The Minnesota Wild relinquished their rights to 2004 first-round pick A.J. Thelen on Friday after failing to sign him.
The Wild chose the 6-foot-3 defenseman with the 12th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He was coming off a stellar freshman season at Michigan State, where he was a second-team All-American.
But Thelen ran into trouble at the school and was kicked off the hockey team after being caught drinking underage.
He spent the next two years in the Western Hockey League, where he helped the Vancouver Giants win the Memorial Cup last week.
Thelen is now an unrestricted free agent and has already generated interest from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
The Wild had until Friday to sign him to a deal or forfeit his rights. The Wild will receive the 42nd overall pick in the June 22-23 draft as compensation.