UND may be losing a staggering amount of offense to the NHL this offseason, but coach Brad Berry and his staff are making notable moves to replace it.
The Fighting Hawks grabbed a commitment Wednesday from the most prominent player currently available in the NCAA transfer portal in Lake Superior State junior forward Ashton Calder.
Calder scored 16 goals last season to tie for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's goal-scoring title with Bowling Green's Connor Ford, who previously announced he was transferring to UND as well.
With Calder and Ford joining forces with UND senior-to-be Jasper Weatherby, the Fighting Hawks will have three of the NCAA's top five returning goal-scorers from last season.
Calder, who is from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., has two years of eligibility remaining.
Calder has tallied more than 20 points in each of his three seasons with Lake Superior State (29 points in 29 games last season), but made his mark in 2020-21. He led the Lakers to the WCHA playoff title -- he had a hat trick in the championship game -- and their first NCAA tournament berth since 1996. Lake Superior State lost to eventual national champion UMass in the first round.
On Friday, Calder entered the transfer portal, looking for a new opportunity.
"I've been in (Sault Ste. Marie) for 20 of the 23 years of my life," Calder said. "I wanted to see what college was like away from home and get that experience. That was one of the main reasons I decided to go in the portal. And I'm super excited to see what the University of North Dakota is like."
Calder became one of the most coveted players in the transfer portal over the weekend as teams looked toward someone who could be a top-six winger.
"It's definitely been a different experience," Calder said. "It felt a little more like free agency than college recruiting, but it was definitely cool. I committed to Lake State when I was 16, so I didn't really go through that experience. I was happy with the school I picked right away. This time, it was a little more hectic, a lot more note-taking and kind of going with my gut on the final decision."
That final decision was UND.
Calder said his conversations with the coaching staff sold him.
"It felt like a good fit for me and for everyone involved," Calder said. "They made me feel like I was part of the family. It was a really good experience with them.
"I'm pretty excited. I've never played a game at North Dakota, but I've heard a lot of crazy good things. I'm excited to step on the ice and see what it's like."
There will be plenty of competition for ice time and special teams spots for the Fighting Hawks, who lost senior Jordan Kawaguchi (Dallas Stars), senior Collin Adams (New York Islanders), senior Grant Mismash (Nashville Predators) and sophomore Shane Pinto (Ottawa Senators) to NHL contracts.
At 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, Calder will add size to an already big, heavy team that will expect to lean on opponents next season.
He's a right-handed shot who has played mostly right wing, which will give the coaching staff more lineup options. The Fighting Hawks, who have won the last two Penrose Cups as NCHC regular-season champions, have almost twice as many left-handed shooting forwards. Calder balances it out.
Calder's best attribute is his shot. He scored 12 goals as a sophomore and 16 as a junior for Lake Superior State. In addition to his hat trick in the WCHA title game against Northern Michigan, Calder was the only player to score on UMass goalie Filip Lindberg in the NCAA tournament this season. Lindberg posted shutouts in his other two games, including the national championship.
Calder said he expects to finish his finance degree this year. He has the ability to play a fifth year at UND as well, and has noted the school's MBA program.
Transfers have become commonplace this offseason in college hockey after the NCAA ruled the 2020-21 season won't count against anyone's eligibility. The NCAA also is about to pass legislation that will allow for one transfer without having to sit out a season.
In addition to Calder, the Lakers also are losing second-leading scorer Pierre-Luc (Pete) Veillette and their top two defensemen, Lucas Kaelble (Clarkson) and Will Riedell (Ohio State) in the transfer portal.
Calder will be one of five transfers UND is adding to the roster. The others are Ford, defenseman Chris Jandric of Alaska (Fairbanks), defenseman Brady Ferner of RPI and goaltender Zach Driscoll of Bemidji State.
"I know it's a really respected program," Calder said of UND. "I know a few of the transfers, because I played in the same conference as them. I'm definitely excited to be joining those guys and all of the other really good players at North Dakota."
NCAA's top-returning goal-scorers
18 -- Colin Bilek, Army
16 -- Ashton Calder, transferring to UND from Lake Superior State
16 -- Connor Ford, transferring to UND from Bowling Green
15 -- Ethan Somoza, Bemidji State
14 -- Jasper Weatherby, UND
14 -- Ethan de Jong, Quinnipiac
14 -- Ty Smilanic, Quinnipiac
14 -- A.J. Vanderbeck, Northern Michigan
14 -- Johnny Evans, UConn