Chucko Latest Gopher To Leave Early

The annual exodus of underclassmen to the professional ranks continued to hit Minnesota hard over the weekend, as sophomore Kris Chucko became the latest Golden Gopher to hang up his college jersey for an NHL contract.

Chucko, a first-round draft pick (24th overall) by Calgary in 2004, signed a contract with the NHL’s Flames and will play next season for Omaha of the AHL.

The native of Burnaby, B.C., scored only four goals with nine assists in 2005-06 after a freshman year in which the highly-touted recruit posted 10-11–21.

But the 6-2, 190-pounder was saddled with multiple injuries last season, and hopes were high in the Twin Cities that he would play a major role with the team in 2006-07.

Chucko’s contract was for three years and $900,000, according to multiple media reports.

“The money is great, but the decision was made by me and my family even before the offer was made,” Chucko told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “The greatest thing about the money is that it shows the commitment Calgary is making.”

He is the third Golden Gopher to leave the team in recent weeks, following Hobey Baker finalist Ryan Potulny and Danny Irmen. Minnesota will have no more than three seniors on next season’s roster — goaltender Kellen Briggs, defenseman Mike Vannelli and — if he returns from redshirting 2005-06 — forward Tyler Hirsch.

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