UW Health Sports Medicine 

Badgers in the NHL: comings and goings


Ustaski
Matthew Ustaski

July 15, 2014

MADISON, Wis. -- Like everything else, change is part of the world of hockey, and each college and NHL offseason brings big changes when it comes to the home states of former Badger men's hockey players.

The annual carousel of coaches and players moving cities is well underway and some know their home cities for the 2014-15 season, while others still wonder where they might be calling home come this fall.

A group of five Badgers from the 2006 NCAA championship team each had short-lived free agency periods, with three of the five finding new homes. Tom Gilbert, the game-winning goal scorer in the 2006 NCAA title game, signed a two-year contract to play defense for the Montreal Canadiens. He joins former Badger teammate Rene Bourque with the Canadiens.

Gilbert had three goals and 28 points in 73 games with the Florida Panthers last season, and boasts 39 goals and 240 points in 520 NHL games between the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild and Panthers.

Another 2006 tournament hero, Jack Skille, found a home with the New York Islanders. Forever known for his triple overtime game-winning goal against Cornell in the regional final in Green Bay, Skille inked a one-year, two-way contract with the Islanders. Skille had four goals in 16 games last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also skated in six playoff games. Skille has 24 goals and 53 points in 194 career NHL games played.

When a player signs a two-way contract, it means that player will get paid at a different salary depending on if he is playing in the NHL or in the minor leagues. A one-way contract means that a player gets paid their full NHL salary no matter where a player skates.

The goaltender for the 2006 run was Brian Elliott, who signed a three-year deal to remain with the St. Louis Blues. In 31 games last season, Elliott went 18-6-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and four shutouts. He ranked second in the NHL in goals-against average and 11th in both save percentage and shutouts. According to NHL.com, over the last three seasons, Elliott ranks second in the NHL with a .680 win percentage (55-24-7) and leads the league with 16 shutouts. Those 16 shutouts are tied for second in Blues history.

In all, Elliott has played for Ottawa, Colorado and St. Louis in his seven-year NHL career. His record is 116-77-23, with a 2.48 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and 25 shutouts in 235 career regular-season games.

Two more members of the 2006 team signed deals, with defenseman Joe Piskula staying in the Nashville Predators organization and forward Ben Street switching from the Calgary Flames organization to the Colorado Avalanche organization.

Piskula signed a one-year, two-way contract. He has skated 12 career NHL games with Los Angeles, Calgary and Nashville since departing UW after the 2006-07 season.

Street signed a two-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche after playing in 13 games with the Calgary last season. He has two assists in 19 career NHL games with the Flames.

One other Badger signing is in the books, with forward Dany Heatley making the move from the Minnesota Wild to the Anaheim Ducks. Heatley signed a one-year deal the Ducks. In 863 career games, Heatley boasts 372 goals and 791 points. The two-time 50-goal scorer has skated in four NHL All-Star Games and won the 2002 Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. He joins Nic Kerdiles in the Anaheim organization.

Defenseman Cody Goloubef re-signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets in a one-year, two-way deal. Goloubef skated in five NHL games last season and boasts 17 career NHL contests.

One assistant coaching change of address involved Tony Granato, who goes from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Detroit Red Wings.

A few former Badgers are looking for new homes as defenseman Jamie McBain is a free agent after skating last season with the Buffalo Sabres. Forward Jake Dowell, who was with the Minnesota Wild organization last year, is unsigned. Forward Brad Winchester is also a free agent.

Two former Badger teammates, both defensemen, are Group 2 free agents, which means their NHL teams have made qualifying offers that would make another team signing have to provide compensation in the form of money and/or draft picks. Edmonton Oiler Justin Schultz and Toronto Maple Leaf Jake Gardiner both await signed deals in similar circumstances.

One last note with regards to NHL changes. Forward Patrick Eaves, son of UW head coach Mike Eaves, signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars. Eaves spent last season with the Detroit Red Wings, before getting traded to the Nashville Predators.

As for current and recent Badgers and the NHL, seven have or will take part in NHL Development camps this summer. These camps are for team prospects to get a taste of what it is like to be a professional hockey player. College players pay their own way, take part in training sessions and meet some potential future teammates.

Former Badger Joe Faust is skating at the New Jersey Devils camp, while Nic Kerdiles was at the Anaheim Ducks camp. Current Badger Grant Besse also skated in Anaheim's camp. Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe, who saw NHL action at the end of last season, is at the Sabres camp this week.



Others at camps include Eddie Wittchow for the Florida Panthers, Jedd Soleway for the Arizona Coyotes, and Matthew Ustaski with the Winnipeg Jets.

BADGER NHL SIGNINGS
PLAYER NEW TEAM OLD TEAM
Brian Elliott St. Louis Blues St. Louis Blues
Tom Gilbert Montreal Canadiens Florida Panthers
Cody Goloubef Columbus Blue Jackets Columbus Blue Jackets
Dany Heatley Anaheim Ducks Minnesota Wild
Joe Piskula Nashville Predators Nashville Predators
Jack Skille New York Islanders Columbus Blue Jackets
Ben Street Colorado Avalanche Calgary Flames
Jake Dowell Unsigned Minnesota Wild
Jake Gardiner Unsigned Toronto Maple Leafs
Jamie McBain Unsigned Buffalo Sabres
Justin Schultz Unsigned Edmonton Oilers
Brad Winchester Unsigned Minnesota Wild
Tony Granato (Assistant Coach) Detroit Red Wings Pittsburgh Penguins
BADGERS AT NHL DEVELOPMENT CAMPS
PLAYER TEAM
Grant Besse Anaheim Ducks
Jedd Soleway Arizona Coyotes
Matthew Ustaski Winnipeg Jets
Eddie Wittchow Florida Panthers
FORMER BADGERS AT NHL DEVELOPMENT CAMPS
Joe Faust New Jersey Devils
Nic Kerdiles Anaheim Ducks
Jake McCabe Buffalo Sabres
ON WISCONSIN
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