Friday, April 1, 2011

More Early Signings - and More to Come

We're not even at the Frozen Four yet, but Division I players with college eligibility remaining have been setting sail for the pros for weeks now.

Boston College lost would-be seniors Cam Atkinson and Jimmy Hayes to Columbus and Chicago, respectively, although I can't say either player's signing was a complete surprise. Atkinson scored 61 goals the last two seasons and is now a Hobey Baker Award finalist, while Hayes just recorded a 21-goal campaign - and is also 6-foot-5 to boot. He's already played a game with the AHL's Rockford Ice Hogs, while both he and Atkinson already had a national championship ring from last season.

The Eagles' sophomore class may not be intact for long, either. It's wait and see if the New York Rangers will come calling for Chris Kreider's services, or if Carolina will try to pry Brian Dumoulin from the BC blueline. Dumoulin has reportedly said he's going back to school next fall, but that probably won't stop the Hurricanes from trying to get his signature on a contract before training camp starts.

Hockey East had earlier lost two rising juniors in Boston University's David Warsofsky and Maine's Gustav Nyquist, who went to Boston and Detroit, respectively, and are now both in the American Hockey League. Warsofsky has already skated in four contests with the Providence Bruins, while Nyquist posted a goal and an assist in his first two games with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

RIT lost junior forward Tyler Brenner to Toronto after he just missed out on a second trip to the NCAA Tournament with the Tigers. The Maple Leafs had earlier signed Wisconsin junior defenseman Jake Gardiner.

The ECAC wasn't immune, either, as junior netminder Allen York chose to go to Columbus after helping Rensselaer to its first national tournament berth in 16 years. Clarkson defenseman Mark Borowiecki said goodbye to a potential senior season in Potsdam and is now in Ottawa's system, as is former Michigan State rearguard Derek Grant, who passed up his last two years in East Lansing and in the CCHA.

It also wasn't an earth-shattering revelation that Stephane Da Costa left Merrimack this week after a pair of 40-plus point campaigns at the NCAA level. The France native inked a deal with Ottawa, and is set to make his NHL debut this weekend. That puts him head of other early signees, most of whom were expected to earn their indoctrination in the AHL. That includes Denmark native and former St. Cloud State defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, who is now with Philadelphia's affiliate in Adirondack.

Denver sophomore defenseman Matt Donovan recently walked away from his last two years with the Pioneers to sign with the New York Islanders, and has since reported to the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Also in Bridgeport is former Mercyhurst forward Phil Ginand, the first NCAA skater to sign early this spring.

The current college hockey season will end next Saturday night. The current silly season, as I call it (with a big nod to NASCAR) has a whole summer - and even autumn - to go.

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