In the first early departure casualty for the Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s hockey team, junior goalie Mat Robson signed on Monday with the Minnesota Wild. Robson ends his Gopher career after 1.5 seasons in the maroon and gold. He will immediately report to the Wild and will remain on the NHL roster for the rest of the 2018-19 season and will wear #42,
It was fairly expected that Robson would leave the Gophers for a professional contract after this season. He was ranked the #7 overall college hockey/international free agent and the #1 goaltender by The Athletic’s Cory Pronman a week ago. His season ended along with the Gophers on a 2-1 overtime loss to Notre Dame in the Big Ten Semifinal last Saturday.
Robson has had the attention of scouts all season long and according to Micheal Russo of the Athletic who broke the news he had several teams wanting to sign him after Saturday’s loss.
Hearing the #mnwild have signed University of Minnesota free-agent goaltender Mat Robson. They’ll burn a year of 2-year contract, so he’ll join NHL club, don’t believe he’s playoff eligible. Robson had lots of opportunities— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) March 18, 2019
According to Russo the Wild signed him to a two-year contract and they will immediately burn one year of the deal by assigning him to the NHL club for the rest of the 2018-19 season. He most likely will not see any meaningful action until the Wild have either officially clinched a playoff spot or have been eliminated from the playoffs but will gain practice experience before most likely starting the season at AHL Iowa next fall. If the Wild do in fact earn a playoff berth Robson will not be eligible to play for them in the postseason.
Robson has been the reliable netminder for the Gophers for the last season and a half. He became eligible in December of 2017 and went 7-5-1 in fourteen games with a save percentage of .933. That would have set a Minnesota program record had he played in one more game.
In 2018-19 Robson initially alternated to begin the season with Eric Schierhorn but took over the sole starting job early in the Big Ten season. He is one of three finalists for the Big Ten Goalie of the Year after going 14-12-4 with a 2.78 goals against average. His career save percentage of .924 sets a new program record for the Gophers. He also ranks seventh all-time in Minnesota history with a career GAA of 2.57.
Robson’s departure means Minnesota will have all brand new goaltenders in 2019-2020. Schierhorn and third goalie Brock Kautz were both seniors and will graduate. Minnesota is expected to bring in freshman Jared Moe from New Prague who played three seasons for Holy Family High School before spending the last two seasons with Waterloo in the USHL. Additionally earlier this season it was announced that Minnesota will bring in Jack LaFontaine as well. LaFontaine played in 22 games from 2016-2018 for the Michigan Wolverines before leaving the program. He played this past season with the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League. He won the league’s goalie of the year award after posting a 2.19 GAA and a .923 save percentage in 45 games. It is expected he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Gophers fans hope Robson is the only early departure this off-season. The other most logical candidate would be junior Rem Pitlick who is currently fourth in the nation in scoring. The Nashville Predators own his rights, but unlike the Wild they would not be expected to kill a year of Pitlick’s introductory contract. if he signed he would most likely head to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.
Good luck to Robson with the Wild and hopefully Minnesota hockey fans will be able to see him play a lot more in the near future.