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UND MEN'S HOCKEY: Dillon Simpson inks three-year deal with Edmonton Oilers

Dillon Simpson

As a freshman, Dillon Simpson was in-and-out of the UND men’s hockey lineup. By the time his college career was done, he was one of the best defensemen in the country, ready to sign an NHL contract.

Simpson, UND’s captain, did just that Tuesday, inking a three-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers.

“It’s exciting,” Simpson said. “It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s every player’s dream to sign an NHL contract, so it’s a great feeling to finally get that done.

“I want to be able to get adjusted to pro hockey life as quickly as I can. I’ll probably be somewhere within their system, getting comfortable, continuing to develop my game and building confidence.”

That was Simpson’s pattern at UND, where he was in-and-out of the lineup on a stacked team as a rookie. After his freshman season ended, Simpson didn’t miss a game, playing in 126 consecutively. This season, he was a National Collegiate Hockey Conference defenseman of the year finalist and offensive defenseman of the year finalist.

Simpson tallied 23 points in 42 games and scored seven goals (six on the power play). In his own end, Simpson led the country with 109 blocked shots and routinely matched up against opponents’ top players.

“It has been a memorable four years, the best four years of my life,” Simpson said. “I’m going to miss it a lot.”

Simpson, a highly recruited player in juniors, had four campus visits planned. UND was first. After his visit, he canceled the other visits and committed.

“I can’t say anything but good things,” he said. “I owe a lot to people who have helped me here — from my teammates to the coaches to the fans. It’s been a great experience.”

Simpson will complete his degree in managerial finance next month. Then he will train at Ralph Engelstad Arena to prepare for his first pro season.

“Growing up in Edmonton, I was a huge fan of the Oilers,” he said. “I always wanted to play with them. It feels right for me. I’m grateful with how they’ve been with me the last few years. I feel like it’s a good fit.”

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 12th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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