After the high of capturing the 2016 Frozen Four, North Dakota is now dealing with the ramifications of success.
On Wednesday, junior defenseman Keaton Thompson — Anaheim’s third-round pick in 2013 — signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Ducks, forgoing his senior season in the process.
Thompson, 20, scored a career-best 17 points in 43 games this year. The O.C. Register described him as a “defensive stalwart” and, according to the Grand Forks Herald, the school expected him to go pro.
Thompson’s departure comes just days after another UND junior — blueliner Troy Stecher — signed a two-year deal with Vancouver, forgoing his senior year as well.
Meanwhile, Frozen Four most outstanding player Drake Caggiula — a senior that was already leaving school — has begun his tour of interested NHL suitors. Per TSN, Caggiula has shortlisted six clubs: Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.
As for the rest of North Dakota’s key players? Well, freshman scoring sensation and (and first-round pick of Vancouver) Brock Boeser already said he’s going back to school, as did junior defenseman Gage Ausmus.
There’s still some uncertainty around junior d-man Paul LaDue, a L.A. Kings draft pick. It’s possible the 23-year-old will turn pro, rather than return for his senior year.