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UND's Caggiula, Schmaltz to make NHL debuts Wednesday

Two-thirds of UND's CBS Line will make their NHL debuts Wednesday night. Nick Schmaltz will open the season on the roster of the Chicago Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cups in the past seven years. The Blackhawks will be taking on rival S...

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Edmonton Oilers forward Drake Caggiula (36) chases the loose puck against the Calgary Flames during the third period of a preseason hockey game at Rogers Place. Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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Two-thirds of UND's CBS Line will make their NHL debuts Wednesday night.

Nick Schmaltz will open the season on the roster of the Chicago Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cups in the past seven years. The Blackhawks will be taking on rival St. Louis at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

Drake Caggiula will open the season as the third-line center for the Edmonton Oilers, who host rival Calgary at 9 p.m.

Edmonton's top two centers are No. 1 overall draft picks. Caggiula, an undrafted free agent signing after a huge senior season, is the third.

"Speaks volumes about NoDak's program," Sportsnet columnist Thomas Drance wrote.

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Schmaltz and Caggiula teamed up with Brock Boeser, now a sophomore at UND, to form a dominant first line for UND last season.

The CBS Line led UND to the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions and NCAA national champions.

In the Frozen Four, Caggiula scored four goals and was named the Most Outstanding Player honors, while Schmaltz scored the season's most dramatic goal-a game-winner against Denver in the semifinals with less than a minute remaining.

Schmaltz and Caggiula head up a class of 13 former UND players who will be on opening night NHL rosters.

Another highlight is Aaron Dell, who will start the season as the backup goaltender for the San Jose Sharks. Dell is aiming to become the first former UND goalie to play in the NHL since Ed Belfour.

Several former UND players will be captains of their teams, too.

Jonathan Toews will be wearing the 'C' for the Chicago Blackhawks for the ninth consecutive year. He is the fourth-longest tenured captain in the NHL behind Shane Doan (Arizona Coyotes), Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins) and Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins).

Travis Zajac and Zach Parise will continue wearing an 'A' for the New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild, respectively.

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A pair of former UND defensemen will man the blue line for the Los Angeles Kings in Matt Greene and Derek Forbort, while former freshman classmates Taylor Chorney and T.J. Oshie team up for the Washington Capitals.

Brock Nelson, who played prep hockey at Warroad High School like Oshie, is on the opening-day roster for the New York Islanders, while Drew Stafford enters his 11th NHL season. Stafford will play for the Winnipeg Jets.

Moorhead's Chris VandeVelde, a former UND alternate captain, will suit up for his old college coach, Dave Hakstol, in Philadelphia.

Hakstol reached the NHL Playoffs with the Flyers in his first season as an NHL head coach. He spent 11 seasons as the head coach at UND.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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