It was a good news-bad news kind of week for Wisconsin.
The good news: Ryan Suter, drafted with the seventh overall pick in last month’s NHL entry draft, chose to hold off on signing with the Nashville Predators and told Badgers coach Mike Eaves he’ll play at Wisconsin next season.
The bad news: Incoming freshman goaltender Mike Brodeur, who would have been forced to miss next season as a NCAA penalty for playing in a major junior exhibition game, decided to turn pro. That leaves the Badgers with only one goaltender with collegiate experience, junior-to-be Bernd Bruckler.
As for Suter, the 18-year-old Madison native told the Wisconsin State Journal his decision was between playing for the Badgers and signing with the Predators and playing with Milwaukee of the AHL. Being the first defenseman chosen in the draft opened his eyes.
“It made me think, I guess,” Suter told the newspaper. “I always thought, just go to Wisconsin and see what happens from there. Now you know there’s more than college hockey. I got to learn about some of the money that can be made.”
A rookie contract would have paid him $1.24 million annually if he played for the Predators.
Suter, whose father Bob played for the Badgers and on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, had eight goals and 27 points in 47 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program last season. A 6-foot-1, 183-pound left-handed shooter, Suter was one of the keys in a Wisconsin recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Red Line Report.
That status has taken a hit with Brodeur’s decision not to attend UW. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound goaltender was expected to challenge Bruckler for time, but now, less than three months from the start of the season, the Badgers are searching for a replacement.
Luke Kohtala, a walk-on, is the only other goaltender on Wisconsin’s roster.
“We wish Michael all the best,” Eaves said in a school release. “He is a young man with a bright future and we hope he has a long and successful playing career. We must now move on and are already out on the recruiting trail looking for a goaltender.”
Brodeur’s NCAA penalty arose after it was learned he played 20 minutes of a major junior exhibition game. The standard penalty is one year and one game, meaning Brodeur wouldn’t have been eligible to play until the second game of the 2004-05 season.
He was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the June draft and attended a minicamp earlier this month.