The Ottawa Senators are heavily investing their future on UND players and that starts with Christian Wolanin.
The Senators, who have picked three UND players in the top two rounds of the NHL Draft the past two years, signed Wolanin to a two-year contract Thursday.
It's a two-way deal in Year 1 of the contract. Wolanin will make $800,000 if he's in the NHL next season and $100,000 if he's in the American Hockey League.
It's a one-way deal in Year 2 of the contract (2020-21). Wolanin will make $1 million whether he's in the NHL or the AHL, which means the Senators are projecting he'll be a full-time NHL defenseman.
Wolanin, a fourth-round pick of the Senators in 2015, has played 40 NHL games the past two seasons. The offensive defenseman has tallied five goals and 15 points in those games.
Last season, Wolanin split time between the NHL and AHL. He had seven goals and 31 points in 40 AHL games for Belleville (Ont.). He was named to the AHL's All-Star Game.
Wolanin spent three seasons at UND from 2015-18. He helped UND to an NCAA title as a rookie playing on a defensive corps that has sent four players, including himself, to the NHL already. The other three are Troy Stecher (Vancouver Canucks), Tucker Poolman (Winnipeg Jets) and Paul LaDue (Los Angeles Kings).
As a junior, Wolanin became the first defenseman to lead UND in scoring since James Patrick in 1982-83 by tallying 12 goals and 35 points in 40 games.
Wolanin turned pro at the end of the 2017-18 season and immediately jumped into the NHL, playing 10 games for Ottawa to end the year.
The Senators have continued to be big on UND-bound players.
Last summer, they used a first-round pick to draft UND defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker and a second-round pick to draft UND defenseman Jonny Tychonick. Bernard-Docker and Tychonick will be sophomores this upcoming season.
Last month, the Senators used the first pick of the second round, No. 32 overall, to take UND-bound forward Shane Pinto, who will be on campus this fall.