Gophers’ men’s hockey pro signing tracker

The first Gophers’ player to sign was Mat Robson with the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

Mat Robson eyes the puck from the goal during the game against Arizona State on Friday, March 1, 2019 at 3M at Mariucci Arena.

Jack Rodgers

Mat Robson eyes the puck from the goal during the game against Arizona State on Friday, March 1, 2019 at 3M at Mariucci Arena.

by Drew Cove and Jack Warrick

Now that the Gophers’ men’s hockey season is over, keep track of the players that sign professional contracts here as they happen

Goaltender Mat Robson (March 18)

Minnesota Wild General Manager Paul Fenton announced Monday afternoon that the team was signing Minnesota junior goaltender Mat Robson to a two-year contract starting with the 2018-19 season.

Robson got the start and was in net when the Gophers’ season ended on Saturday after losing in overtime to Notre Dame in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals 2-1. Robson, a Mississauga, Ontario native, finished with a .921 save percentage on 31 starts this season. He led the Big Ten in saves with 950, and was named one of three finalists for the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year last week.

Robson started most of the Gophers’ hockey games this season, beating out former starter and two-time Big Ten Goaltender of the Year Eric Schierhorn for playing time. He transferred to the team last year, and had to sit out half of the season due to NCAA transfer rules. 

Robson was the only goaltender on the 2018-19 roster eligible to play next season.

The Minnesota Wild has two goaltenders on the NHL roster: Alex Stalock and Devan Dubnyk, and the Iowa Wild, it’s AHL affiliate, has two goalies on its roster as well.

Forward Tommy Novak (March 20)

The American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, the minor league affiliate team of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, signed senior forward Tommy Novak to an amateur try-out contract on Wednesday. 

Novak spent much of this season as one of the top centers for the Gophers. He collected 21 points in 38 games this season. Over his entire career, he had 88 points in 129 collegiate games with Minnesota. His most productive season statistically was his freshman year in 2015-16 with 27 points in 27 games.

The Predators’ organization acquired his NHL rights when it drafted him in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Goaltender Eric Schierhorn (March 21)

Another Gophers’ goaltender is on his way to a professional team. This time, it was senior Eric Schierhorn who signed a professional contract Thursday. He signed with the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL, one of the minor league affiliate teams of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. 

Schierhorn collected many accolades in his time with the Gophers. He was the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year twice, in each of his first two seasons with the team. He also set the program record for longest game-starting streak for a goaltender at 94 games. That mark ranks fourth in NCAA records.

Schierhorn led the team to two Big Ten regular season titles in 2016 and 2017, the same years he won Big Ten Goaltender of the Year. 

After he set his 94-game starting streak, Schierhorn began to see his time in the net decrease and that streak come to an end. That was due to former goaltender Mat Robson transferring and becoming eligible halfway through the 2017-18 season. During Schierhorn’s senior season, he played 11 games, 15 less than his next lowest season game total.

In all, Schierhorn appeared in 112 games for the Gophers and recorded 59 wins and 44 losses with four ties. 

Forward Rem Pitlick (March 22)

Another player signed before his eligibility was up, junior forward Rem Pitlick. Pitlick decided to not play his senior season with the Gophers and decided to sign with the NHL’s Nashville Predators on Friday.

Pitlick’s deal with the Predators is a two-year entry level contract. It is unclear as of Friday if Pitlick will be playing with the NHL club or its AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Admirals also signed Gophers’ forward Tommy Novak to an ATO.

Pitlick is the second player to forgo his senior season with Minnesota this year, as earlier this week junior goaltender Mat Robson signed with the Minnesota Wild. 

Pitlick quietly recorded 45 points in 38 games this season, which led the team in scoring. He had 21 goals, which was the most on the team, and the next highest goal scorer had 14. 

He finished his Gophers’ career as a near point-per-game player. Pitlick had 108 points in 112 games played for the team over three years. His junior and final season was by far his most productive, it eclipsed his next higest point total by 13 points.

Pitlick was originally drafted by the Predators in the third round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Forward Tyler Sheehy (March 22)

The Gophers’ last two-year captain has signed a professional contract. Senior Tyler Sheehy signed an amateur try-out contract with the Iowa Wild of the AHL, the minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Wild. 

Sheehy became the Gophers’ captain after his predecessor, Justin Kloos, followed a similar path to the next level. Kloos was a two-year captain and signed with the Wild organization to become a pro. Both Kloos and Sheehy were not selected in an NHL Entry Draft.

The Burnsville, Minnesota native’s best season came in his sophomore year, when he had 53 points with 20 goals and 33 assists. His production declined last season but surged again this season for 41 points, one spot behind forward Rem Pitlick for the lead on the team.

Sheehy will make his debut for the Iowa Wild on Friday. He will join another former Gophers’ captain, Kyle Rau, as a teammate on the ice in his professional debut.

Forward Brent Gates Jr. (March 22)

Shortly after one half of the Gophers’ captaincy signed a professional contract, the other half followed. Co-captain Brent Gates Jr. signed an amateur try-out contract with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL, the minor league affiliate for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. 

Gates was drafted by the Ducks in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and spent four seasons with the Gophers. Gates improved his production in each season with Minnesota culminating in 31 points in 38 games played this past season. 

Over the course of his four seasons with the team, he played in 148 games and missed out on just three possible contests. 

Gates will join former Gophers’ captain Justin Kloos in San Diego with the Gulls.

This article will be updated as more players sign professional contracts.

Defense Jack Sadek (March 28)

Gophers’ defense Jack Sadek signed an Amateur Tryout Agreement with the Iowa Wild on Thursday, the team’s general manager Tom Kurvers announced.

Sadek, a Lakeville, Minn. native, tallied 43 points in his four-year career with Minnesota, including a career-high 18 points and 14 assists this season on the top line. Sadek was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild. He is the first Gophers defense to sign a professional contract this season.

Teammate at Minnesota and 2018-19 Gophers’ captain Tyler Sheehy was signed by the Iowa Wild on March 22.