Defenseman Tony Turgeon signed an entry-level professional contract with the Florida Panthers, and won't play his senior season for the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Turgeon had been with the Panthers during their development camp that ended last week.
“That kind of surprised me,” Mavericks coach Dean Blais said of the offer. “They brought him in for an evaluation and it was good for his confidence, and the next thing you know they offer him a contract. It was kind of a surprise to everyone, including Tony.”
Blais said Turgeon got a good deal financially and he was pleased that it also stipulates educational expenses.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from Grand Forks, N.D., played in 62 of UNO's 116 games in three seasons and recorded 169 penalty minutes, 12th-most in school history. He led the Mavs in penalty minutes each of the past two seasons and was second as a freshman.
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Turgeon, who had two assists in each of his three seasons, would occasionally play forward when UNO looked for more of a defensive presence on its fourth line.
“He's been in and out of the lineup for his three years,” Blais said. “And we'd told him he'd have to have a real consistent senior year to help us out. He's reduced his body fat over the years and improved his conditioning and became a solid defenseman — just not good enough to get in the lineup on a regular basis.”
Blais said there was no immediate plan to replace Turgeon on the roster.
Senior Michael Young, NHL draft picks Jaycob Megna, Nick Seeler and Brian Cooper, junior Brian O'Rourke and incoming freshmen Ian Brady and Preston Hodge are the seven blue-liners competing for the six spots in the lineup.
“We'll just have to go with seven defensemen,” Blais said. “You'd like to have eight, but we still have a solid corps of defensemen.”