The Minnesota Golden Gophers’ 2006-07 prospects sustained another blow Wednesday with the departure of junior forward Danny Irmen, who renounced his final year of college eligibility to move into the professional ranks.
Irmen, a native of Fargo, N.D., signed a contract with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, team president and general manager Doug Risebrough announced.
The deal begins with the 2006-07 season, but Irmen is expected to play the remainder of this season with the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Houston.
“Danny cannot play with us this year,” said Wild assistant GM Tom Lynn on the Wild’s official website. “It’s a multi-year deal, so he’ll spend a couple years developing. Could he play right away? It’s possible. Could he start next year in Houston and get called up? It’s just as possible. Whatever is best for his development as a Wild player is where he’ll be next year.”
Irmen, a third-round pick by the Wild in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, scored 38 points on 16 goals and 22 assists for Minnesota this season while playing only 30 games, missing 11 due to injury. In 2004-05, he attained his career highs of 24 goals and 43 points, racking up 13 power-play goals.
For his Minnesota career, Irmen totaled 54-49–103 in 118 games. He is the second Gopher player to leave school early for the NHL in recent days, following classmate Ryan Potulny, who signed a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers last week.