Coming and going: Dell also likely to sign

Tuesday brought the first big action of the offseason for the Sioux.

Brock Nelson, UND’s leading scorer and someone pegged to be a Hobey Baker Award candidate next season, signed with the New York Islanders, giving up his final two years of college eligibility.

We knew this was a possibility, but I’d say it’s still a little surprising. In the last decade, UND has only had three other guys leave after their sophomore year: Zach Parise, Jonathan Toews and Travis Zajac.

Toews and Zajac went straight to top-six roles in the NHL and have been there ever since. The only reason Parise played in the AHL is because he left during a lockout year, something he later said he regretted doing.

Nelson didn’t talk much about expectations for next season, but he knows he needs to have a big summer in the weight room in order to try to make the jump to the NHL.

Don’t expect that to be UND’s only early signing this offseason.

Junior goalie Aaron Dell also will sign a deal, I’m told. He’s a free agent and I don’t know what teams are in on him or when he plans to sign, but expect him to turn pro as well.

That means the goaltender job will be between rookie Zane Gothberg and Alabama-Huntsville transfer and junior-to-be Clarke Saunders. I wouldn’t count out Tate Maris getting game action at some point next season, either. I had someone with the team tell me this year: “If we started Tate, I’d be completely confident that we would win with him.”

UND did have two guys with NHL interest decide to return on Tuesday.

Carter Rowney, who had offers come his way after a breakout season, will return for his senior year. It’s not really a surprise that he had interest considering his two-way game, big frame and emerging offensive punch.

Andrew MacWilliam, a draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, also has decided to return for his senior year. Earlier this year, Leafs GM Brian Burke told me that he was interested in signing MacWilliam at the end of the season.

Up front, UND will still await decisions from Corban Knight and Danny Kristo.

Knight, a fifth-round pick of the Florida Panthers, will likely return. The Panthers are not only a division champion team, they are a strong team that has a large stockpile of forward prospects that will get a look ahead of Knight, including Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore and Nick Bjugstad.

I’m wondering if it will be a while before we hear from Kristo. He’s a Montreal Canadiens pick and they just fired their general manager.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

30 thoughts on “Coming and going: Dell also likely to sign

  1. I hear Dell prefers a Canadian team. My guess is the Calgary organization, to be close to home. I’m pretty shocked to see Brock go, but he had a great year and is in good company on that list. Also, you forgot Grimaldi and Rau on that list of Florida prospects. I may have to be a fan sure to their high level of investment in the WCHA.

    • He should look at Toronto, they are in desperate need for a goalie, and i think he could play in the pros, he just seems to have that mindset of a professional.
      but would you want to join a near last place team with incredible fan/media pressure.

    • Brock was in class today for our finance exam. I think this was truly a tough decision for him, his academics clearly are really important to him. Wish him the best, great guy.

  2. Good luck Dell. It will be interesting to see what Kristo does but I am guessing either way he is also gone. The beginning of the offseason I would have never guessed Brock would leave first. Just goes to show how much I know. I also applaud Carter Rowney and Big Mac for their dedication to the team and program and deciding to come back next year. Hope the rest of the boys follow. Rocco also tweeted that he would be back next year too.

  3. I don’t understand Nelsons move at all. Its common knowledge that he needs to put on some serious weight if he wants to succeed in the NHL. UND puts his weight at 192, I’d put him closer to 180. Why develop your game in Bridgeport when you can be a stand-out college player not to mention the BMOC. I understand that the signing bonus was the sweetener but it seems a little Brian Lee-esque to me.

  4. Brad –
    I’ll preface by saying I have no idea how NHL contracts work but do you know if Brock’s age had anything to do with him signing this year? (the question I guess is, would he have had to sign a 3-year entry deal next year if he came back to UND for another year?)

  5. Brian Lee was a sophomore departure, if I’m not mistaken. Although it’s easy to forget about those who are in-and-out of the lineup in the NHL.

    Best of luck to Brock and Aaron.

      • I know they didnt have enough players at the end of the year. One of the benefits of having a RS on your team is, if you do get into injury trouble you can lift the Red Shirt off them and they can play with the team. The other benefit is that player would be able to practice with the team….I guess in my mind it would be a decent insurance policy.

        But I also know that players that are playing in the USHL are getting valuable playing time….

  6. Just wondering, and because I have heard it before, if Maris is that good why is he staying here to be a number 3 goalie? Someone with that level of skill could certainly get a lot more playing time with another program. Does he enjoy being number 3 and hockey isn’t his first priority or does he have a legitimate shot at putting the the recruited tender and the tender with D1 experience on the bench? I have to believe that playing somewhere else might provide some scholarship $$ as well.

    • Tired, i could be mistaken, but i believe that Tate was just going to UND, and there was a “call” for a goalie tryout, which he went to and won. i believe he was a very good high school goalie that thought his playing days were behind him, and anything that is happening now is just icing on the cake. Remember Aaron Walski, he was a stud, but wanted to play for the sioux, so he took the 3rd role and embraced it

  7. I suppose if there was one position the Sioux could afford some attrition from, it was the goalie position. I still think we’ll be pretty set next year.

    I also agree with previous commenters about being surprised by Nelson’s decision. One of the ESPN commentators (Starman) commented during the NCAA tourney that when he arrived on campus you could knock him over with a stiff breeze. He followed that up by saying that Nelson had since bulked up but that he needed more time in the gym to really start to reach his full potential.

  8. Still thought Brock got knocked around and down much too easy this year. He needed a “Frattin” type summer to get bigger and stronger. Very disappointed to see him leave before he is ready…….definitely doesn’t fit in with the Parise/Oshie/Toews profile. Must be a money thing.

  9. I thought Nelson would be back next year as well. He had a great year, and the Islanders are a young team, his game is ready for the next level, not sure his body is ready for an 82 game schedule in the pros.

    It’s just a matter of time before he breaks into the NHL. Best of Luck Brock!!! Thanks for playing for the Fighting Sioux as a #1 draft pick.

  10. I wish the departing players the best of luck in their future endeavors.

    I am curious about one thing though……I noticed this year Idalski carried 4 RS freshmen this year. I am curious to know why the men’s team dosnt have any RS? Is it because the USHL offers the player more playing time ?

  11. I’m completely comfortable with Gothberg next season. I look for him to be on the all-rookie team by season’s end. I’m certainly not surprised Nelson left, because he probably has a 50/50 shot at finding significant ice time at some point with the Islanders next season. He’s obviously a big part of their future. Sad to see him go regardless.

  12. Goaltending is sometimes a crapshoot. You can think you are set even if Dell leaves, but until they actually perform with all the expectations that come in a program like North Dakota, you never know. Remember how great Adam Hauser was going to be for Minnesota or how Kangas was the man and Patterson the afterthought. Potential is their for greatness, but as we can see with the one off year for Eidsness, confidence can be an odd thing.

  13. I believe it is because college hockey is unique to the other collegiate sports in that players who would redshirt have an opportunity to keep playing at a competitive level in juniors without jeopardizing their college eligibility.

  14. Mr Saunders is my guess as to who will be the go-to guy in the nets next year. I also believe that might be the case even if Mr Dell DOES decide to stay. He saw nore rubber than a Firestone tire factory last year, and probably should have worn a jersey with a large “S” (instead of UAH)…… :-)

  15. BTW, Mr Grimaldi (while very talented) would be utterly foolish to sign right now. He first has to prove he can excel at the D1 level, and THEN can think about moving up 6 notches. Anyone else remember back far enough to an absolutely dominant small Freshman (which Mr Grimaldi was NOT this year) named Kevin maxwell who signed right away? Prudence is ALWAYS a good thing….. :-)

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