The Duluth News Tribune is reporting the Blackhawks have signed their 2009 1st round draft choice (28th overall) defenseman Dylan Olsen to a three-year entry level contract.
Olsen is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, currently one of the top five teams in Division-I college hockey. Once a collegiate player signs a professional contract, he or she becomes ineligible to play collegiate athletics.
For Olsen, 19, the decision to leave his Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs teammates mid-season was academic related. He turns 20 this coming Monday.
Kevin Pates of the Duluth paper is reporting Olsen will report to the Rockford IceHogs, presumably once the World Junior U20 championships conclude in Buffalo next week.
Olsen has been paired on the first defense unit with Team Canada captain and Nashville Predators’ prospect Ryan Ellis in the tournament.
Its being reported that Olsen’s contract calls for an NHL salary of $525,000 in his first year, $700,000 in the second and $810,000 in the third. Olsen will earn the standard $67,500 while in the minors. Each year has a signing bonus of $90,000 tacked on to it.
UMD head coach Scott Sandelin expressed his disappointment, but also gave clarity to the situation in an interview with Pates:
“Dylan was having a good year and we were expecting a better, more confident player to return to us after the experience of the junior tournament,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We knew how much making Canada’s team meant to him and that it could only help his play. We’re just disappointed he chose to make a change at midseason.”
Sandelin did note that recent academic developments would likely have left Olsen ineligible for the second semester.
Olsen is the second Blackhawks draft pick in the last two years to leave school early due to poor academics.
In January of 2009, University of New Hampshire defenseman and team captain Joe Charlebois was forced off his team in the middle of his senior season when he was ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. Charlebois subsequently signed his first pro contract with the Blackhawks and reported to the Rockford IceHogs. Charlebois has since left the Blackhawks organization.
Olsen also becomes the third Chicago prospect this year to leave his college team early, joining Brandon Pirri (R.P.I.) and Nick Leddy (Minnesota) who both left school after their freshman seasons.
Olsen’s arrival clouds and already cluttered IceHogs’ blue line. Assuming Nick Leddy returns to Rockford at the completion of the World Junior tournament, he’ll join Olsen, Brian Connelly, Garnet Exelby, Ryan Stanton, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Simon Danis-Pepin, Shawn Lalonde and Wade Brookbank (who splits time on the wing). Not to mention the possibility of Jassen Cullimore returning at some point.
The Olsen signing does raise one issue roster-wise. The Blackhawks are now at the maximum 50-man organizational roster limit. Which means any acquisition the team makes must involve a player moving off the current chart of 50.