Tyler Kleven signs three-year deal with Ottawa Senators
Kleven will report to the Sens on Friday and reunite with former UND teammates Shane Pinto and Jake Sanderson.
GRAND FORKS — Another UND player is headed to the Ottawa Senators.
Junior defenseman Tyler Kleven of Fargo has signed a three-year deal with the Senators, foregoing his final two years of college eligibility.
Kleven is expected to join the Senators immediately.
"We're very pleased that Tyler has recently made the decision to begin his pro career," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. "He's a big, rangy, hard-nosed defender who maintains a physical presence while on the ice and an ability to hammer the puck with his shot. We've been especially impressed with his overall development dating to his draft year."
Kleven will join three former UND teammates in the Ottawa organization — forward Shane Pinto, defenseman Jake Sanderson and defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker.
Kleven was an imposing figure on UND’s blue line for the past three seasons.
The 6-foot-5, 213-pound left hander played in 95 games, scoring 20 goals and tallying 35 points.
Kleven had his best year as a junior, scoring eight goals and tallying 18 points.
This season, Kleven became a key piece to UND’s second power-play unit, where he one-timed pucks from the right circle. He had five power-play goals, tying for third on the team.
He also was a shutdown defenseman on UND’s top pairing alongside senior Ethan Frisch.
Kleven’s physicality often resulted in penalty minutes — he had 214 across three seasons — and sometimes game misconducts. Kleven was called for seven major penalties in the last two seasons and was suspended a game three separate times.
After getting his fourth major of this season on Feb. 11 at Denver, Kleven was called for just one minor penalty in UND’s final nine games.
Kleven’s most memorable moment in a UND jersey came in March 2022, when he scored an overtime winner in Omaha to give UND its third-straight Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions.
Kleven also won a World Junior Championship gold medal during his college career.
The Senators drafted Kleven in the second round, No. 44 overall, in 2020.
Dorion traveled to watch Kleven in person this season and came away impressed.
“I have two kids. If I could adopt a third one, it would be Tyler Kleven,” Dorion recently said. “That's how impressed I was with him."
Kleven’s departure continues a major exodus among UND’s blue line.
Frisch, an undrafted free agent, is nearing a deal and is expected to begin a professional career, too.
Once that happens, UND will only have one defenseman remaining from last season’s team — junior Cooper Moore.
Chris Jandric, Ryan Sidorski and Ty Farmer were fifth-year seniors whose eligibility expired. Sophomores Luke Bast and Brent Johnson entered the transfer portal this week.
UND is expected to bring in five rookie defensemen — Abram Wiebe of the Chilliwack Chiefs, Jake Livanavage of the Chicago Steel, Andrew Strathmann of the Youngstown Phantoms, Nate Benoit of the Waterloo Black Hawks and Tanner Komzak of the Whitecourt Wolverines.
The Fighting Hawks also will have to dip into the transfer portal and grab at least two blue liners.
UND got a big boost up front this week when 20-goal scorer Riese Gaber decided he will stay for his senior season.