College men's hockey: Hermantown's Samberg leaving Bulldogs early, signs with Winnipeg Jets

Dylan Samberg joins Nick Wolff, Scott Perunovich and Justin Richards as Bulldogs who have signed NHL deals in recent weeks

Dylan Samberg (4) of Minnesota Duluth takes a shot on goal against St. Cloud during Friday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota (Clint Austin /
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Minnesota Duluth junior defenseman Dylan Samberg of Hermantown has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets, making him the fourth Bulldog to turn pro this spring.

The 21-year-old Samberg is a 2017 second-round pick of the Jets, going 43rd overall that year in the NHL Draft. According to a release from the Jets , the deal averages out to $1.175 million per year over the three years. His contract will begin with the 2020-21 season.

“This is a dream of mine growing up to eventually make it to this level and I’m really excited for what the future holds,” Samberg said Tuesday. “I feel like my game has developed these past three years. I’m thankful to my coaches. They’re a big part of the reason why I came to UMD with coach (Scott) Sandelin and coach (Jason) Herter on the defensive end, and even coach (Adam) Krause. They really helped me get to the point where I am now.”

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman leaves the Northland having led the Hawks to back-to-back Minnesota Class A hockey titles in 2016 and 2017. He then came to UMD and helped the Bulldogs capture back-to-back NCAA titles in 2018 and 2019.


Samberg also won a bronze medal in 2018 and silver in 2019 with the U.S. National Junior Team at the World Junior Championships.

Like many of his teammates, Samberg could have signed with the Jets last spring but chose to return to UMD to chase a historic third-straight national championship. That dream was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down the sports world, including college hockey and the NHL.

“It's really tough and we really wanted to try for that inevitable three-peat,” Samberg said last month. “It kind of feels like it got taken away from us, but at this point there's nothing we can do and it's obviously for the safety of everyone. I wouldn’t change anything. I love the group of guys that we had and I had a fun season, great season. Every year in Duluth has been great. I've loved it — the people around, the coaching staff and whatnot. I really don't regret anything.”

Samberg tallied a career-high 21 points as a junior in the coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 season with one goal and 20 assists in 28 games. He finishes his UMD career with nine goals and 44 assists in 109 games.

Defensively, he finished the 2019-20 season with a plus-17 plus/minus rating and blocked 35 shots.

Samberg said coming back to UMD this season not only put him closer to earning a college degree — he’ll be leaving UMD just 20 credits shy of graduating — but he was able to fine-tune his game for the professional level.

He hopes to be contending for a spot on the Jets’ NHL roster next season, which already includes fellow Hermantown native Neal Pionk.

“That’s the plan, that’s everyone’s plan when they make this decision,” Samberg said Tuesday. “It’s definitely something I’m going to be really pushing for. I know it’s going to be a big summer and I’m really looking forward to it.”


Samberg is the third defenseman and third junior from UMD to turn pro this spring. Senior defenseman Nick Wolff signed with the Boston Bruins and junior center Justin Richards signed with the New York Rangers . Both were undrafted free agents.

Junior defenseman Scott Perunovich of Hibbing has agreed to terms with the St. Louis Blues after being drafted in the second round, 45th overall, of the 2018 draft.

This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. April 7 with comments from Samberg after his signing and at 11:40 a.m. April 7 with more information. It was originally posted at 10:56 a.m. April 7.

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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