A number of former UMD players signed new pro contracts over the weekend, as NHL free agency opened on Sunday.
One -- defenseman Jason Garrison (2005-2008) -- really cashed in on the league's annual spending spree. Garrison inked a six-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks, one that will pay him $27.6 million.
Garrison spoke with me Monday from Chicago about his new beginning.
He joins another former UMD star, Mason Raymond, on the Vancouver roster. Raymond struggled last season after suffering a serious back injury during Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, but is expected back on a one-year deal at this point.
Elsewhere, another Garrison teammate at UMD, Matt Niskanen, signed for two more years in Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old Niskanen will make $4.6 million over two seasons, a bargain if he keeps improving like he did in his year-and-a-half in Pittsburgh.
Niskanen's confidence looked shot at times in Dallas. His trade to Pittsburgh appeared to come at a perfect time, as it put him in a different system where he could flourish. The Penguins' style, which is more about puck-moving and skating, seems a much better fit for the former Virginia/MIB Blue Devil.
Another defenseman -- Evan Oberg -- signed a one-year, two-way deal with Tampa Bay. Oberg played three games in the NHL last season, but was a regular for a Norfolk Admirals team that won the Calder Cup title and finished the year winning 45 of its last 48 games.
Forward Tim Stapleton, one of the top scorers in UMD history, is a free agent as of Sunday. He spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets after making the move with the franchise from Atlanta.