EDINA, Minn. – April 7, 2016 – Beginning the next stage of their hockey careers, 31 men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) players who played in the league during the 2015-16 season have signed professional contracts.
Minnesota State senior forward Teddy Blueger (Pittsburgh) and Ferris State junior Kyle Schempp (New York Islanders) have both signed entry-level contracts with the NHL clubs that drafted them, while a third player – Mavericks' junior defenseman Casey Nelson – went from undrafted prospect to NHL ice, inking a deal with Buffalo and debuting with the Sabres just one week after playing in the Final Five championship game. In fact, Nelson became the first Sabres player to record points in each of his first three NHL games since Calle Johannson in 1987-88, as the 2015-16 WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and first team All-WCHA selection tallied four assists in his first three contests.
"We are proud of our WCHA alumni that have an opportunity to continue their playing careers, and we wish them the very best of success, both on and off the ice," said WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson. "That our alumni are playing and succeeding at the professional level is a testament to their skill and dedication, along with the high caliber of coaching we have throughout the WCHA and the development these young men receive while playing in our league."
The full list of 2015-16 WCHA players to sign professional contracts is below (as of April 7, 2016).
|Name, Yr., Pos.||Pro Team (League)||WCHA School|
|Austin Sevalrud, Sr., D||Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL)||Alaska Anchorage|
|Blake Tatchell, Sr., F||Lake Erie Monsters (AHL)||Alaska Anchorage|
|Chris Williams, Sr., D||Norfolk Admirals (ECHL)||Alaska Anchorage|
|Josh Atkinson, Sr., D||Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL)||Alaska|
|Alec Hajdukovich, Sr., F||Alaska Aces (ECHL)||Alaska|
|Tyler Morley, Sr., F||San Diego Gulls (AHL)||Alaska|
|Graeme McCormack, Sr., D||Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)||Bemidji State|
|Cory Ward, Sr., F||St. John's IceCaps (AHL)||Bemidji State|
|Mark Cooper, Sr., F||Chicago Wolves (AHL)||Bowling Green|
|Dajon Mingo, Sr., F/D||Toledo Walleye (ECHL)^||Bowling Green|
|Ben Murphy, Sr., F||Tulsa Oilers (ECHL)||Bowling Green|
|Brent Tate, Sr., F||Toledo Walleye (ECHL)||Bowling Green|
|Brandon Anselmini, Sr., D||Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL)||Ferris State|
|Kenny Babinski, Sr., F||Alaska Aces (ECHL)||Ferris State|
|Simon Denis, Sr., D||Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL)||Ferris State|
|Kyle Schempp, Jr., F||New York Islanders (NHL)*||Ferris State|
|Eric Drapluk, Sr., D||Tulsa Oilers (ECHL)||Lake Superior State|
|Matt Johnson, Jr., F||Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL)||Lake Superior State|
|Austin McKay, Sr., F||Brampton Beast (ECHL)||Lake Superior State|
|Daniel Vernace, Sr., F||Brampton Beast (ECHL)||Lake Superior State|
|Malcolm Gould, Sr., F||Indy Fuel (ECHL)||Michigan Tech|
|C.J. Eick, Sr., F||Utah Grizzlies (ECHL)||Michigan Tech|
|Alex Petan, Sr., F||Iowa Wild (AHL)||Michigan Tech|
|Teddy Blueger, Sr. F||Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)#||Minnesota State|
|Bryce Gervais, Sr., F||Chicago Wolves (AHL)||Minnesota State|
|Jon Jutzi, Sr., D||Manitoba Moose (AHL)||Minnesota State|
|Dylan Margonari, Sr., F||Hershey Bears (AHL)||Minnesota State|
|Casey Nelson, Jr., D||Buffalo Sabres (NHL)||Minnesota State|
|Barrett Kaib, Sr., D||Rapid City Rush (ECHL)||Northern Michigan|
|Darren Nowick, Sr., F||Missouri Mavericks (ECHL)||Northern Michigan|
|Ryan Trenz, Sr., D||Alaska Aces (ECHL)||Northern Michigan|
^ - Mingo departed Bowling Green and signed with Toledo in December 2015.
* - Schempp signed a two-year, entry-level contract with New York that begins in 2016-17; he joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) on an amateur tryout contract for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.
# - Blueger signed a two-year, entry-level contract with Pittsburgh that begins in 2016-17; he joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) on an amateur tryout contract for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign.