Derek Lee will continue his hockey career next year in Norway (Greg Anderson photo).
July 16, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- While the faded echoes of steel on ice whisper off the walls at the Kohl Center, the world of Wisconsin men's hockey is not silent as the summer heats up.
From Hall of Fame elections, NHL contracts, professional prospects and the futures of last year's seniors, it is time to get you updated on the comings and goings of Badger hockey.
Last Tuesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto elected former Badger Chris Chelios into its hallowed halls in his first year of eligibility. "The greatest American-born player" in hockey history became the first Badger alum to reach the shrine. He will officially join "Badger Bob" Johnson this November.
News about three current NHL Badgers includes Madison, Wis., native Jack Skille signing a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The two-way contract means he will make a different salary depending of if he plays in the NHL or AHL.
The biggest signing came in New York as superstar defenseman Ryan McDonagh reportedly inked a six-year deal with the team that make him the squad's highest-paid defenseman.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert was bought out for the remainder of his contract as somewhat a victim of the newest collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA this past season. He is now a free agent and can sign with any team, but the Wild.
1990 NCAA champion Badger, 2006 NCAA champion Badger coach and former NHL defenseman Mark Osiecki was hired last week as the assistant coach for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. Osiecki makes his first foray into the professional ranks after spending the past three years as head coach at Ohio State.
2010 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Blake Geoffrion announced this week that he is retiring from his hockey career, for the time being. He is taking a position as a scout with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets. Here's great read by ESPN's John Buccigross on Blake.
If you are wondering what the Wisconsin's departing skaters from last season are up to, just keep your eyes on the ice. All three seniors and sophomore Brendan Woods are continuing their hockey careers. While Brendan Woods left school early to sign a contract with the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, senior captain John Ramage inked a deal with the Calgary Flames. He will attempt to make the team this fall during his first year as a pro.
Former Badger assistant captain Derek Lee signed a pro contract and will head overseas to Norway to skate for the Tonsberg Vikings. Also, former assistant captain Ryan Little is expected to be skating in the ECHL next season. An official announcement is forthcoming.
Finally, 14 current, former and future Badgers have, are or will take part in NHL prospect camps this summer. The camps bring each organization's prospects together where they typically spend time on the ice practicing and off the ice strength conditioning, learning about nutrition and doing some team bonding. The camps generally involve each team's drafted prospects, as well as potential free agents.
This year's list includes:
Tyler Barnes - Pittsburgh Penguins
Grant Besse and Nic Kerdiles - Anaheim Ducks
Joseph LaBate - Vancouver Canucks
Jake McCabe and Brad Navin - Buffalo Sabres
Michael Mersch - Los Angeles Kings
John Ramage - Calgary Flames
Joel Rumpel and Jason Clark - New York Islanders
Frankie Simonelli - Montreal Canadiens
Jedd Soleway - Phoenix Coyotes
Eddie Wittchow - Florida Panthers
Brendan Woods - Carolina Hurricanes
A 15th potential attendee, New Jersey Devils' defenseman Joe Faust, is skipping the New Jersey camp because of a presentation and test for a summer class.