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Poolman makes Winnipeg opening-night roster

Sep 27, 2017; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman (3) controls the puck during the third period at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In six years, Tucker Poolman has gone from being cut by some North American Hockey League teams to making an NHL opening-day roster.

The Winnipeg Jets made their final preseason cuts Tuesday, and when they were done, the East Grand Forks Senior High and UND graduate was still standing.

Poolman’s NHL debut may not be imminent -- he has been skating on the fourth defensive pair in practice -- but it is expected to happen sometime this season.

Winnipeg opens the regular season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m. Wednesday, then goes on a three-game road trip to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

“We’re very happy for him,” UND coach Brad Berry said. “We’re very excited for him. He’s put himself in this position to earn that. He’s going to have to continue to play well and keep working hard to have a career, but he’s done a great job setting himself up to have a great career in front of him.

“He didn’t do it the traditional way, obviously. He was patient with the process and now he’s getting rewarded for it.”

Poolman’s journey to the NHL was a remarkable one.

He had no college scholarship offers after his senior season with the Green Wave, and needed multiple tryouts to find a junior team. But he quickly rose the ladder from the NAHL to the United States Hockey League to UND to the NHL in six years.

Poolman was able to make the opening-day roster, despite coming off of double shoulder surgery in the offseason -- injuries that forced him to miss UND’s NCAA tournament game against Boston University.

When he eventually makes his debut, he’ll become the 98th former UND player to suit up in the NHL.

Poolman is one of 16 former UND players on opening-day NHL rosters.

The others are Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher with the Vancouver Canucks, Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews with the Chicago Blackhawks, T.J. Oshie and Taylor Chorney with the Washington Capitals, Drew Stafford and Travis Zajac with the New Jersey Devils, Zach Parise with the Minnesota Wild, Drake Caggiula with the Edmonton Oilers, Aaron Dell with the San Jose Sharks, Derek Forbort with the Los Angeles Kings, Tyson Jost with the Colorado Avalanche, Brock Nelson with the New York Islanders and defending Stanley Cup champion Carter Rowney with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We’ve got a sprinkling of everything -- guys who have been in the NHL a number of years like Parise, Toews and Stafford, but it’s also nice to see the new crop of fresh faces making their way right now like Jost, Boeser and Poolman," Berry said. "From the older guys to the younger guys -- and everything in between -- it’s nice to have a North Dakota influence in NHL lineups.”

Four recruits on draft list

Four UND commits are on the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's preseason watch list in advance of the 2018 NHL Draft.

Defenseman Jonny Tychonick, who plays for the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League, is listed as a 'B' player, which means he's a potential second- or third-round draft pick.

Forward Braden Costello of Grand Forks, forward Gavin Hain of Grand Rapids, Minn., and defenseman Jacob Bernard Docker of Alberta are all listed as 'C' players, which means they are currently projected as fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round picks.

The draft will be held in Dallas on June 22-23.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th 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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