UMD men's hockey: Stalock signs with Chicago Blackhawks as NHL free agency gets underway

Esko native Karson Kuhlman avoided free agency this week, re-signing with the Seattle Kraken

Former Minnesota Duluth goaltender Alex Stalock, then with the Minnesota Wild, sends the puck down ice in a February 2020 game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Stalock signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.
Tyler Schank / File / Duluth News Tribune
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Former Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock signed a one-year deal with the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks on the opening day of NHL free agency Wednesday.

Scott Powers of The Athletic first reported the deal, which is worth $750,000.

Stalock, who turns 35 later this month, has spent 13 seasons in the NHL and AHL since backstopping Minnesota Duluth for three seasons from 2006-09. The goaltender, then with the Edmonton Oilers, sat out the 2020-21 season due to a heart condition after contracting COVID-19, but returned in 2021-22 to play one game for the San Jose Sharks and 17 games in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors and San Jose Barracuda.

Prior to the pandemic, Stalock posted a .910 save percentage and 2.67 goals against average in 2019-20 with the Minnesota Wild. He struggled in both the NHL and AHL in 2021-22, with a GAA over 3.00 and save percentage under .900.


In 152 career NHL games, the St. Paul native has made 124 starts. He has a .908 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average with nine shutouts.

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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.

Stalock was one of three former Bulldogs to hit the NHL free agent market as unrestricted free agents on Wednesday along with Andy Welsinki and Justin Richards.

Welinski, the 29-year-old Duluth native who captained UMD as a senior in 2015-16, spent last season in the Calgary Flames organization after being part of the Anaheim Ducks franchise in 2020-21 and the Philadelphia Flyers system the two years before that. The defenseman played 13 NHL games — all with the Ducks in 2020-21 — over the past three seasons. He posted four goals and 21 assists in 52 games last year with the Stockton Heat, who made a deep run in the AHL playoffs.

Richards is an unrestricted free agent after not receiving a qualifying offer from the New York Rangers this offseason. He signed with the Rangers in 2020 after three seasons at UMD, getting in just one NHL game in two seasons with the franchise the last two years. Richards, 24, had six goals and eight assists for the Hartford Wolf Pack in 67 AHL games this year.

Former Bulldogs Scott Perunovich of Hibbing (St. Louis Blues), Jackson Cates (Philadelphia Flyers), Nick Swaney (Minnesota Wild) and Mikey Anderson (Los Angeles Kings) are restricted free agents, but they all received qualifying offers from their teams.

Kuhlman, Tufte, Wolff re-sign, avoid free agency

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Seattle Kraken
Seattle Kraken forward Karson Kuhlman (25), the former Minnesota Duluth captain from Esko, skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils at Climate Pledge Arena on April 16, 2022, in Seattle.
Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports

Former Bulldogs Karson Kuhlman, Riley Tufte and Nick Wolff were all slated to become free agents this summer, but their respective clubs re-signed all three to one-year deals before they could hit the market.

Kuhlman, the 26-year-old Esko native, re-signed with the Seattle Kraken on Monday, receiving a one-year deal worth $825,000. He was claimed off waivers by the Kraken in January after three-plus seasons with the Boston Bruins. Kuhlman — who scored two goals and six assists in 25 games with the Kraken this year — signed with the Bruins in 2018 as an undrafted free agent after captaining UMD to a national championship in 2017-18.

Tufte (Dallas Stars) and Wolff (Bruins) — who played in three-straight NCAA title games and won back-to-back national championships at UMD — both signed two-way deals worth $750,000 per year in the NHL. Tufte was drafted by the Stars in the first round in 2016, and after signing a three-year entry-level deal in 2019, he made his NHL debut this year. Wolff has yet to make his NHL debut, having played in the AHL with the Providence Bruins.


Miska heading to Europe

Hunter Miska, who backstopped the Bulldogs to the NCAA title game in 2017 during his one season at UMD, is heading to Germany to play for Straubing after five seasons in North America, mostly in the American Hockey League.

Miska appeared in six NHL games — one with the Arizona Coyotes and five with the Colorado Avalanche — posting a .842 save percentage and 4.10 goals against average.

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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