU system. Then, they need to get in the WCHA (only logical conference option) for the men’s and women’s teams, which could be tricky.

Being that the Dragons couldn’t start until a hockey program until 2013, and need two years of D-I before joining the WCHA, they couldn’t get in until 2015. With the way the college hockey world is changing, it would be difficult for the WCHA to assure Moorhead a spot that far out.

But if the Dragons are able to meet these challenges and get a program going, it would be a very impressive feat and it could be big for college hockey – not just because the sport is adding one team. Other schools would have to look at this situation and say that if Moorhead — a school that woefully underfunds its other athletic teams — can do it, why can’t they?

Marks to Fargo, etc.

The fourth head coach of the Fargo Force will be just like the previous three — a guy with strong ties to UND.

John Marks, a former Sioux player, will follow former Sioux players Jason Herter and Steve Johnson and former Sioux coach Dean Blais as the bench boss in Fargo.

Marks, a longtime coach in the ECHL and most recently a coach of the Winkler Flyers in the MJHL, will be in charge of the Force, who are in their fourth year of existence. For a full story on Marks, go here.

*****

Former Sioux defenseman Aaron Schneekloth, who has played for the Colorado Eagles for the last five seasons, has signed to stay with the organization as it transitions from the CHL to the ECHL this season.

Schneekloth last played in the ECHL during the 2002-03 season.

Schneekloth has twice been named the CHL defenseman of the year.

*****

Anthony Grieco (remember him?) has signed his first professional contract. He will be playing for Asiago in the Italian league, likely backing up former Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg.

Grieco, who left UND for major juniors in 2007, played the last two years with the University of Western Ontario.

*****

Former Sioux defenseman Mike Commodore will wear No. 64 for the Detroit Red Wings, so the Wings will have a Commodore 64.

Here’s a short story about that.

Chorney re-signs with Edmonton

Former Sioux defenseman Taylor Chorney has signed a one-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers. Details of the contract have not been posted, but it is likely a two-way deal.

Chorney has played three years with Edmonton and was a restricted free agent this summer.

The Hastings, Minn., product has played 56 career games in the NHL, including 12 last season. Chorney scored his first NHL goal last year.

Chorney was picked to play with Team USA in the World Championships after the season.