St. Cloud, MN – Here’s a quick update on some of the movement by former St. Cloud State University players in the National Hockey League.
Jonny Brodzinski (2012-15) – as reported here, Brodzinski recently signed a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. His new deal will take him through July 2, 2020. This transaction reunites him with his brother Michael who was drafted by the Sharks in 2013 and remains in the organization.
Ethan Prow (2012-16) – The former SCSU defenseman and captain racked up numerous collegiate awards his senior year including NCHC Player of the Year, All-American and Hobey Baker Finalist. He originally signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and his most recent contract expired on July 13. He spent his entire contract with their AHL team, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. He had a break-out year offensively with them this past season leading the squad in points with 18 goals and 32 assists for 50 points in 72 games. A Group VI UFA, he was signed to a two-year Standard Contract with the Florida Panthers on July 1, 2019. He’ll quite likely start with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL , the Panthers top minor league club.
Patrick Russell (2014-16) – Forward Patrick Russell departed for the NHL after just two seasons signing a two-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers on May 6, 2016. His most recent one-year deal expired on June 8 and he was subsequently inked to another one-year deal on June 11. So far during his time with the Oilers he has earned six games in the NHL and 187 games in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors. He’s posted 40 goals and 44 assists for 84 career points for Bakersfield.
Kevin Gravel (2010-2014) – After four season with the Huskies, Gravel, who was a fifth round draft choice of the LA Kings in 2010 signed a two-year deal with them on June 17, 2015. After signing another one-year deal with the Kings, he signed as an UFA by Edmonton for the 2018-19 season. Gravel has had a respectable career in the NHL thus far logging 106 NHL games including 49 with the Kings in 2016-17. On July 1, 2019 he was signed to a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in what was considered a “depth” move. It will be interesting to see where he ends up to start the 2019-20 and it could be the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
Jimmy Schuldt (2015-18) – Schuldt, who will go down as one of the best players in SCSU hockey history proved you can play four years and work out a highly lucrative NHL deal as a free agent. The three-year captain racked up awards almost too numerous to mention while with the Huskies. In addition to being a Hobey Baker finalist, he was a two-year All-American, NCHC Player of the Year, NCHC Best Defensive Defenseman and NCHC First Team All Star. Highly coveted as a free agent, he ultimately signed a one-year entry level deal with the Las Vegas Golden Knights on April 3, 2019. The interesting thing about this deal is that he was signed before the end of the season, played one game and due to the crazy NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement is once again a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) requiring the Golden Knights to sign him to a contract extension. He did receive a qualifying offer from them in late June. If you’ve been following along, the Golden Knights have been trying to get their financial house in order. As of today’s date, the Knights have no cap space available and have been attempting to clear space. Just this week they traded defenseman, Colin Miller to Buffalo clearing a $11 million contract. They obviously have a youth movement with both Schuldt and former Bemidji State defenseman, Zach Whitecloud both high considerations to remain with the club on opening day. Financially, Schuldt looks to cash in quite well once he’s signed this summer.
Here’s some other former Huskies currently under contract with NHL teams:
Ryan Poehling (2016-19) – The three-year Husky signed a three-year entry level deal with Montreal on March 31, 2019. Look to see Poehling on the Canadiens roster on opening day for the 2019-20 season.
Blake Lizotte (2017-19) – Lizotte signed a three-year entry level contract with the Los Angeles Kings on April 2, 2019. He s currently on the roster of the LA Kings. However, I expect he’ll start the 2019-20 season with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.
Nick Jensen (2010-13) – The former assistant captain played three years for the Huskies and signed an ELC with Detroit on May 2, 2013. He completed two more contracts before signing a four-year $10M contract with the Washington Capitals on February 22, 2019. He’s guaranteed no less than $2M per season even if he’s sent to the American Hockey league.
Nick Dowd (2010-14) – The four-year Husky, spent four years in the LA Kings organization before signing a UFA contract with the Washington Capitals on July 1, 2018. He was subsequently signed to a three-year extension on April 11, 2019 keeping him with the Capitals until 2022.
Dennis Cholowski (2016-17) – The first round draft choice of the Detroit Wings skated for the Huskies for one season. He signed an Entry Level Contract on April 5, 2017 but because of his age and lack of games in the NHL after his signing, his contract was subject to “Entry Level Slide” extending the ELC to the 2020-21 season (obviously a good deal for the Red Wings). Cholowski saw 52 games with the Red Wings this past season and put up a respectable 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points but was -20 on the plus/minus.
Will Borgen (2015-18) – Borgen signed an entry level deal with Buffalo on March 25, 2018 that will take him through the 2020-21 season. At that time, he’ll be a restricted free agent. He earned four games with the Sabres during the 2018-19 season. Borgen has impressed Buffalo management with his play at Rochester, their AHL team, but it’s yet to be seen what his status will be for the 2019-20 season. It doesn’t help that they just traded for veteran Colin Miller.
Patrick Newell (2015-19) – The four-year Husky had a standout senior season being named All-American and Hobey Finalist and was rewarded nicely with a two-year Entry Level contract by the New York Rangers on March 30, 2019. Of interest is that in addition to the base salary they’ve built in $132,000 in performance bonuses. Most likely Newell will begin the season with the Rangers affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack where Newell played six games at the end of last season and had one assist.
Jon Lizotte (2015-19) – The four-year Husky and defensive partner of Jimmy Schuldt received few collegiate post season awards for his play but the assistant captain nevertheless has been turning heads after his collegiate years ended. Lizotte was signed to a Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO) at the end of last season by the Wilkes-Barre Penguins and impressed enough that they have signed him for the 2019-20 season. Word is he had a nice showing at the Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp last week but as of yet is not inked to a deal by the big club.
Mikey Eyssimont (2015-18) – After skating for the Huskies for three seasons, Eyssimont signed an Entry Level Contract with the LA Kings on March 29, 2018 which will carry him through the 2019-20 season. After posting 102 points in 115 games at the collegiate level, Eyssimont has found the transition to the professional game more challenging putting up just 21 points in 66 games for the Ontario Reign of the AHL. He’ll begin the 2019-20 season back in Ontario.
Charlie Lindgren (2013-16) – The former All-American, NCHC Goaltender of the Year and NCHC First Team All Star signed an Entry Level Deal with the Montreal Canadiens in March of 2016 and has been signed to several extensions since. His most recent contract was signed on February 13, 2018 and runs through the 2020-21 season. He’s logged 18 NHL games since the 2015-16 season but only one game in the NHL last season. The bulk of his games have been with the Montreal affiliates, St. John’s Ice Caps and the Laval Rocket of the AHL. With big buck goaltender Carey Price signed through the 2025-26 season, Lindgren’s destiny continues as a backup with Montreal. The real battle for him will be with Keith Kincaid who was signed to a one-year deal on July 1. On the positive side, Lindgrens most recent contract was a one-way deal paying him his NHL base salary whether he is in the NHL or AHL.
Kalle Kossila (2012-16) – The four -year Husky was signed as a free agent by the Anaheim Ducks to a two-year Entry Level Contract on March 29, 2016. He was subsequently given another one-year deal on July 15, 2018. Kossila has played 18 games in the NHL over the past three seasons. He is currently a Unrestricted Free Agent and unsigned thus far for the 2019-20 season.
Note: All players discussed in this story that have signed NHL deals are receiving at or near the NHL minimum salary of $700,000 with the exception of Poehling, B Lizotte, Jensen, Dowd, Chowlowski, Borgen and Eyssimont. However keep in mind most of these contracts are two-way deals paying a much lower salary if in the American Hockey League. Some offer performance bonuses. Schuldt is expected to receive a lucrative contract extension this summer.