Former Michigan Tech hockey players Chris Conner and Clay Wilson have each signed two-year entry level contracts with National Hockey League teams during the past week. Conner inked with the Dallas Stars, while Wilson signed with the Anaheim Ducks. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
"We are very happy for both of these individuals," said MTU head coach Jamie Russell. "Chris and Clay represented Michigan Tech very well during the time they played here and have continued to do so since their professional careers began. It's always great to see players that work really hard to get to this level be rewarded by signing NHL contracts."
Conner (above) began his professional career with the Iowa Stars in the American Hockey League upon completing his tenure at Michigan Tech in 2005-2006. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound forward recorded five points in 15 regular-season games with the Stars before collecting two points in seven Calder Cup playoff contests.
The Westland native led the Huskies in scoring for the second time in his four-year career last season with a 17-12--29 line. He also paced Tech with nine multi-point games and two multi-goal games in his final collegiate campaign. Named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 17, Conner also poured in three game-winning goals and three shorthanded tallies.
Conner is also Tech's all-time leader in career shorthanded goals (15) and ranks second on the NCAA's shorthanded goals chart. The former All-American finished with 69 goals and 129 points in 151 games and is one of 60 Huskies in the 100-point club. He ranks 19th among all MTU players in goals and 35th all-time in points.
"I wouldn't have had the opportunity to play at the professional level without my experiences at Michigan Tech," said Conner. "I learned so much playing for the Huskies and I will need to continue learning to be successful in the NHL. I am really excited to be a part of a great organization like Dallas where some former college hockey players have earned playing time."
A 6-foot, 205-pound defenseman, Wilson (left) registered 37 points in 60 games for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins in 2005-2006, good for third among all rookie defensemen. Wilson garnered AHL Player of the Week accolades on Dec. 26, becoming the first Griffins defenseman to ever win the honor after chipping in four goals and an assist in three games. He ended the regular season with a plus-17 rating. In 16 Calder Cup playoff outings, the blueliner compiled a 0-3--3 line with eight penalty minutes.
Before moving to Grand Rapids, Wilson appeared in 13 games with the Muskegon Fury of the UHL. He had 12 points with nine penalty minutes.
A four-year standout at Michigan Tech from 2001-2005, Wilson amassed 17 goals and 57 points with 119 penalty minutes in 148 career games. He was a two-time recipient of the Gitzen-Loutit Memorial Award as the Huskies' outstanding defenseman.
"My path to Anaheim started at Michigan Tech," said Wilson. "I had a lot of great experiences with the coaching staff and players and will always remember those four years of Tech hockey. It's really a dream come true to have the chance to play for Anaheim in the NHL. It wasn't the easiest path starting in the UHL and moving up the ranks to the AHL, but all the help I have received along the way has made it all worth it."
Conner and Wilson will report to their respective training camps in Dallas and Anaheim in September.
Wilson photo courtesy Deanna Bradford.