WCHA's Top 10 Moments, 2015-16 - Moment #9: WCHA Alumni Find Professional Success
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Led by two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and NHL rookie sensation Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues, WCHA alumni continue to make an impact at the sport's highest levels. 2016 WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Casey Nelson went from the Final Five championship game with Minnesota State one Saturday to his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres the next weekend, while 33 players who played in the league last season have signed professional contracts.

Every weekday from May 23-June 3, we will be looking back at the top-10 moments from the 2015-16 WCHA season. Up next on our countdown is…

Moment #9: WCHA Alumni Find Professional Success

Led by two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and NHL rookie sensation Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues, WCHA alumni continue to make an impact at the sport's highest levels. 2016 WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Casey Nelson went from the Final Five championship game with Minnesota State one Saturday to his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres the next weekend, while 33 players who played in the league last season have signed professional contracts.

Parayko, who was earned league Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2014 and 2015, was one of just ten 2014-15 collegians to make an NHL opening night roster when he skated for St. Louis in the season opener. He quickly developed into one of the top young players in the NHL, leading all rookie skaters with a +28 rating and ranking second among first-year blue-liners with 33 points (9g-24a). He has teamed with fellow WCHA alumni and defenseman David Backes (Minnesota State) to help the Blues to their first Western Conference Final appearance since 2001, adding six points (2g-4a) and a +1 rating in 19 postseason contests (through May 23).

Nelson, who went from undrafted free agent to NHL ice, became the first Sabres player to record points in each of his first three NHL games since Calle Johansson in 1987-88. He finished with four assists, five shots on goal and a +1 rating in seven contests overall after debuting March 26.

"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, representing all 10 member institutions, to sign professional contracts is below (as of May 24, 2016).

Name, Yr., Pos. Pro Team (League) WCHA School
Jack Prince, Sr., F Manchester Storm (EIHL – England) Alabama Huntsville
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
Mathias Dahlstrom, Sr., G Södertälje SK (Allsvenskan – Sweden) Northern Michigan
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

Additionally, 24 alumni – representing all 10 current WCHA institutions – played in the NHL during the 2015-16 campaign. Michigan Tech alumnus John Scott authored perhaps the top feel-good story of the season, being voted in as captain of the Pacific Division All-Stars and then earning NHL All-Star Game MVP honors after leading his squad to the championship.

A full list of the 24 current WCHA member institution alumni to appear in the NHL during the 2015-16 season (through May 23, 2016):

Name, Pos. NHL Team School (Years)
Cam Talbot, G Edmonton Oilers Alabama Huntsville (2007-10)
Jay Beagle, RW Washington Capitals Alaska Anchorage (2005-07)
Chad Johnson, G Buffalo Sabres Alaska (2005-09)
Colton Parayko, D St. Louis Blues Alaska (2012-15)
Brad Hunt, D Edmonton Oilers Bemidji State (2008-12)
Matt Read, RW Philadelphia Flyers Bemidji State (2007-11)
Kevin Bieksa, D Anaheim Ducks Bowling Green (2000-04)
Ryan Carpenter, C San Jose Sharks Bowling Green (2011-14)
Andrew Hammond, G Ottawa Senators Bowling Green (2009-13)
Chris Kunitz, LW# Pittsburgh Penguins Ferris State (1999-2003)
Zach Redmond, D Colorado Avalanche Ferris State (2007-11)
Buddy Robinson, RW Ottawa Senators Lake Superior State (2011-13)
Zach Trotman, D Boston Bruins Lake Superior State (2009-12)
Pheonix Copley, G St. Louis Blues Michigan Tech (2012-14)
Tanner Kero, C Chicago Blackhawks Michigan Tech (2011-15)
Jujhar Khaira, LW Edmonton Oilers Michigan Tech (2012-13)
Blake Pietila, LW New Jersey Devils Michigan Tech (2011-15)
John Scott, D Arizona Coyotes/Montréal Canadiens Michigan Tech (2002-06)
David Backes, C^ St. Louis Blues Minnesota State (2003-06)
Ryan Carter, C Minnesota Wild Minnesota State (2004-06)
Tim Jackman, RW Anaheim Ducks Minnesota State (2000-02)
Kael Moullierat, LW Pittsburgh Penguins Minnesota State (2008-10)
Casey Nelson, D Buffalo Sabres Minnesota State (2013-16)
Mike Santorelli, C Anaheim Ducks Northern Michigan (2004-07)
^ - Captain; # - Alternate Captain