Two more juniors leave North Dakota as LaDue, Johnson sign NHL contracts

Paul LaDue will not be back for his senior season at North Dakota (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

North Dakota lost two more juniors Friday as defenseman Paul LaDue signed with the Los Angeles Kings and forward Luke Johnson did the same with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both will forgo their final years of eligibility.

Los Angeles drafted LaDue in the sixth round (191st overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and Chicago selected Johnson in the fifth round (134th overall) in 2013.

LaDue earned All-NCHC honorable mention accolades in 2015-16 and finished his junior campaign with five goals and 14 assists in 41 games and tied for fourth in the NCHC with a career-high plus-31 rating.

In 123 career games at North Dakota, LaDue collected 16 goals and 46 assists with a plus-53 rating. He was named to the All-NCHC Rookie Team and was UND’s Male Freshman of the Year (all sports) in 2013-14.

Luke Johnson has signed an entry-level deal with the Chicago Blackhawks (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

Johnson scored 11 goals and added 10 assists for 21 points in 2015-16 and tied for the team lead with five power-play goals and led the squad in faceoff percentage (54.9), faceoff wins (394) and faceoff attempts (718).

Over 127 career games at North Dakota, Johnson tallied 30 goals and 36 assists with a plus-19 rating. Thirteen of his 30 career goals came on the power play, the most among active UND skaters in 2015-16.

UND defensemen Troy Stecher (Vancouver) and Keaton Thompson (Anaheim) also left school early and signed NHL contracts earlier this offseason after helping lead the Fighting Hawks to the national championship on April 9.


  1. Best wishes to all those leaving early. It’s a tough decision since it gives you one more year, in theory, to make money that you will never see playing college hockey. The downside is you get injured playing above your level and your pro career is cut short.

    As for the Sioux, I somehow think they will be just fine.


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