Over the past three seasons, the Univesity of Minnesota-Duluth college hockey team has been one of the top NCAA programs in the country. The Bulldogs have made three straight trips to the Frozen Four, winning two National Championships. When you have the success that they have had, it’s only a matter of time before the professional organizations coming calling.
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That is the case for the Boston Bruins. After drafting Minnesota-Duluth commit Quinn Olson in last year’s Entry Draft, the Bruins signed one of the Bulldogs captains from this season’s team to an undrafted free agent contract recently. It makes the second Bulldog in two years that has signed with Boston as an undrafted free agent as NHL teams hope to hit it big in the undrafted free agent college pool.
Bruins Sign Karson Kuhlman in 2018
In early April 2018, Karson Kuhlman captained Minnesota-Duluth to a 2-1 win over Notre Dame in the NCAA championship game. He even took home MVP honors for the tournament after scoring a goal and having an assist in the win over the Fighting Irish.
Three days after leading the Bulldogs to the title, Kuhlman signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Bruins. In four years, he scored 39 goals and had 41 assists in 166 career games in college. Kuhlman began the 2018-19 season in Providence with Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate. He scored 12 goals and had 13 assists before being called up to the big club.
David Pastrnak was injured in early February 2019 and David Backes was a healthy scratch in a game when Kuhlman was given an opportunity with the Bruins in his NHL debut. He ended up playing in 11 regular-season games and scoring three goals, before playing in eight playoff games on the Bruins run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Kuhlman has played in 25 games this season for the Bruins, mostly as a bottom-six wing and even played a little center before the season was paused due to the coronavirus. He is working on the second and final year of his contract that pays out $750,000 annually.
It will be interesting to see what general manager Don Sweeney and the Bruins decide to do with Kuhlman. Since Boston traded for Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase at the trade deadline, Kuhlman was sent down to Providence, and he’s one of Boston’s free agents that they will have to make a decision on this summer.
Bruins Ink Nick Wolff on March 18
For the second time in three years, the Bruins are diving into the Minnesota-Duluth roster by signing another key cog to their latest National Championship team. Boston signed Nick Wolff to a one-year undrafted free agent contract making it the second player that coach Scott Sandelin is sending to the Black and Gold.
The 23-year-old defenseman is well-known to the Bruins. For the last two summers, he has participated in their development camps at Warrior Arena. In four years in a Minnesota-Duluth uniform, Wolff scored 14 goals and had 39 assists in 156 career games.
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His list of accomplishments is impressive. He is a finalist for the National Collegiate Hockey League Defensive Defenseman of the year. He played in three straight Frozen Four championship games, winning two (2017-18 and 2018-19) as part of 12 career NCAA tournament games played. Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, he did not have an opportunity to win a third title in four years as the college hockey season was canceled.
At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Wolff fits the bill of what the Bruins like – big and physical defensemen. They have had very good success with Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo. Boston hopes that by signing Wolff as an undrafted free agent, they might be able to hit it big in the future with him on their blue line.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.