St. Cloud defenseman Duvie Westcott, who just completed his junior season, is on the verge of signing with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, according to St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl.
Dahl, who is still awaiting word on the future of star forward Tyler Arnason, said the Westcott move caught him by surprise.
“I was planning on replacing Arnason, I wasn’t counting on replacing Duvie,” said Dahl.
Westcott was sixth on the team in scoring, and first among defensemen, with 33 points (10-23–33) in 37 games.
“He’s one of the best defensemen in the league,” said Dahl.
Among its top 10 scorers, St. Cloud, which won the WCHA tournament championship in 2000-01, was expected to lose only seniors Brandon Sampair and Keith Anderson, and perhaps Arnason.
North Dakota recently lost defenseman Travis Roche and forward Bryan Lundbohm to early depatures.
Dahl said these underclassmen departures help raise the profile of college hockey, but doesn’t help the individual team.
“It hurts the team that did a really good job in recruiting. But that’s the way things are going in college hockey,” said Dahl. “It’s good for the whole, not for the individual team.”
Meanwhile, Arnason, another junior, has been mulling his options since the season has ended. He is a draft choice of the Chicago Blackhawks, who had been without a head coach since late in the NHL regular season. Just today, Chicago announced the hiring of Brian Sutter as the new coach, and the Arnason family may have been waiting for things to settle before making a decision.
“I think his father is just waiting on Chicago, to see how things go there,” said Dahl.
The loss of Arnason would be huge. He led the Huskies with 56 points this season, and had an outstanding postseason.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” lamented Dahl.