The Winnipeg Jets chose Dylan Samberg during the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Round 2 (43rd overall). Although Samberg hasn’t yet played an NHL game, he’s had three strong NCAA seasons with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. This season, however, he missed time with an injury and was only able to skate in 28 games. However, during those 28 games, he scored a goal and had 20 assists. In addition, he had a rating of plus-minus rating of +-17.
If you’re uncertain about the quality of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs as a hockey program, note that the team was going for a third straight NCAA hockey championships this season. They had won the last two in both 2018 and 2019. They have been coached by Scott Sandelin for almost 20 seasons and are a perennial NCAA powerhouse.
The UMD Bulldogs also have a large number of NHL players among their alumni. These include Brett Hull who played for 19 seasons with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars, the Detroit Red Wings, and finally the Arizona Coyotes. Justin Faulk, who’s played nine NHL seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes and now with the Blues, also went to university in Duluth. And, finally, goalie Alex Stalock who has played for the San Jose Sharks and now the Minnesota Wild also played with the Bulldogs.
In fact, a look at the Official Site of the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs shows a great number of current and former NHL players have suited up with the team. It seems as if Samberg will be the next.
Related: Winnipeg Jets News & Rumors: Hellebuyck, Scheifele, Letestu & Wheeler’s Tweet
Rumors About Samberg’s Not Signing
There’s been a rumor that the young defenseman would opt to not sign with the Jets and become a free agent; however, those rumors remain simply that – rumors. During a recent interview with the Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck, Samberg seemed to put those rumors to rest when he noted about the Jets:
“They took a chance on me, they wanted me for a reason and I respect that. I respect the organization, they have a lot of great people, and it’s not that far from home, which is nice. I want to eventually get to the Jets,” (From Scott Billeck’s ‘Jets prospect Samberg chasing history first, Jets dream next,’ Winnipeg Sun, 02/21/2020).
Samberg’s Skill Set as a Defenseman
As a university player with the Bulldogs, Samberg has been a central part of the UMD power play. Certainly, the team’s been better with him on the ice. During the 2018-19 season when he played 39 games, there were only six games in which he finished with a negative plus-minus rating. During his freshman season, he proved to be a shot-blocker. He blocked a team-leading 76 shots, and his 1.81 blocks-per-game average was bettered by only three other rookie defensemen in the United States.
Although, as noted, Samberg missed playing time with an injury this season, he still set a new career-high with 21 points. During the 2018-19 season, he had scored seven goals and 19 points in 39 NCAA games.
Related: Winnipeg Jets News & Rumors: Bitetto, Shore, Bourque, Shaw, Wheeler, Connor, Laine & Hellebuyck
What Do the Jets Have to Say About Samberg?
Last week, Winnipeg’s Director of Player Development, Jimmy Roy, broke down the 2019-20 season for a number of Jets prospects in the team’s prospect pool. Here’s what he had to say about Samberg.
“Dylan had really looked forward to returning to college this season to try to do something that would have been a tremendous feat, try to three-peat a National Championship. Unfortunately, that quest was derailed when his season was canceled,” Roy noted.
Roy also added that “While Dylan had to endure several injuries throughout the season that tested his ability to bounce back and get back up to speed. His final weekend saw him peaking at the right time while collecting a career-high four assists in one game.”
The Jets believe he’ll become a solid two-way defenseman. He’s maturing both physically and mentally and has gained traits playing at the NCAA-level that will become solid parts of his game. He has the skills, attitudes, and intelligence good defensemen need to be ready to play in the NHL.
It looks as if Samberg will have a great opportunity to make the Jets roster next season as a young defenseman. If you’re a Winnipeg Jets fan, there’s good reason to be excited about this young prospect.
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