Wisconsin has 18 former players currently suiting up for NHL teams, tied with Boston College for the second-most represented university and behind only Michigan (20). Two former Badgers, Joe Pavelski and Ryan McDonagh, will be playing in their first NHL All-Star Game and Skill Competition Jan. 30-31 while Michael Mersch has played just a handful of games since being called up earlier this season. The list of 18 includes six first-round draft picks, five Wisconsin natives, four olympians, and a collective 193 points and 355 saves this season. Undeniably, the Badgers’ impact is felt.
Pavelski is in his first season captaining the San Jose Sharks, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2003. The Plover, Wisconsin, native leads the NHL in game-winning goals with seven, ranks sixth in the league with 20 goals, and ninthin total points with 38. Recently named the Sharks’ December Player of the Month, the forward leads San Jose in game-winners, goals and points as well. The 2014-15 Sharks Player of the Year, Pavelski ended last season second overall in the NHL with 19 power-play goals. Pavelski was a part of both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics with Team USA.
McDonagh was drafted 12th overall by Montreal, but has played his entire six-year NHL career with the Rangers, serving as the team’s captain for the second year. The only Ranger to be included in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, McDonagh has tallied five goals and 12 assists so far this season, tied for the lead in goals among Rangers defensemen. He also leads the current team in +/- (+96) and is second in assists with 114 for his career. During the 2014-15 Stanley Cup Playoffs McDonagh scored three goals, two of which were game-winners, and six assists in the team’s playoff run. McDonagh was named to his first Olympic roster for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Mersch, the most recent former Badger to make an NHL debut when he was called up to the LA Kings in early December, tallied his first NHL goal on Dec. 29 during the Kings’ 5-2 win over Edmonton. Last season, Mersch posted 22 goals and 23 assists with Manchester (AHL) to help the team capture the Calder Cup, and was one of two players on the team to play in all 76 regular-season games.
Derek Stepan plays in New York, serving as alternate captain for his second season, posting eight goals and seven assists so far in 2015-16. His 170 assists and 265 points since joining the team lead all Rangers, while his nine short-handed goals since 2012-13 leads the NHL. Stepan tallied 12 post-season points during the 2014-15 playoffs, including a game-winner in Game 7 against Washington. A second-round Rangers’ draft pick, Stepan made his presence known from the start, scoring a hat trick in his NHL debut in 2010.
Kyle Turris serves as an alternate captain for the Ottawa Senators. Drafted 3rd overall, Ottawa’s starting center established career highs in assists (40) and points (64) last season, while playing in all 82 games, marking the third-consecutive season Turris has not missed a game. He tallied 6 game-winning goals last year, along with two post-season points. This season, Turris has racked up 13 goals and 16 assists in 41 games.
Ryan Suter, in his 11th year of NHL play, has tallied five goals and 22 assists for the Minnesota Wild this season. Tied for the team lead in both assists and plus/minus rating (+9), Suter is secpmd in the NHL for time-on-ice, averaging 28:16 minutes each game. The Madison native was a part of Team USA for the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, serving as an alternate captain in 2010 and collecting four assists. He was named to the 2013 NHL First All-Star Team, and received the THN Bobby Orr Award for the Best Defenseman in the same year.
Jack Skille, probably most well known for his triple-overtime goal to lift the Badgers over Cornell during their 2006 National Championship run, is in his first season with the Colorado Avalanche, tabbing six goals and four assists so far. Picked seventh overall in the first round by Chicago, the Madison native played six games for the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, notching a goal and an assist.
Craig Smith has played for Nashville since 2011, tallying 164 career points since. The Madison native was one of four Predators to play in all 82 games last season, while notching five points (including a game-winning goal against Chicago) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season, Smith has scored nine goals and five assists.
Brendan Smith was drafted in the first round by Detroit and has played with the Red Wings since the 2011-12 season. A 2010 Hobey Baker finalist, Smith tabbed his 50th NHL point on Nov. 21, 2015, bringing his 2015-16 season total to 10 points on three goals and seven assists.
Justin Schultz, in his fourth season defending for Edmonton, has tallied a goal and three assists in 27 games this season. He scored 27 points during his first professional season and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 2012-13. Last season he led the team in on-ice time, averaging 22:36 minutes per contest.
Jake Gardiner was a first-round draft pick in 2008, playing for Wisconsin for two years before making his way to Toronto, where he made the NHL All-Rookie Team during his 2011-12 debut season. The Minnetonka, Minn. native has 13 points on three goals and 10 assists this season.
Brian Elliott has been playing goaltender for the St. Louis Blues since 2011, where Elliott became the second Blues player to win the Jennings Trophy in his rookie season. He also collected the franchise career shutout record when he notched his 21st shutout against Columbus last season. A 2005-06 Hobey Baker finalist, he has played in 15 games this season, with a .915 save percentage.
Rene Borque racked up 97 points during his four years at Wisconsin before signing as a free agent with Chicago in 2004. In the years since, he’s accumulated 294 career points with various NHL teams, most recently the Columbus Blue Jackets. So far this season, the left-handed winger has tallied two goals and two assists.
Jake McCabe, a Buffalo Sabres second-round pick, tallied his first NHL goal Oct. 15 at Florida. The Eau Claire native has scored three goals and added four assists so far this season.
Jamie McBain is in his second season with the LA Kings, scoring two goals and four assists. He appeared in his 300th career NHL game on Feb. 24, 2015.
Tom Gilbert is in his second season with Montreal, tallying a single assist. Last year, Gilbert scored five points in the Canadians’ 12-game playoff run.
Cody Goulebef was drafted in the 2nd round by Columbus, whom he has played for since 2011. He has notched a goal and five assists this season, recovering from a jaw fracture for most of the last month.
Ben Street signed with Colorado during the 2014-15 season, playing three games with the Avalanche before finishing the season with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL, where he tabbed 39 points in 44 games. He has suited up for the Avalanche in seven games this season, but is currently on injured reserve due to a chest injury.
Published on UWBadgers.com
Edited by Paul Capobianco