A total of eight former Gophers have the potential to represent the United States with the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
USA Hockey has announced its 48 player roster -- including seven Minnesota alums -- for its U.S. Men's National Team Orientation Camp from Aug. 26-27 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. Minnesota leads all college programs with seven camp invitees as Erik Johnson, Nick Leddy, Paul Martin, Nick Bjugstad, Phil Kessel, Kyle Okposo and Blake Wheeler will compete for a spot on the U.S. Men's National Team.
USA Hockey also announced assistant coaches for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Tuesday morning with former Gopher All-American and current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards serving as an assistant for the U.S. Men's National Team.
The Gophers have had at least one representative in the last 18 Winter Olympic Games, dating back to 1936. Of the Minnesota players invited to camp in August, both Johnson and Kessel have skated for the U.S. Olympic team previously, earning a silver medal at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Richards, meanwhile, competed as a defenseman for the U.S. at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer.
The men's hockey competition at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia is set for Feb. 12-23.
We're proud to welcome back former Gopher and Stanley Cup champion Nick Leddy to Mariucci Arena on Friday afternoon in honor of the Eden Prairie native's accomplishments this year with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Leddy and the Stanley Cup will be at Mariucci Arena from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on Friday. The public event will be held in the main lobby of Mariucci Arena.
A total of 16 players with ties to Gopher hockey will participate in NHL development camps over the following weeks including nine current Gophers. Check out the list below to see who is playing where and how you can follow their camp performances.
Seth Ambroz -- The junior forward was selected by Columbus in the fifth round (128th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Ambroz posted career highs in points (16), goals (nine) and assists (7) during the 2012-13 campaign, doubling his production from his freshmen season the year before.
Mike Reilly -- The sophomore defenseman -- one of three Reilly brothers on Minnesota's roster this season -- was the Gophers' leading freshman scorer with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists). Selected by Columbus in the fourth round (98th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Reilly also skated with the U.S. National Junior Team and won gold at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. The defenseman had a goal and two assists in seven games at the tournament.
Jake Hansen -- The former Gopher skated in 46 regular-season games for the AHL's Springfield Falcons this season and helped Springfield make the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Hansen was selected 86th overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Adam Wilcox -- A Third Team All-WCHA pick as a freshman in 2012-13, Wilcox set a new Minnesota record for goals against average in a season at 1.88 (first in the WCHA, sixth in the nation) and also tied Kellen Briggs for the school rookie wins record with 25 victories in his rookie campaign. The Frank Pond Rookie of the Year for Minnesota last season, Wilcox was was selected by the Lightning with the organization's sixth-round pick (178th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Nate Condon -- As a junior forward in 2012-13, Condon set new career highs with 31 points and 12 goals for the Gophers. Minnesota's John Mayasich Outstanding Student-Athlete Award winner this season, Condon was selected by the Avalanche in the seventh round (200th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Christian Isackson -- Selected with Buffalo's seventh-round pick (203rd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Isackson found his groove as a sophomore with the Gophers in 2012-13 -- notching 20 points (four goals, 16 assists). Isackson skated in all 40 games for the Gophers last season after being held scoreless in 11 games as a freshman.
Travis Boyd -- As a sophomore in 2012-13, Boyd set new career highs with three goals, 11 assists and 14 points. The Hopkins, Minn., native was selected with Washington's sixth-round pick (177th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Nate Schmidt -- The junior defenseman closed out his collegiate career with Second Team All-America and First Team All-WCHA honors after leading the WCHA in scoring by a defenseman and ranking third nationally in the category. Minnesota's John Mariucci Most Valuable Player totaled nine goals and 23 assists in his junior season. Schmidt signed with Washington as a free agent following the 2012-13 season and skated with the Hershey Bears of the AHL.
Nick Bjugstad -- A Third Team All-WCHA team member in his final year with the Gophers, Bjugstad's 21 goals were a team high while the junior forward also tallied 36 points and 15 assists. An alternate captain for the Gophers last season, Bjugstad was selected 19th overall by the Panthers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Following the season, Bjugstad signed with Florida and had one goal in 11 games for the NHL club.
Erik Haula -- The junior forward led Minnesota in scoring for the second-straight year in 2012-13, tallying a career-high 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists). Haula -- a Second Team All-WCHA selection -- was drafted by Minnesota in the seventh round (182th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The alternate captain signed with the Wild following the season and skated with the Houston Aeros of the AHL.
Justin Holl -- Chicago's second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Holl split time between his natural position on defense and forward for the Gophers in 2012-13. The junior tallied seven points (three goals, four assists) and was named the team's Dr. V. George Nagobads Unsung Hero.
Mark Alt -- Alt tallied seven assists in his final season with the Gophers after skating in 39 games for the 2012-13 season. The junior defenseman was selected by Carolina with the Hurricanes' second-round pick (53rd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and then traded to the Flyers during the 2012-13 season. Alt signed with Philadelphia following the season and skated with the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms.
Zach Budish -- Minnesota's captain in 2012-13 was selected with Nashville's second-round pick (41st overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The redshirt junior tallied 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in his final year with the Gophers. Following the season, Budish signed with Nashville and skated with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.
Taylor Cammarata -- The incoming Gopher forward is expected to compete at the Islanders' prospect scrimmage this weekend after being selected by New York with the 76th overall pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft. Cammarata was named the USHL's Forward of the Year and Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring. Playing with Waterloo, Cammarata recorded 93 points (38 goals, 55 assists) in 59 regular-season games - the performance marks the second-highest point total for a season in league history. The forward also earned USHL Rookie of the Year honors in 2011-12, making him the first player in league history to win all three awards.
New Jersey Devils
Seth Helgeson -- New Jersey's fourth-round selection (114th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Helgeson had five assists as Minnesota's lone senior in 2012-13. An alternate captain for the Gophers, Helgeson signed with New Jersey following the season and skated with the team's AHL affiliate -- the Albany Devils.
Brady Skjei -- Skjei competed at the Rangers' prospect camp earlier this month after his freshman season with the Gophers in 2012-13 (Catch up with Skjei at camp here). The defenseman was selected 28th overall by the Rangers in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft with the team's first-round pick. As a freshman, Skjei tallied three points (one goal, two assists).
Former Gopher First Team All-American and eight-year NHL veteran Keith Ballard officially signed with the Minnesota Wild on Friday morning, agreeing to a two-year, $3 million deal that will bring the Baudette, Minn., native back to his home state.
Ballard has recorded 165 points (36 goals, 129 assists) in 545 games and spent the past three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, having also played with Phoenix and Florida during his career. The former Gopher was drafted 11th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
"This isn't a big homecoming celebration," Ballard told Michael Russo of the Star Tribune. "There's a lot of work to be done to re-establish my career. It's an important year for me. I'm not overly wrapped up in [the returning home] side of it. I'm just focused on putting all my efforts into having a good year and helping the team do well."
In 123 games with the Gophers from 2002-04, Ballard notched 100 career points (33 goals, 67 assists) and helped the program win back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003. The defenseman was a First Team All-American and a team captain in 2004 -- his final season with the Gophers.
Ballard is the third NHL veteran with Gopher ties to sign a new contract this week, joining Hobey Baker Award winner Jordan Leopold (St. Louis Blues) and Stanley Cup Champion Nick Leddy (Chicago Blackhawks).
Gopher Hockey alum Nick Leddy has agreed to a two-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks that will keep the restricted free agent with the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions through the 2014-15 season. Terms of the contract have not been released.
"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to remain in Chicago and be a part of this special group of young, experienced players," Leddy said in Wednesday's team release . "The organization is first class both on and off the ice, and I am honored to be a member of the Chicago Blackhawks."
As Pro Hockey Talk points out, Leddy has appeared in every Blackhawks game over the last two seasons and set career highs in goals (six), plus/minus (plus-15), power-play goals (two) and game-winning goals (two) in this year's shortened regular season. The Eden Prairie, Minn., native, who ranked third among Blackhawks defensemen with 18 total points in the regular season, added two assists in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games as Chicago went on to defeat the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
The 6-0, 191-pound defenseman has tallied 62 points (13 goals, 49 assists) in 176 career regular-season games with the Blackhawks from 2010 to 2013. He has recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in 36 career postseason contests.
"We are pleased to announce that Nick will remain a core member of our organization," said Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman. "Over the course of the past three seasons, Nick has shown continuous development and we think he will be essential to our long-term success."
The defenseman was drafted 16th overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2009 and was traded to Chicago with Kim Johnsson for Cam Barker in 2010. Leddy spent the 2009-10 season with the Gophers and tallied 11 points and eight assists in 30 collegiate games.
Leddy is the second Gopher to sign a two-year NHL contract on Wednesday after Hobey Baker Award winner Jordan Leopold inked a two-year deal to remain with the St. Louis Blues earlier in the day.
Hobey Baker Award winner and Gophers alum Jordan Leopold signed a two-year deal with the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday morning, reportedly worth $4.5 million, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Leopold, 32, had two assists in 15 regular-season games for St. Louis last year after being acquired from Buffalo in March. The defenseman, who also played in all six playoff games for the Blues, had eight points and six assists in 24 regular-season games for Buffalo before being dealt to St. Louis.
"He was here for a short period of time, and I thought that his experience was something that was beneficial to our team," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think that gives us maybe one of the strongest defenses in the league with both experience and youth, and it's something that is a good fit for us."
The 2012-13 season marked Leopold's 10th NHL season including stints with Calgary, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and St. Louis. In 625 regular-season games, the defenseman has 204 points, 65 goals and 138 assists. The Golden Valley, Minn., native, who was originally selected 44th overall by Anaheim in the second round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, also has 16 assists in 65 playoff games.
Minnesota's fourth Hobey Baker Award winner, Leopold was a two-time All-American and ranks first in school history for goals by a defensemen (45), third in points by a defensemen (144) and fourth in assists by a defensemen (99). The two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year capped an impressive college career by earning the 2002 Hobey Baker Award and then leading the Gophers to the NCAA title the following day at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Gophers defenseman and New York Rangers prospect Brady Skjei is currently in New York for the Rangers' 2013 Prospects Development Camp at the MSG Training Center, and the 2012 28th overall pick seems to be standing out in the first days of camp.
Skjei, who tallied a goal in Tuesday's intrasquad scrimmage, was the recipient of a glowing review from BlueShirts United.
"While Skjei surely was pleased with his goal, it was the strong positional play and shot-blocking of the Rangers 2012 first rounder which stood out the most during the scrimmage. That and the fact that Skjei has added ten pounds of muscle and now boasts a solid 205 pound frame surely had the Rangers brass feeling good."
Check out what the Lakeville, Minn., native had to say after Day 2 of camp:
In 2012-13, Leddy appeared in all 48 regular-season games
and all 23 playoff games for the Blackhawk. The defenseman tallied a
career-high six goals, totaled 20 points for season and was a plus-19 - the Eden
Prairie native's highest rating in a three-year professional career.
Leddy is the ninth Gophers alum to win the Stanley Cup and
the first to do so since Alex Goligoski in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
on the Stanley Cup
Bob Johnson (Coach)
Bob Johnson (Coach)
Check out some of the top Tweets last night for Leddy and the Blackhawks:
Congrats @ledpipe08! Cup party at Mariucci! First Gopher to win the Cup since @gollygoose33! Nick was always a class act and gamer for us!
Best of luck to former Gopher defenseman Nick Leddy as he and the Chicago Blackhawks open the 2013 Stanley Cup Final tonight against the Boston Bruins. Game One is set for 7 p.m. CT in Chicago and can be seen on NBC.
A native of Eden Prairie, Minn., Leddy notched a career-high six goals in this year's shortened regular season and skated in all 48 games for the Blackhawks -- collecting a total of 18 points. The defenseman finished the regular season as a plus-15 -- the highest rating of his career.
One of 15 former Gophers to play in the NHL this season, Leddy has also skated in 17 playoff games with two assists.
COMPLETE STANLEY CUP FINAL SCHEDULE (TIMES CDT)
Game 1: Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m., Chicago, Ill., NBC
Game 2: Saturday, June 15, 7 p.m., Chicago, Ill., NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Monday, June 17, 7 p.m., Boston, Mass., NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Wednesday, June 19, 7 p.m., Boston, Mass., NBC
* Game 5: Saturday, June 22, 7 p.m., Chicago, Ill., NBC
* Game 6: Monday, June 24, 7 p.m., Boston, Mass., NBC
* Game 7: Wednesday, June 26, 7 p.m., Chicago, Ill., NBC
Defending The Blue Line (DTBL) is proud to announce that the organization will host a NHL Players Charity Hockey Game on Saturday, August 3 at 3:00 p.m. at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota Campus. The game will feature U.S. born NHL players vs. Canadian born NHL players.
On Monday, July 1, tickets to the game and the player autograph session will go on sale exclusively at www.DefendingTheBlueLine.org. An initial roster of players participating will also be released and jerseys for the event will be unveiled at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub on July 1 from 6 to 9 p.m.
"We are very thankful for the great support NHL players continue to show our organization," said Shane Hudella, Defending the Blue Line President. "This game will provide hockey fans an excellent opportunity to watch NHL players away from the pressure of the pro game, and at the same time, help ensure military kids can play the game we all love."
Defending The Blue Line is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by a group of National Guard soldiers from Minnesota. The charity assists families of all branches of the military with costs associated with hockey. They provide financial assistance for registration fees, free equipment, summer hockey camps, and send many deserving families to watch National Hockey League games.
Defending The Blue Line is excited for this opportunity to further help military families and celebrate the service of our military heroes. Keeping the kids of military families focused and active in hockey is a great way to help keep their minds off of a parent's upcoming deployment.