WCHA Top Shelf Moments from 2016-17
Moment #8: The Next Level
Seven players (from four WCHA schools) signed NHL Entry-Level contracts following the 2016-17 season.

Every weekday from June 12-27, we will be looking back at the "Top Shelf Moments" from the 2016-17 WCHA Men's League season. Up next on our countdown is…

Moment #8: The Next Level

From the first time he laces up his skates, it is the dream of many a young man to one day play hockey at the highest levels. With college hockey an important part of that journey, and the WCHA serving as a proven developmental ground, several players from the 2016-17 season are taking the next step toward making that dream a reality.

Since the college season ended, 29 players – representing all 10 WCHA programs – have signed professional contracts (as of June 16). This list features seven players that have signed National Hockey League (NHL) entry-level deals: Alaska Anchorage's Mason Mitchell (Washington Capitals); Bowling Green's Mark Friedman (Philadelphia Flyers) and Chris Nell (New York Rangers); Lake Superior State's Kris Bindulis (Washington) and Mitch Hults (Anaheim Ducks); and, MTU's Angus Redmond (Anaheim) and Matt Roy (Los Angeles Kings). Of those, five (Mitchell, Nell, Bindulis, Hults and Redmond) developed into free-agent signees after playing in the WCHA.

All those players are aiming to skate in the NHL, a league that featured 21 alumni from the 10 current WCHA institutions in 2016-17. That group includes four-time Stanley Cup winner Chris Kunitz from Ferris State, who again hoisted sports' most cherished trophy this spring with the Pittsburgh Penguins; two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Colton Parayko, an Alaska Fairbanks product who played in a total of 92 contests for a St. Louis Blues club that advanced to the Western Conference semifinals; former Alabama Huntsville goaltender Cam Talbot, who set the Edmonton Oilers' single-season record with 42 regular season wins (and added seven more in the playoffs); stalwart defenseman David Backes, a Minnesota State alumnus who had a solid first season in Boston; and, 2015 WCHA Player of the Year Tanner Kero from Michigan Tech, who tallied 16 points and a +15 rating in 47 games for the Chicago Blackhawks.

A full list of the 21 current WCHA member institution alumni to appear in the NHL during the 2016-17 season:

Name, Pos. NHL Team School (Years)
Cam Talbot, G Edmonton Oilers Alabama Huntsville (2007-10)
Jay Beagle, F Washington Capitals Alaska Anchorage (2005-07)
Chad Johnson, G Calgary Flames Alaska (2005-09)
Colton Parayko, D St. Louis Blues Alaska (2012-15)
Brad Hunt, D St. Louis Blues/Nashville Predators Bemidji State (2008-12)
Matt Read, F Philadelphia Flyers Bemidji State (2007-11)
Kevin Bieksa, D Anaheim Ducks Bowling Green (2000-04)
Ryan Carpenter, C San Jose Sharks Bowling Green (2011-14)
Andrew Hammond, G Ottawa Senators Bowling Green (2009-13)
Chris Kunitz, F Pittsburgh Penguins Ferris State (1999-2003)
Zach Redmond, D Montréal Canadiens Ferris State (2007-11)
Steve Oleksy, D Pittsburgh Penguins Lake Superior State (2007-09)
Buddy Robinson, RW Ottawa Senators Lake Superior State (2011-13)
Pheonix Copley, G St. Louis Blues Michigan Tech (2012-14)
Tanner Kero, C Chicago Blackhawks Michigan Tech (2011-15)
Jujhar Khaira, LW Edmonton Oilers Michigan Tech (2012-13)
Blake Pietila, LW New Jersey Devils Michigan Tech (2011-15)
David Backes, C Boston Bruins Minnesota State (2003-06)
Casey Nelson, D Buffalo Sabres Minnesota State (2013-16)
Tyler Pitlick, F Edmonton Oilers Minnesota State (2010)
Jared Coreau, G Detroit Red Wings Northern Michigan (2011-13)

The full list of 2016-17 WCHA players, representing all 10 member institutions, to sign professional contracts is below (as of June 16, 2017).

Name, Yr., Pos. Pro Team (League) WCHA School
Matt Salhany, Sr., F Reading Royals (ECHL) Alabama Huntsville
Dylan Hubbs, Sr., F Tulsa Oilers (ECHL) Alaska Anchorage
*Mason Mitchell, So., F Washington Capitals (NHL) Alaska Anchorage
Rasmus Reijola, Sr., G RoKi (Finland) Alaska Anchorage
Chase Van Allen, Sr., D Alaska Aces (ECHL) Alaska Anchorage
Davis Jones, Sr., G Alaska Aces (ECHL) Alaska
Brendan Harms, Sr., F Florida Everblades (ECHL) Bemidji State
Charlie O'Connor, Sr., F Toledo Walleye (ECHL) Bemidji State
Kevin Dufour, Sr., F South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) Bowling Green
1Mark Friedman, Jr., D Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) Bowling Green
*Chris Nell, Jr., G New York Rangers (NHL) Bowling Green
Matt Pohlkamp, Sr., F Toledo Walleye (ECHL) Bowling Green
Ryan Lowney, Sr., D Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL) Ferris State
Gerald Mayhew, Sr., F Iowa Wild (AHL) Ferris State
Jared Van Wormer, Sr., F Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) Ferris State
*Kris Bindulis, Fr., D Washington Capitals (NHL) Lake Superior State
*Mitch Hults, So., F Anaheim Ducks (NHL) Lake Superior State
Shane Hanna, Sr., D Texas Stars (AHL) Michigan Tech
Tyler Heinonen, Sr., F Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) Michigan Tech
Chris Leibinger, Sr., D Quad City Mallards (ECHL) Michigan Tech
*Angus Redmond, Fr., G Anaheim Ducks (NHL) Michigan Tech
2Matt Roy, Jr., D Los Angeles Kings (NHL) Michigan Tech
Reid Sturos, Sr., F Texas Stars (AHL) Michigan Tech
Sean Flanagan, Sr., D Reading Royals (ECHL) Minnesota State
Michael Huntebrinker, Sr., F Reading Royals (ECHL) Minnesota State
Brock Maschmeyer, Sr., D Fischtown (Germany) Northern Michigan
Sami Salminen, Sr., F Vasaan Sport (Finland) Northern Michigan
Dominik Shine, Sr., F Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) Northern Michigan
Shane Sooth, Sr., F Quad City Mallards (ECHL) Northern Michigan

* signed as free agent
1 Friedman was chosen by Philadelphia in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft
2 Roy was chosen by Los Angeles in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft

"Top Shelf Moments" from the 2016-17 WCHA Season

12: Everybody Loves a Winner
11: Hats Off
10: Celebrating the 50th in Style
9: 20 x 4