Goligoski skips Minnesota; signs with Pens

The WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, Alex Golgoski, has decided to skip the Golden Gophers and has signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.

The 21 year-old Goligoski earned the WCHA recognition as a Junior at the University of Minnesota, where he tied for third on his team in scoring with 39 points (9+30), while leading in assists and playing all 44 games for Minnesota. Goligoski also ranked first in defenseman scoring in the WCHA and second in the nation. He also ranked first among defenseman in points per game in the WCHA and fifth in the nation (0.89). Overall, Goligoski has scored 98 points (25+73) in 117 games in 3 seasons as a Golden Gopher and has earned several All-American honors.

The Penguins drafted Goligoski while still in high school, as much surprise to most at the time, in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft (61st overall). The 6-foot, 187 lb defenseman is happy to have signed with the Penguins organization, even though he would have wanted to help his Alma Mater earn an NCAA championship. “I would have loved to have finished my degree and there is a very good situation here at the University of Minnesota. But, at the same time, I came to the University of Minnesota to play hockey, really. My ultimate goal is to play hockey for as long as I can. It was the right move on my part, as far as hockey development. I am really excited to get in there and start learning from the guys and coaches and take that next step.” Goligoski added that “That’s exactly what it was – two great situations” and volunteered that “I think, at the end of the day, it’s what I need to do for my hockey development. I am ready for something new, in that sense. I am just really excited to get down there and meet everyone and get everything going.

Goligoski is not expected to make the NHL club yet, and most estimate he might be one to two years away from making the club.

This is basically the last blue-chipper left in the Penguins organization who is not yet in the NHL, albeit Kristopher Letang who is widely expected to make the NHL club this season. Unless some of the Penguins defensive assets are traded, in a short time the Penguins could have their blue line full of extremely good players in their niche in Gonchar, Whitney, Letang, and Goligoski. All after having traded Noah Welch to the Florida Panthers for Gary Roberts. If the Penguins would have been able to keep Welch, and develop Letang and Goligoski while joining Gonchar, Orpik, and Whitney, the blue-line could have developed into a force to recon with, on top of having to already deal with Crosby, Staal, and Malkin on offense, and Fleury guarding the twine. I expect some trades in the not so distant future from Ray Shero and the Penguins, using some of these assets in order to fill the void for a real bona fide scoring winger who can put up 35+ goals on his own, without accounting for the positive effect the Penguins slew of star centers will surely add to that offensive ability.

A more in-depth press release can be read by clicking HERE at PittsburghPenguins.com