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Badgers in the NHL: former UW players find new professional homes

Brian Elliott, Jake McCabe and Ryan Suter have signed free agent deals this week.

St. Louis Blues v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

With the NHL Draft behind us, free agency is now open and players who don’t have a team are now able to find a new one. The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team has a number of notable alumni in the pros and on Wednesday a trio of them found new teams to skate for next season.

  • Former Minnesota Wild alternate captain Ryan Suter is heading south and joining Joe Pavelski on the Dallas Stars. The deal is for $14.6M over four years, carrying an average annual value (AAV) of $3.65M.

The Wild bought out Suter’s contract to free up some salary cap space and the 36-year old will now try and win a Stanley Cup with the Stars. While he is up there in years, Suter is still a valuable top-four defenseman and can play on the Dallas power play as well.

Per the Stars press release, Suter recorded 19 points (3-16=19) in 56 regular-season games played for Minnesota in 2020-21 averaging 22:11 of ice time per game. He finished with a +9 plus/minus rating, 12 penalty minutes and 86 shots on net. In seven postseason contests, he registered one assist and nine shots on net.

The Madison native has played for the Wild since 2012 and, quite frankly, it’ll be a little weird to see him in a different sweater this season.

Like Suter, Elliott is joining a team that already has a former Badger on it (defenseman Ryan McDonagh) and has Stanley Cup aspirations. The Lightning signed him to a one-year contract worth $900k, which is fine for a backup goalie.

Over his past two seasons in Philly, Elliott struggled and didn’t put up very good numbers but he also didn’t play for a very good team so who can say who is to blame. If he can rediscover some of the talent that he displayed three years ago, the Lightning will be getting quite a bargain.

  • Lastly, former Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe is heading to Chicago to join the Blackhawks blue line for next season. He signed a four-year, $16 million deal ($4 million AAV) and will be looking to bounce back from a knee injury that ended his season last year after only 13 games.

The native of Eau Claire isn’t counted on much in the offensive zone, but he is a shut-down defenseman in his own zone and, when he is fully healthy, should take a spot as one of Chicago’s top-four defensemen. In 353 career games he has scored 18 goals and 59 assists and averaged 19:15 of ice time per game.