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Shane Gersich signs with Washington Capitals, could become UND's 100th NHL player

UND junior defenseman Christian Wolanin made his NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, and a classmate of his could be doing the same in the near future.

UND junior forward Shane Gersich officially signed his NHL deal with the Washington Capitals on Friday morning -- a move that had been expected for the last two days.

Gersich is joining Washington on the road in Montreal, where the Capitals will play the Canadiens on Saturday night.

If Gersich plays in one of Washington’s final eight games of the season, he will become the 100th former UND player to play in the NHL. The Capitals also are in line for a playoff spot.

Wolanin and Gersich are UND’s ninth and 10th early NHL signings in the last three offseasons -- the most of any team in the nation. No other team outside of Boston College (eight) has lost more than five early during that timespan.

UND isn’t expected to lose any more this offseason to early NHL signings.

Sophomore defenseman Colton Poolman, junior forward Nick Jones and junior centerman Rhett Gardner all have said they plan to return for next season.

Gersich, a fifth-round pick of the Capitals, scored 13 goals and tallied 29 points as a junior. He led the team with 21 goals as a sophomore.

Wolanin played 17 minutes, 9 seconds in his NHL debut on Thursday night against his former UND teammate, Drake Caggiula, and the Edmonton Oilers. Caggiula scored two goals in the game.

Wolanin, wearing No. 86, had an even plus-minus rating and made two hits. He even saw some power-play time.

Of the 19 players who played against Quinnipiac in UND’s 2016 NCAA national championship victory, eight are currently in the NHL -- Wolanin, Gersich, Caggiula, Nick Schmaltz, Brock Boeser, Paul LaDue, Tucker Poolman and Troy Stecher.

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 14th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman 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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