UW Health Sports Medicine 

Tracking Badger alumni and the NHL

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It has been an eventful offseason for the Wisconsin men's hockey team and its dealings with the National Hockey League. There have been free agent signings, graduate signings and early departures to the league. There have also been prospect camps, and a short list of former Badgers are still waiting to find out where they'll end up for the coming year.


If you are keeping score, two former Badgers changed NHL franchises, five signed their first NHL deals, three pros from last season are unrestricted free agents, three others signed with the same team as last season, one is a restricted free agent and 13 former and current Badgers attended or are attending NHL prospect camps.


The most impactful to Badger fans as it relates to the 2010-11 Badgers are the four underclassmen who have signed NHL contracts. To recap, the New York Rangers inked Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, while the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Cody Goloubef and the Detroit Red Wings brought Brendan Smith into the fold.


After that, five players who will be on the Kohl Center ice for next year took part in NHL prospect camps. Blue liners Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz spent time at the Anaheim Ducks camp. In addition, returning forward Craig Smith joined former Badger Blake Geoffrion at the Nashville Predators camp, while Podge Turnbull skated with the Los Angeles Kings. Finally, incoming Badger forward Jason Clark took part in the New York Islanders prospect camp.


In addition to those six players, seven additional former Badgers skated in camps, including McDonagh, Stepan, Goloubef and Brendan Smith, as well as Andy Bohmbach and John Mitchell, who skated in Chicago, and Kyle Klubertanz, who took part in the Montreal Canadiens camp.


All of these players hope to one day make it to the world's best hockey league and add to the Badgers in the NHL legacy.


Some of those already in the NHL look to continue to add to that legacy. San Jose's Joe Pavelski, St. Louis' Brad Winchester and Minnesota's Robbie Earl are three who resigned with the team they skated with last season.


Stanley Cup champion Adam Burish, who won the Cup this year with the Chicago Blackhawks, has already moved on and signed a deal with the Dallas Stars. He is not the only Badger to change organizations, however, as Brian Fahey, who still looks to make his NHL debut, left the Colorado Avalanche franchise to sign with the Washington Capitals.


Among those looking for a team are unrestricted free agents Chris Chelios, Andy Wozniewski and Joe Piskula. Chelios (Atlanta) and Wozniewski (Boston) saw NHL time last season, while Piskula (Los Angeles) has in the past.


One more former Badger with NHL experience who is searching for a home is Madison, Wis., native Jack Skille. Skille is a group 2 free agent, which means if a team other than Chicago signs him to a deal, the Blackhawks can match the offer. If Chicago doesn't match, they will receive draft pick compensation should the forward sign for more than just over $1 million a year.


It has been an interesting offseason for the Blackhawks following their Stanley Cup victory. The organization has been forced to trade away some of its key parts from the Cup run because of salary cap issues. Those trades should leave room for someone like Skille or even former Badger Jake Dowell, to stick with the NHL team in the upcoming season.


That leaves nine other former Badgers not mentioned who already have previous contracts, so they are working out in preparation for the upcoming season with little stress. Those include Calgary's Rene Bourque, Los Angeles' Davis Drewiske, Ottawa's Brian Elliott, Edmonton's Tom Gilbert, San Jose's Dany Heatley, Detroit's Brian Rafalski, Florida's Steve Reinprecht, Nashville's Ryan Suter and Carolina's Jamie McBain.


UW has had 65 Badgers skate in the NHL, all time, including 17 during the 2009-10 season.


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