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Minnesota Hockey: Faber, Knies, LaCombe sign NHL Contracts

All potentially will see NHL action this week

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The Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey season came to a crushing end on Saturday night, but for at least a trio of Gophers, their 2022-23 hockey season is not yet over. Sunday saw a pair of Gophers with eligibility remaining forgo the chance to return to Minnesota and instead sign professional contracts. Junior defenseman Brock Faber signed with the Minnesota Wild, and sophomore Mathew Knies signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gophers senior defenseman Jackson LaCombe was the first Gopher who had used up his eligibility to sign his NHL deal as he signed with the Anaheaim Ducks. All three Gophers could potentially see NHL action this week with their teams.

Faber was the first Gopher to sign Sunday morning. he returned from Tampa with the Gophers and immediately signed his professional contract so he could jump on the Wild’s flight to Chicago Sunday afternoon. According to The Athletic, He signed a three year entry-level deal worth $2.775 million ($925,000 a year in the NHL). Faber gets three $92,500 signing bonuses, and according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations, he can receive up to $250,000 in performance bonuses each year. That means, in 2023-24 or 2024-25, if he achieves one of 10 goals, 25 assists, 40 points, top four in ice time among Wild defensemen (minimum 42 games), top three in plus-minus among defensemen (minimum 42 games), 0.49 points per game (minimum 42 games), top-2 among defensemen in blocked shots, All-Rookie Team, All-Star selection or All-Star MVP, he’d get $250,000. Faber will burn the first year of his contract this season and in fact will make his NHL debut Monday night when the Wild play the Chicago Blackhawks live on ESPN at 8 PM. Faber will wear #7 for the Wild.

Faber will be paired up with fellow Ex- Gopher Alex Goligoski tonight. He is eligible to play in the playoffs if the Wild decide he is worth a spot in the lineup.

The second Gopher to sign on Sunday afternoon with sophomore forward Mathew Knies. He returned home with the Gophers, but then immediately jumped back on a flight to Florida to join the Maple Leafs squad that plays at the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lighting the next two nights.

Knies signed the same three-year entry level contract that Faber did with the same terms three-years, $2.775 million ($925,000 a year in the NHL). He will burn the first year of the contract this season. He is expected to make his NHL debut in one of the Leafs final three regular season games before potentially playing a role on Toronto’s playoff roster as well. Knies will wear #23 for Toronto.

Late Sunday came the news, and was confirmed by the club on Monday morning that Gopher senior defenseman Jackson LaCombe signed with the Anaheim Ducks.

LaCombe signed a two-year entry-level contract worth $1,850,000, of which he will burn the first year this season. His salary is similarly comprised of $92,500 in signing bonuses and $832,500 in base salary like Faber and Knies. LaCombe will wear #60 for the Ducks and will make his NHL debut Tuesday night at home against the Vancouver Canucks.

That trio may be the only three Gophers expected to see NHL action this week. At least one more Gopher will sign a pro contract later this spring with a few more possibilities. Defenseman Ryan Johnson’s rights are held by the Buffalo Sabres and he has until July to determine if he will sign with them or become a free agent. Freshman Logan Cooley said after Saturday night’s loss that he was still 50-50 on whether or not he would be signing his contract with the Arizona Coyotes or return for his sophomore season with the Gophers. Junior forward Aaron Hugelin is in a similar place as Johnson just a year behind. The Sabres hold his rights and if he des not sign with them by the Summer of 2024 he can become a free agent as well, so the Sabres may pressure him to sign a deal this summer.

Good luck to Brock, Mathew and Jackson as they make their NHL debuts this week!