Former SCSU Huskies Impact Opening Night NHL Rosters

Blake Lizotte (Photo Prout)

St. Cloud, MN – The National Hockey League’s 4 p.m. CT deadline on Tuesday has passed for teams to submit its 23-man roster for the opening of the 2019-20 season and seven former Huskies have made opening night rosters.

The following is a run-down of those former Huskies, their team and the years they suited up for SCSU:

Jonny Brodzinski (2012-15) | San Jose Sharks – Brodzinski recently signed a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. The 26 year-old center had a good audition in the preseason and has stuck with the Sharks for their opening night roster. “He’s got a great shot, he’s got good speed, he works hard,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “He’s auditioning for some pretty big roles we have open here.” Hampered by injury during the 2018-19 season Brodzinski fell in the depth chart and was not re-signed. The Sharks were more than happy to snatch him. He’s skating at the NHL minimum and will be a Unrestricted Free Agent next July.

 

Patrick Russell (2014-16) | Edmonton Oilers – Russell’s  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 for the Bakersfield Condors. The 6’1″ 200 pound power forward will be playing right wing for the Oilers. Russell too is skating for the NHL minimum but he’s impressed enough as a bottom six penalty-killer to secure an opening night roster spot. He’s pegged as a fourth line grinder but hey, you have to start somewhere.

Jimmy Schuldt (2015-18) | Vegas Golden Knights – 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. 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 became a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) requiring the Golden Knights to sign him to a contract extension. His negotiations dragged on but ultimately he signed a one-way deal for $850,000 in September. It was a battle at defense with former BSU Beaver, Zach Whitecloud, Nicolas Hague and former Gopher Jake Bischoff. For now, Schuldt is on top and on the roster for opening night.

Ryan Poehling (2016-19) Montreal Canadiens Poehling will not be on the opening night roster. He was the final cut and was sent to the Laval Rocket of the AHL. The three-year Husky signed a three-year entry level deal with Montreal on March 31, 2019. He opened eyes with a hat trick in the Canadiens final game of the 2018-19 season and looked to be a shoe-in for opening night 2019. However, Poehling sustained a mild concussion after two exhibition games and simply didn’t get enough playing time as expected. “As I mentioned to Ryan this morning, it’s a question of time until he returns to Montreal,” GM Marc Bergevin said. “He only played two games. He was hurt and missed 10 days. That’s just the way it is. But we’re happy where he’s at and where he’s going.”

Blake Lizotte (2017-19) | LA Kings– It was a surprise to Husky fans when Lizotte signed a three-year entry level contract with the Los Angeles Kings on April 2, 2019. It’s now somewhat of a surprise he’s secured an opening night roster spot – if you haven’t been paying attention.  “I’m gaining a big trust in Blake,” coach Todd McLellan said of Lizotte. “If we had the draft this year, Blake Lizotte might have gone in the first round. I don’t know. He’s just a little bit older, he’s got a little more experience.” He’s earned the respect of veteran players like assistant captain Jeff Carter. It’s not a surprise for those of us that have watched him for two years in St. Cloud.

Nick Jensen (2010-13) | Washington Capitals – 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. With Matt Niskanen traded, it’ll open up ice time for Jensen. “I was obviously playing a pretty good amount of minutes back in Detroit, and I don’t expect to come in here and play those kind of minutes,” Jensen said. “There’s D here that know how to get the job done, and I’m coming in hopefully to relieve them of some of the stress there can be playing like 28 minutes a game, for Carlson, so hopefully it’s wherever they need it. I don’t want to take minutes away from guys, and I don’t want to throw them off their game or anything.”

Nick Dowd (2010-14) | Washington Capitals  – 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 for slightly over the league minimum on April 11, 2019 keeping him with the Capitals until 2022. There was little doubt that the 29 year-old Dowd who has logged 195 NHL games would make the opening night roster. However, he’s been battling a minor upper-body injury making his start to the season a little tenuous.

Dennis Cholowski (2016-17) | Detroit Red Wings – 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. It was that -20 plus/minus that got him demoted to Grand Rapids of the AHL in February. However, he beat out several first-round picks for his opening night roster spot.  “The trust factor, that was the biggest thing,” Cholowski said. “Being able to put me out in different situations, whether it be the last two minutes of a game or (penalty kill), being able to trust me to be physical and be able to get the puck away from the front of my net — I thought I did a pretty good job of that in preseason and here I am.”

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