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UMD men's hockey: Hermantown's Plante, centers Spicer and James drafted on Day 2 in Montreal

Three Bulldogs were taken on the second and final day of the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal, with Hermantown's Zam Plante going in the fifth round to the Pittsburgh Penguins. A pair of UMD centermen were also drafted as freshman Cole Spicer was selected in the fourth round by the Boston Bruins and sophomore Dominic James was selected in the sixth round by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Zam Plante.
Hermantown’s Zam Plante.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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Zam Plante, who helped Hermantown High School win a Minnesota Class A state championship as a junior in 2021-22, is officially an NHL draft pick, just like his father.

Plante was taken in the fifth round, No. 150 overall, Friday by the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal. A verbal commitment of Minnesota Duluth, Zam Plante was drafted 11 picks earlier than his father, UMD associate head coach Derek Plante, who was taken by the Buffalo Sabres in the eighth round, No. 161, of the 1989 draft.

“I think I’ll be before that,” Zam said in the lead-up to the draft when asked if he’d be drafted higher than his dad.

Zam Plante, who turns 18 in late August, was ranked No. 64 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Zam split his junior year of high school between Hermantown and the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. Playing with his brother Max at Hermantown, Zam posted 24 goals and 37 assists in 22 games for the Hawks. Playing for the Steel in the fall and spring — before and after the high school season — Zam registered 10 goals and 11 assists in 31 games.

With another year of high school to go before he can begin playing for his dad at UMD, Zam Plante is weighing whether to split another season between Hermantown and Chicago, or to play all of 2022-23 at the junior level.

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That’s a conversation he’ll have with the Penguins, though the decision won’t be theirs to make, Plante said prior to the draft.

“I think you listen to what they have to say, but it’s your decision,” Zam Plante said. “I got to make a decision for myself.”

Hermantown's Zam Plante, a future Bulldogs forward and standout scorer for the Hawks, will be joined by his brothers, mother and grandfather at the NHL Draft this week in Montreal. His father, a coach at UMD and NHL draft pick himself, will also be there in person after missing out on the 1989 event in Minnesota.

Spicer the top ‘Dog’ on Day 2

Bulldogs incoming freshman center Cole Spicer was the first Bulldog to be taken during the draft’s second day Friday, going in the fourth round, No. 117 overall, to the Boston Bruins — who currently own the rights to Bulldogs senior assistant captain and winger Quinn Olson (2019, 3rd round).

“It’s a winning program and they have a great history,” said Spicer, who had already received a text from Olson welcoming him to the Bruins. “My dad has been a diehard Bruins fan for many, many years, so I know he’s pretty pumped up.”

Spicer — a Grand Forks native who was changed his commitment from the hometown North Dakota Fighting Hawks to UMD this spring — played alongside incoming freshman wing Isaac Howard the last two years on the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. Howard went in the first round, No. 31 overall, on Thursday to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Isaac Howard, a winger who will join Minnesota Duluth as a freshman in the fall, became the fifth Bulldog taken in the first round of the NHL Draft. He was selected No. 31 overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday in Montreal.

Spicer finished with 20 goals and 19 assists in 58 games last season playing for the NTDP Under-18 squad, including three goals and two assists at the 2022 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship in Germany.

“To be here back home with my friends and family, it’s awesome,” Spicer said of getting drafted. “It means the world.”

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Blackhawks lock up James

UMD sophomore center Dominic James was drafted in the sixth round, No. 173 overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks, whose associate general manager is Bulldogs legend Norm Maciver.

It’s the second consecutive year Chicago used a late-round pick to nab the rights of a Bulldog after their freshman season, picking defenseman Connor Kelley — who has since transferred to Providence for his junior season — in the seventh round last year.

The Blackhawks also own the rights to junior defenseman Wyatt Kaiser, who went in the third round in 2020.

Minnesota Duluth plays Michigan Tech in regional semifinal game in Loveland
Minnesota Duluth forward Dominic James (17) passes the puck near Michigan Tech defenseman Brett Thorne (27) during the NCAA regional semifinal game on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

James, 20, was in his last year of eligibility for the draft and would have been an unrestricted free agent that could sign anywhere after 2022-23.
James had six goals and 12 assists centering a pair of NHL draft picks in Blake Biondi (Montreal) and Olson last season. That landed him on the radar of USA Hockey — and later NHL scouts — who put James on the initial 2022 U.S. National Junior Team that was in Red Deer, Alberta, last winter when the World Junior Championship was canceled after four days of games.

James — as well as Howard, Spicer and Biondi — has been invited to try out again for Team USA for the reboot of the 2022 World Juniors in August in Edmonton, as well as the 2023 World Juniors in December and January in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick.

Bulldogs taken in 2022 NHL Draft

First round
No. 31 — Isaac Howard, freshman wing, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Fourth round
No. 117 — Cole Spicer, freshman center, Boston Bruins

Fifth round 
No. 150 — Zam Plante, verbal commitment, Pittsburgh Penguins

Sixth round
No. 173 — Dominic James, sophomore center, Chicago Blackhawks

Drafted Bulldogs on 2022-23 roster

Isaac Howard, Tampa Bay Lightning (2022, Round 1, 31st overall)

Cole Spicer, Boston Bruins (2022, 4th, 117)

Dominic James, Chicago Blackhawks (2022, 6th, 173)

Wyatt Kaiser, Chicago Blackhawks, (2020, 3rd, 81)

Jack Smith, Montreal Canadiens (2020, 4th, 102)

Blake Biondi, Montreal Canadiens (2020, 4th, 109)

Quinn Olson, Boston Bruins (2019, 3rd, 92)

Will Francis, Anaheim Ducks (2019, 6th, 163)

Matthew Thiessen, Vancouver Canucks (2018, 7th, 192)

Luke Loheit, Ottawa Senators (2018, 7th, 194)

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The Plante family tradition of playing athletic at UMD continues. Zam's and Max's parents, Derek and Kristi, were both standout athletes for the Bulldogs. Derek Plante is also a former UMD hockey coach.
Minnesota Duluth's Wyatt Kaiser and Dominic James are among the 27 players USA Hockey is taking to Calgary this week for the rescheduled World Junior Championship. Two more cuts will be made before the final U.S. National Junior Team is announced.
Derek Plante has stepped down as associate head coach of Minnesota Duluth to become an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. He'll work with three coaches who he played with during his 15-year professional career.
A resident of Hermantown and native of Cloquet, Derek Plante was a development coach for the Blackhawks from 2015-2020.
Andy Welinski lands another one-year NHL deal, and will play for his fourth NHL organization in four seasons after previously being with the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers and the Calgary Flames.
Esko native Karson Kuhlman avoided free agency this week, re-signing with the Seattle Kraken

This story was updated at 12:23 p.m. on Monday, July 11, 2022, adding Montreal Canadiens draft pick Jack Smith and Vancouver Canucks pick Matthew Thiessen to the list of NHL draft picks on the 2022-23 UMD roster. Both were originally omitted. This story was originally posted at 12:44 p.m. on Friday, July 8, 2022 and was updated after the finale of the 2022 NHL Draft at 3:47 p.m. on Friday, July 8, 2022.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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