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15 former UND players make opening-night NHL rosters

Jake Sanderson is likely to make his NHL debut Thursday night in Buffalo.

UND recruit Shane Pinto meets with the media after being selected with the first pick of the second round by the Ottawa Senators.
Photo by Brad Elliott Schlossman / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Ottawa Senators fans have eagerly anticipated their arrival for a few years.

Now, a couple of the NoDak Sens are there.

Defenseman Jake Sanderson is expected to make his NHL debut Thursday night when the Senators open the regular season at Buffalo. He will be the 109th former UND player to play in the NHL.

His old Fighting Hawks teammate, Shane Pinto, also is expected to be in the lineup for Ottawa. Pinto suffered a season-ending injury last November.

Sanderson and Pinto are two of 15 former UND players on opening-night NHL rosters.


The list includes some longtime NHLers like Zach Parise (1,142 NHL regular-season games) and Brock Nelson (676) with the New York Islanders, captain Jonathan Toews (1,014) with the Chicago Blackhawks, T.J. Oshie (900) with the Washington Capitals.

It also features four members of UND's 2016 NCAA national championship team. East Grand Forks' Tucker Poolman will line up alongside Brock Boeser on the Vancouver Canucks, and Nick Schmaltz will lineup with Troy Stecher on the Arizona Coyotes.

Brad Malone, who was signed to an NHL deal midway through last season, made the Edmonton Oilers out of camp.

Brad Elliott Schlossman module image

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Freshman classmates Tyson Jost (Minnesota Wild) and Cole Smith (Nashville Predators) will start in the NHL. In fact, Smith already has registered a point this season, grabbing an assist in Nashville's season-opener against the San Jose Sharks in Prague, Czechia.

Defenseman Derek Forbort is back with the Boston Bruins for a second year. Defenseman Matt Kiersted made the Florida Panthers out of camp, but will start the season on injured reserve after sustaining an injury during a preseason game.

There are 13 former UND players on NHL contracts who will start the season in the American Hockey League, but could get called up at any time.

That list includes Collin Adams (New York Islanders), Jacob Bernard-Docker (Ottawa Senators), Drake Caggiula (Pittsburgh Penguins), Aaron Dell (San Jose Sharks), Rhett Gardner (Dallas Stars), Paul LaDue (New York Islanders), Zane McIntyre (Minnesota Wild), Grant Mismash (Tampa Bay Lightning), Austin Poganski (Seattle Kraken), Colton Poolman (Calgary Flames), Adam Scheel (Dallas Stars), Jasper Weatherby (San Jose Sharks) and Christian Wolanin (Vancouver Canucks).

Former UND forward Rocco Grimaldi went to camp with the Anaheim Ducks and participated in preseason games, but he did not make the Ducks' roster out of camp. The Athletic reported the Ducks are interested in signing Grimaldi to an AHL deal.


In the coaching ranks, former UND captain and head coach Dave Hakstol returns for his second year behind the bench in Seattle. The Kraken finished 27-49-6 as an expansion team last season.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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