Golden Gopher defenseman Alex Goligoski has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and has signed a professional contract with the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins. Published reports said that Goligoski has signed a two-year deal, paying $500,000 this season and $600,000 in 2008-09.
“Although we will miss him, we are extremely happy for Alex,” coach Don Lucia said. “I know it is a dream come true for him to have an opportunity to play in the NHL. He’s been a great hockey player during his three years here, but is an even better person off the ice. Alex will be a great representative of the University of Minnesota and we thank him for his contributions to this program.”
Goligoski will attend the Penguins training camp, but is expected to play for the team’s Wilkes Barre/Scranton AHL affiliate for at least part of the season.
“What we will be getting is a young defenseman not big in stature, but he can really skate and really pass the puck,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero told a Pittsburgh radio station today. “Hopefully he will play in the NHL at some point.”
A 6-0, 187-pound defenseman, Goligoski was a 2006-07 All-American, the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and an All-WCHA First Team selection after finishing the season with nine goals and 30 assists for 39 points in 44 games. Goligoski earned his first career All-America honor and became the 36th player in Golden Gopher hockey history to be named a First Team All-American. He followed Ryan Potulny in 2005-06 and became the first Minnesota defenseman to earn first-team honors since Keith Ballard in 2003-04.
Goligoski became Minnesota’s first WCHA Defensive Player of the Year since Jordan Leopold won the award in 2000-01 and 2001-02. Goligoski also earned All-WCHA First Team honors a season after being named to the All-WCHA Second Team and two years removed from his appearance on the WCHA All-Rookie Team. An assistant captain, Goligoski compiled totals of 9-30–39 to rank tied for first in the WCHA in defenseman points and points per game (0.89). His 39 points ranked second in the nation among blueliners. Goligoski owned a team fourth-best nine multi-point games and ranked tied for first on the team with a plus/minus rating of +24. He had a point in 26 of 44 games and had four three-point games on the year.
With career totals of 25-73–98 in 118 games, Goligoski finished his Minnesota career in 14th place on UM’s all-time list for points by a defenseman, 11th in goals by a defenseman and 16th in assists by a defenseman.
Goligoski was drafted 61st overall in the second round by the Penguins in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He is the second Minnesota defenseman this offseason to give up remaining eligibility to play professional hockey, following Erik Johnson signing with the St. Louis Blues on April 19.