The first of hopefully few pro signings have hit the Bulldogs. On Sunday after it was official that UMD’s season was over, Rob Bordson signed a contract with the Anaheim Ducks. Bordson forgoes his senior season by signing.
You can’t really blame him. After the breakout season Bordson had, now very well could be the time to cash in. Going from no points in 15 games as a sophomore, he scored 12 goals and added 28 assists for 40 points. Quite the breakout season.
Where does that leave the program? The UMD program that Bordson grew up watching as he is a native of Duluth. Said Bordson, "It was definitely very difficult. I love everyone at UMD. They were very professional about it, very supportive. They were very helpful. It was tough leaving them. Everyone wants to be a professional hockey player. I think it was the time to do it." His production and the promise of being a top line producer next year is a hit to the team.
In the Final Five teleconference, Denver University coach George Gwozdecky was asked what it takes to make a successful WCHA team. The question was posed by a writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, one of two newspapers that cover the Gophers. It is a really good question for two reasons, Denver has been very successful over the years and the Gophers are in a current run of down years.
Gwozdecky answered that a team needs, “…good players and great goaltending.” Simple enough answer, but let’s speculate and read between the lines. His use of good in front of players and reserving great for goaltending should make one pause.
In today’s world of hockey, the great position players are being signed early every year to play in the pro ranks. I believe that Gwozdecky is saying to get the best players with a thought on whether or not they are going to leave early. Early departures can really pull at the seams of a good program. Evidence the Gophers and their current 20 drafted players out of their 26 rostered players.
Great goaltending is the cornerstone to any run to a championship in today’s college hockey. It is perennially the team with “the hot goalie” who makes it all the way to the trophy. Threfore, great is reserved for your goaltending position. Additionally, good coaches can build a whole program around the play of a great goaltender, but a great team won't go far in the playoffs without great goal play.
UMD has prepared of the future in recruiting many good players. Fontaine, the Connolly’s, and Oleksuk are all in the category of good players who will likely stay four years and bring success to the Bulldogs. Those players named, along with Bordson, are undrafted players who may be undersized for the NHL. That is likely a blessing to UMD as they will likely stay for four years. Bordson was expected to be one of those before his surprise departure.
One last thought on early departures and draftees. WCHA Scoring Champion Rhett Rhakhshani, drafted by the New York Islanders, stayed with the program for all four years. His leadership and playmaking ability has made Denver an elite team that is poised for a possible championship run. Not totally knowing the circumstances, I will say that he probably had offers to sign. If that is the case, I commend him for staying to better the Pioneer’s program. If he was not offered to sign, the Islanders are going to be getting a very skilled player now that he is done at Denver.