Weekend reading: Stuart, Haula, PSU, North Dakota, Denver

Former Tiger Mark Stuart gets high praise as one of the NHL’s top 10 shutdown defensemen by Bleacher Report.

Minnesota’s Erik Haula ran afoul of the law recently. Fallout from the misdemeanor will be handled internally, coach Don Lucia said.

The North Dakota beat writer gives his take how Penn State hockey could be affected by the NCAA sanctions against the football program.

Former UND goalie Jordan Parise, brother of the more famous Zach, has seen his professional career go in a different direction.

A former Denver captain is back home playing for the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. Luke Salazar is headed to Norway.

NHL free agency: Wild ink Connelly to two-year, two-way deal

The Wild brass continue to make smart moves including this very good depth signing. This was a smart move by former Tiger Brian Connelly, pictured in foreground, who reportedly did not seem a good fit for the Flames organization.

Tiger fans can expect Connelly to make his NHL debut and  spend a little time in St. Paul this season depending on the big club’s health.

He joins Nate Prosser and Chad Rau at the Minnesota training camp later this summer/fall.

Here is the updated list of former Tigers testing the waters of free agency as of 9a.m. MT this July 7.

They are (name, 2011-12 team):  Richard Bachman, (Dallas): Mark Cullen (Florida); Kris Fredheim (Wild); Trevor Frischmon, (Islanders); Richard Petiot (Tampa Bay);  Brett Sterling (Blues), and Colin Stuart (Sabres).

From NHL.com …

The Minnesota Wild bolstered its defensive depth late Friday night by inking defenseman Brian Connelly to a two-year, two-way deal. The move gives the Wild an added weapon from the blue line capable of contributing at the offensive end and displaying outstanding puck moving ability and skating.

The Bloomington native split time between the Abbotsford Heat and Rockford IceHogs last season of the American Hockey League. His 52 points (6-46=52) ranked second amongst defensemen in the AHL.

Connelly has played in the AHL All-Star Game the last two seasons. At last year’s AHL Skills Competition, he represented the Western Conference in the Fastest Skater Competition.

The 26-year-old has played professionally. For three seasons, all in the AHL. Before turning pro, the blueliner was a three-year standout at Colorado College. With the Tigers, he amassed 63 points (8-55=63) and was a teammate of Nate Prosser and Chad Rau.

A left-handed shot, Connelly is listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds.

Thursday reading: Slavin, Parise, Suter, DU, Tech, UMass job, Trouba

Tigers 2013 signee Jaccob Slavin, pictured, says he plans to play three years at Colorado College before turning pro.

Suddenly, the Minnesota Wild matter after the signing of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, both former WCHA standouts.

With Suter signed, Denver alumnus Matt Carle found a new home in Tampa Bay.

Another former Badger joined the Wild too. Former Michigan Tech captain Brett Olson is at the Wild development camp.

Holy Cross’ Paul Pearl is said to be the lead contender for the open UMass coaching job. Here are some of the other likely candidates.

Accidents look the lives of this former Sacred Heart captain and Denver’s Ted O’Leary recently. My condolences to their friends and families.

The Kitchener Rangers are upset about the $200,000 payment reportedly offered for Michigan signee Jacob Trouba. His family has since denied it. This is not the first time the CHL teams have been accused of offering big money and nothing has come of it.

NHL free agency: Wild land Parise, Suter

Reports from credible sources say both top free agents Zach Parise, a former North Dakota standout, and the top available forward, will be joined by the top available defenseman, former Badgers standout Ryan Suter of Nashville in St. Paul.

If so, this is a HUGE day for the Minnesota Wild franchise. You may want to buy your season tickets now, because they will sell quickly once this is confirmed. FYI, The Wild will need that ticket revenue to pay those two.

ESPN reported both deals are for 13 years and $98 million, which locks them up through the 2024-25 season and would carry a salary cap hit of $7.538 million per campaign.

Here is an updated version of the story from nhl.com. Here is some excellent detail from the Wild beat writer, who also suggests how both their significant others played a big role in coming to the Twin Cities.

NHL free agency: McElhinney to Columbus, North Dakota, Duluth

It looks like former Tiger Curtis McElhinney will be contending for the No. 2 role in Columbus as a veteran backup. All the other netminders are 25 or younger on the team’s NHL roster while the “In The System” goalies are 20 and 19.

From NHL.com …

The Columbus Blue Jacketshave signed goaltender Curtis McElhinney, 29, to a one-year, two-way NHL-American Hockey League contract, club Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Scott Howson announced Sunday. McElhinney will earn $750,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level.

McElhinney, 29, has appeared in 69 career NHL games with the Flames, Ducks and Senators, compiling a 19-26-4 record with a 3.09 goals-against average, .899 save percentage and two shutouts. He was 1-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .944 SV% in two games with Phoenixin 2011-12, while going 10-13-0 with a 3.04 GAA and .907 SV% in 25 games with the AHL’sPortland Pirates. He was acquired by Columbus from Phoenix, along with two draft picks (second round in 2012 and fifth round in 2013), in exchange for Antoine Vermette on February 22, 2012 but did not appear in any games due to injury.

A native of London, Ontario, McElhinney was Calgary’s ninth pick, 176th overall, in the 2002 NHL Draft. He has appeared in 156 AHL games with Omaha, Quad-City and Portland and has posted a 74-62-5 record with a 2.39 GAA, .904 SV% and 13 shutouts since 2005. He was named to the AHL Second All-Star Team in 2007 after going 35-17-1 with a 2.13 GAA, .917 SV% and seven shutouts in 57 games with Omaha. Prior to his professional career, he spent four seasons at Colorado College, where he registered a 62-16-8 record with a 2.32 GAA and nine shutouts in 91 career games. In 2003, he was named to the WCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA West Second All-American Team, while being named to the WCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA West First All-American Team in 2005.

Here is a link to all the North Dakota free agents and where they and former Minnesota-Duluth players have signed as of Monday morning.

Monday reading: LaLeggia, Schultz, APR scores, WMU, Mankato

This graphic shows the increased number of former collegians playing in the NHL.    Courtesy College Hockey, Inc.

About 60 future NHL Draft hopefuls were shown how going to college often leads to the NHL.

Let the Justin Schultz free agency derby begin. Pittsburgh looks ready to make a run at former UND star Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter.

DU’s Joey LaLeggia proves it never hurts to have friends in high places. His friendship with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the Oilers to selecting the 5-foot-8 defenseman in the fifth round Saturday. This could be a real nice pick for Edmonton who may have found a good two-way deal player.

Here are the Division I hockey APRs with Brown, Boston University, Dartmouth, New Hampshire, Notre Dame, Princeton and St. Lawrence all receiving perfect scores. CC was tied for 16th with RPI with a 994, well above the 982 average which was second in NCAA behind only men’s gymnastics.

The scores, which are based on eligibility and retention of scholarship players, include data from the 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.

Here is a feature on a Western Michigan signee who the Red Wings hope develop into a physical player under Andy Murray’s tutelage. Michael McKee racked up 237 penalty minutes in 59 games last season.

Here is a look at MSU-Mankato coaches’ salaries.

Weekend reading: Interesting 2014 WCHA playoff format, North Dakota nickname, Jaden and Mandi Schwartz, Parise, Big 10

The WCHA announced its nine-team playoff format which includes Anchorage and Fairbanks playing in a best-of-three first-round series every time unless one is the No. 1 seed.

It is clearly a cost-cutting measure so the league does not have to pay for two teams’ round trips to or from Alaska, but could make for some weird playoff scenarios in March 2014.

Here are more details from the Mankato beat writer and a reaction from the UND reporter.

Also, there was no word about any move toward adding Alabama Huntsville. Too bad. There is a lot of unfinished business ahead for the new-look WCHA. There was no word on the postseason venue either.

The state Board of Higher Education has directed the University of North Dakota to retire its Fighting Sioux nickname. State residents voted overwhelmingly earlier this week to uphold the Legislature’s repeal of a state law requiring the school to use the nickname. The moniker that the NCAA finds offensive had been brought out of retirement for a second time while the measure was decided.

Board President Grant Shaft, of Grand Forks, says there’s not much more that can be said about the issue that hasn’t been said already. UND will be asked to report its progress at a later date.

Former Tiger Jaden Schwartz will get to see the CHL’s Memorial Cup firsthand this week.

One of Mandi Schwartz‘s former teammates is a finalist for a league award in her honor.

The Minnesota Wild keep being mentioned as the possible new homes for free agents Ryan Sutter and Zach Parise. This may be a case of wishful thinking judging from this NHL.com interview by Parise.

Here is a feature on UNO recruit Brian Cooper of Anchorage.

The Big Ten paid out $24,6 million to its member schools.

The Fargo arena is in financial trouble. The Dartmouth women add an assistant.

Division III New England ran afoul of the NCAA’s financial aid rules. UMass has lost its radio home.

The dream is one step closer to fruition: the Penn State club hockey web site shut down voluntarily since the varsity program is handled by the university. Follow TYT for PSU updates.

Here is a look at the Mercyhurst program.

Wednesday reading: Grimaldi, Sioux vote, NCHC, Skating for Hope

According to the Grand Forks Herald, Rocco Grimaldi will be a freshman next season and eligible for WCHA rookie of the year.

The state’s voters have voted to eliminate the Sioux nickname in convincing fashion. No doubt there will be some more legal wrangling but it will be much harder for nickname supporters to keep up the fight now.

Yes: 113,684 (67.35%)

No: 55,114 (32.65%)

426/426 Precincts reporting.  A “Yes” vote retires the nickname.

Zach Parise may be looking at the Wild now that he is a free agent. I am not ready to buy that just yet. The Kings are more likely since they can expect to be a playoff contender.

Here are some good details from the NCHC postseason announcement, including a logo in the next three weeks and talk of a new league championship trophy.

The second “Skating for Hope” fundraiser is coming up.

Friday reading: Parise, LeBlanc, NCHC details,You Can Play Project

Former North Dakota standout Zach Parise is the No. 2 free agent out there this offseason, which could start as soon as Sunday morning for him. The N.Y. Post looks at possible suitors.

Here is more on deceased longtime Minnesota-Duluth fan Dick Stewart. The blog post also includes an update on SCSU’s Drew LeBlanc.

Here are some more details on the NCHC postseason tournament venue from the Grand Forks Herald.

UMass-Lowell announced its 2012-13 schedule, which includes a road game at CC.

Denver hockey and other Pioneer teams have joined the You Can Play Project, releasing videos in support of LGBT athletes and respect in sports.

NHL enforcer Derek Boorgard‘s final descent was paved by prescription painkillers.