UND’s Gersich signs with Capitals: Could become school’s 100th NHL player after Wolanin’s debut
GRAND FORKS — University of North Dakota junior defenseman Christian Wolanin made his NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, March 22, and a classmate of his could be doing the same in the near future.
UND junior forward Shane Gersich officially signed his NHL deal with the Washington Capitals on Friday morning — a move that had been expected for the last two days.
Gersich is joining Washington on the road in Montreal, where the Capitals will play the Canadiens on Saturday night.
If Gersich plays in one of Washington’s final eight games of the season, he will become the 100th former UND player to play in the NHL. The Capitals also are in line for a playoff spot.
Wolanin and Gersich are UND’s ninth and 10th early NHL signings in the last three offseasons — the most of any team in the nation. No other team outside of Boston College (eight) has lost more than eight early during that timespan.
UND isn’t expected to lose any more this offseason to early NHL signings.
Sophomore defenseman Colton Poolman, junior forward Nick Jones and junior centerman Rhett Gardner all have said they plan to return for next season.
Gersich, a fifth-round pick of the Capitals, scored 13 goals and tallied 29 points as a junior. He led the team with 21 goals as a sophomore.
Wolanin played 17 minutes, 9 seconds in his NHL debut on Thursday night against his former UND teammate, Drake Caggiula, and the Edmonton Oilers. Caggiula scored two goals in the game.
Wolanin, wearing No. 86, had an even plus-minus rating and made two hits. He even saw some power-play time.
Of the 19 players who played against Quinnipiac in UND’s 2016 NCAA national championship victory, eight are currently in the NHL — Wolanin, Gersich, Caggiula, Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser, Paul LaDue, Tucker Poolman and Troy Stecher.