First it was Ryan Potulny, then Danny Irmen. Now it’s Kris Chucko who will depart Minnesota’s men’s hockey team early.
Chucko said he signed a three year, $900,000 contract with the Calgary Flames. He also said he will stay and finish the semester at Minnesota before going to Calgary in September to try out for the Flames. Calgary selected Chucko in the first round (pick No. 24) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
If he doesn’t crack the roster, he will play for the Flames’ AHL Omaha Knights, next season.
“After the season it was, we were approached and (it was) something we had to think about and what I had to do for myself,” Chucko said Sunday. “I just felt that it was the right decision to make the jump.”
Chucko told coach Don Lucia Wednesday morning. Lucia was unavailable to comment Sunday.
The decision comes after a disappointing sophomore season for the forward in which he missed eight games because of injuries (shoulder and ankle) and registered just four goals and nine assists.
Hopes were high for Chucko going into the season after he totaled 10 goals and 11 assists (21 points) in his freshman year.
“I think everyone’s a little disappointed with how my year went this year,” Chucko said,
“It was a tough season for me because I’ve never really had to deal with that kind of adversity.”
That being said, Chucko did say he thought his overall game had improved during his two years as a Gopher, especially his skating.
Sophomore forward Evan Kaufmann said Chucko’s presence will be missed.
“He was one of our big and physical players on the ice,” Kaufmann said. “And when he was out there he was banging bodies and really letting people know that he was out there.”
Chucko said he hopes to make his presence felt in Calgary.
“I’m never going to count myself out (of making the Flames’ roster),” Chucko said. “I’m going to camp to make the big club. That’s the goal. So I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m expecting to go to Omaha because I’ve got seven months to work my hardest.”