Oshie excited to team with Chorney

After notifying his family that he was traded from the St. Louis Blues to the Washington Capitals, T.J. Oshie’s first text was to his former UND teammate and classmate.

Oshie, who spent the same three years at UND with Taylor Chorney, will reunite with him in the NHL.

Here’s a full story with Oshie’s quotes.

If you remember back to the summer of 2007, both Oshie and Chorney had offers to turn pro from the Blues and the Oilers. They were part of the “pact” that decided they would return for one more year and make another run.

They did end up making the Frozen Four once again in dramatic fashion — beating Wisconsin in overtime in the Kohl Center — before falling to Boston College in the semifinals.

The duo played on the power play together frequently at UND. It’s unlikely to happen at the NHL level as the Caps have other offensive defensemen who will get the chance ahead of Chorney.

But Chorney’s one-way deal means he is likely to stick in the NHL this season.

The Capitals have been hopeful to make runs at the Stanley Cup recently with superstars Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. They made some changes in the offseason that should strengthen their hopes in the East.

Oshie traded to Caps

On the day that his good buddy Danny Kristo signed with the St. Louis Blues, former UND standout T.J. Oshie is on the move.

Oshie was traded to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Troy Brouwer, former Tech goalie Pheonix Copley and a third-round draft pick.

Oshie had 19 goals and 55 points in 72 games last season for the Blues, who earned a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but were bounced in the first round by the Minnesota Wild.

Brouwer had 43 points in 82 games for the Caps last season.

In Washington, Oshie will re-join with former UND teammate and classmate Taylor Chorney, who signed with the Caps a day earlier.

CC, Wisco lose key players

Two of UND’s 2015-16 opponents lost huge pieces to their puzzles on Wednesday.

Colorado College’s top player, defenseman Jaccob Slavin, signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, giving up his final two years of college eligibility. Slavin’s sister, Jordan, played at UND.

Slavin was a dominant player for a last-place Tiger team last season. His departure means Colorado College loses four of its six defensemen from last season.

Considering the losses on the back end — and the team’s struggles the last two seasons — Colorado College will undoubtedly be picked to finish last in the league’s preseason poll.

Meanwhile, a Wisconsin team that won just four games a year ago took a major hit Brian Posick from the Badger radio network reported that goalie Luke Opilka will not play for Wisconsin and will instead end up in the OHL.

Wisconsin lost both goalies Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson to graduation. Opilka was expected to take over the reins at that position. Instead, it appears that will be Gabe Grunwald, who did not play as a freshman last season.

Grunwald last played two years ago in the Eastern Hockey League, grounds not traditionally mined by Division I schools. The other goalie, Adam Miller, will be a senior who has not started any games in his career. The Badgers also will have to add another one on short order here.

Chorney headed to Caps

Former UND defenseman Taylor Chorney has parlayed a strong playoff series into a one-way contract.

Chorney signed a one-year, one-way deal (same money in NHL or AHL) worth $700,000.

Chorney has bounced around between Edmonton, St. Louis and Pittsburgh so far during his NHL career and has been up-and-down between the NHL and AHL for much of it. The one-way deal is key for Chorney to stick in the NHL all season.

He was called up by the Pens before the playoffs and had a strong first-round series for them.

Chorney’s father, Marc, also played for the Penguins and for Washington’s AHL team.

Stafford returns to Jets

Former UND forward Drew Stafford is headed back to Winnipeg after a strong finish there last season.

Stafford signed a two-year deal worth $8.7 million to stay with Winnipeg. He reportedly had four other serious suitors.

Stafford started last season with Buffalo, which finished with the worst record in the NHL, but was moved to the Jets at the trading deadline. He put up the same number of goals in 26 games with Winnipeg as he did in 50 games with Buffalo.

The Jets have said that Stafford will be a fixture in the top six and on the power play next season.

Murphy to leave UND

UND will have six forwards to replace next season.

On top of the five senior forwards, Wade Murphy also will leave the team after a couple of trying seasons in Grand Forks, the Herald has learned.

Read the link above for more on his impending departure.

Now that UND has seemingly figured out who all is coming back and who all is leaving, the freshman class will soon be finalized.

If they go player-by-player, the freshman class will have six forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.

We know that the goalie will be Matej Tomek and that the defensemen will be Christian Wolanin, Hayden Shaw and Danys Chartrand.

Five of the forwards will be Brock Boeser, Shane Gersich, Chris Wilkie, Joel Janatuinen and Mike Gornall. If UND does bring in a sixth forward, Rhett Gardner probably makes the most sense.

Tomek ranks among top goalie prospects

Matej Tomek will be the first goaltender to come to UND as an 18-year-old true freshman since Anthony Grieco in 2006 (Grieco was actually 17 when he arrived).

So, he’ll have a learning curve and it has been very rare for UND to test a young goalie. But he’s also one of the top goalie prospects to ever play at UND.

UND has only had eight drafted goalies ever. Tomek is the only one who has ever gone in the top four rounds. If you go by draft pick number, he’s the second-highest pick ever to play at North Dakota.

I wrote a little bit about how Dave Hakstol recruited him extremely hard to come to North Dakota, then drafted him as a Flyer in this piece here.

UND’s drafted goalies
Dave Murphy, Penguins, No. 60 (fifth), 1971
Matej Tomek, Flyers, No. 90 (third), 2015
Darren Jensen, Whalers, No. 92 (fifth), 1980
Brad Eidsness, Sabres, No. 139 (fifth), 2007

Zane McIntyre, Bruins, No. 165 (sixth), 2010
Peter Waselovich, Bruins, No. 175 (10th), 1974
Toby Kvalevog, Senators, No. 209 (ninth), 1993
Scott Brower, Rangers, No. 243 (12th), 1984

UND draft tracker, Day 2


Day 2 of the NHL Draft is complete.

Brock Boeser was selected on Day 1, going No. 23 overall in the first round to the Vancouver Canucks. Here’s the story on that with comments from Boeser and Vancouver general manager Jim Benning.

On Day 2, Dave Hakstol’s Philadelphia Flyers selected Dave Hakstol’s UND recruit, Matej Tomek, in the third round, No. 90 overall.

Christian Wolanin, who was unranked by NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, went all the way up in the fourth round, and Chris Wilkie, who went undrafted a year ago, went in the sixth round to the draft hosts, Florida Panthers.

UND’s draft board

1st round — Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks, No. 23
3rd round — Matej Tomek, Philadelphia Flyers, No. 90
4th round — Christian Wolanin, Ottawa Senators, No. 107
6th round — Chris Wilkie, Florida Panthers, No. 162

Boeser goes in the first


Brock Boeser became UND’s 13th first-round draft pick since 2000 when the Vancouver Canucks called his name at No. 23 on Friday night.

After Boeser was picked, I chatted with both the right winger and his new general manager, Jim Benning.

Benning told the assembled media multiple times that he liked UND’s coaching staff and thinks it is a good place for him to develop. Also of note, when Benning was with the Buffalo Sabres, he drafted Drew Stafford out of UND.

To read comments from Benning and Boeser, check out the Herald story here.

I know there was at least one team that was hoping to get Boeser at the end of the first round, but it did not pan out for them.

Here are a few notes about the draft:

  • Several people were pronouncing Boeser’s last name wrong that I heard. It is pronounced “Besser,” for those who may not know.
  • Vancouver writers seemed a bit skeptical about picking a Minnesotan because their last two first-round picks from Minnesota, Patrick White and Jordan Schroeder, did not pan out the way the Canucks had hoped.
  • Amazingly, Vancouver has not drafted a UND player since Jason Herter (No. 8 overall) in 1989. It was the third-longest drought for any NHL team without drafting a UND player (26 years). The longest drought belongs to the Detroit Red Wings, who haven’t drafted a UND player since Rick Zombo in 1981. The second-longest is the Calgary Flames, who haven’t drafted a UND guy since George Pelawa in 1986.
  • The year before the Canucks took Herter, they drafted UND assistant coach Dane Jackson in the third round. Interestingly enough, both Herter and Jackson were in South Florida this weekend.
  • The only two NHL franchises to have never drafted a North Dakota player are 2000 expansion teams Minnesota and Columbus.
  • Two NCHC players went in the first round. Boeser was the first and Miami incoming freshman Jack Roslovic was the second, going at No. 25 to Winnipeg.
  • Former UND coach and current Flyers coach Dave Hakstol did not go on stage for the Flyers’ first pick. He is at the draft, however, because I ran into him on the street earlier in the day.
  • Crookston’s Paul Bittner didn’t end up going in the first round. It’s likely that he’ll go extremely early in the second.
  • Matej Tomek is a sure-thing to be picked tomorrow. After him, UND has a number of draft eligible players who could sneak into a late round or miss altogether.
  • College Hockey Inc.’s leaders met with roughly 60 advisors/agents Friday morning, trying to help explain some NCAA rules and some dos and donts to keep their prospects eligible.