Helminen to Leave Michigan

The New York Rangers didn’t get Michigan goalie Al Montoya to leave school early, but they did get one of his teammates.

According to the Ann Arbor (Mich.) News, senior forward Dwight Helminen will be leaving Michigan to sign a deal with the NHL team. The Rangers acquired the rights of the former 8th Round pick (2002) last March from Edmonton.

“Pro hockey is something that’s always been a dream of mine,” Helminen told the News. “The Rangers came to me with an offer, and I decided to take the opportunity.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the NHL, and I think this is the best way of doing that.”

Helminen expects to play next season in the AHL, with or without an NHL labor stoppage.

“Every year, it seems, some guys get an opportunity to go,” said Helminen to the paper. “I never thought I’d get an opportunity like this.”

The Rangers’ prospect camp starts in Calgary this weekend.

With plenty of depth up front, the loss of Helminen certainly will not impact the Wolverines the same as the loss of Montoya would have. Nevertheless, it is a blow to a team with national championship hopes in 2005.

Last season, Helminen had 17 goals and 28 points and was named the CCHA’s Best Defensive Forward. In 120 college games at Michigan, Helminen scored 44 goals and 79 assists. He was also a member of the 2003 U.S. Junior National team that participate in the World Junior Championships.