MINNEAPOLIS -- Having done admirable work stopping pucks in Minneapolis for one-and-a-half hockey seasons, Mat Robson is going to head to St. Paul and try doing it for a paycheck.
On Monday, March 18, it was announced that Robson, a Minnesota Gophers junior from suburban Toronto, has decided to forgo his final season of college hockey eligibility to sign a two-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
"We've been very excited watching him play. I've seen him personally four times, and he's got a really attractive style. It's calm, yet it's energetic, the way he's able to find pucks and the way he absorbs them," said Wild general manager Paul Fenton. "He's a real student of the game, and I love that even when he's scored on he has that, 'OK, I've put it behind me and I'm ready to play again' attitude that you look for with successful goalies."
Per his agent, former NHLer Serge Payer, Robson will report to the Wild immediately to learn the ropes with the team, but under the terms of his contract is not eligible to play in the NHL playoffs should the Wild qualify. Robson, who took a long and winding road to the U of M, is 22 and was 14-12-4 for the Gophers as their goalie of record this season, starting 12 consecutive games at one point. He recently completed his bachelor’s degree in business and was widely expected to leave college a year early.
Robson, who was the first Canadian to play goalie at the U of M in three decades, set a Gophers career record with a .924 save percentage in the 45 games he played since becoming eligible under NCAA transfer rules in the middle of the 2017-18 season.
He joins a Wild team for whom veteran Devan Dubnyk has started 59 games this season, with Alex Stalock -- a college standout during his time with the UMD Bulldogs -- starting the other 14 games. Fenton said that barring an injury, Robson will not see time on the ice this season, but they want to give him a taste of NHL life.
"The plan is to get him into pro hockey to see NHL-caliber shooters. The plan is not to have him play games right now. I hope not anyway," Fenton said. "We want him to see what our environment is all about. We'll have him practice with us and travel with us and really get an idea of what we're all about."
Robson wore jersey number 40 as a Gopher, but will switch to 42 with the Wild. With seniors Eric Schierhorn and Brock Kautz having exhausted their eligibility, the Gophers will have a newcomer in goal next season.
The Wild also have been in contact with Gophers defenseman Jack Sadek, who was drafted by the team in 2015. It is possible that the senior will sign a minor league contract in the coming weeks. The Gophers are also closely watching junior forward Rem Pitlick. The team's leading scorer last season, Pitlick was a third round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2016 and is considered a prospect for early departure by many.