Compiled by MiCHO Staff
Two of Northern Michigan's best players this season will not be back for their senior seasons in Marquette and one senior will also be moving on.
Forward Mark Olver and defenseman Erik Gustafsson each signed NHL contracts this week, forgoing their final season of NCAA eligibility. Olver inked with the Colorado Avalanche, the team that drafted him in the fifth round in 2008, while Gustafsson signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Senior forward Ray Kaunisto also signed a free agent contact with the Los Angeles Kings.
Olver will report to Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
Olver led the ‘Cats during the 2009-10 season with 49 points on 19 goals and 30 assists in helping the team advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. The Burnaby, B.C., native was named one of the top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s player of the year. He also finished the regular season as the CCHA scoring champion with 35 points on 17 goals and 18 assists in 27 conference games and was named to the CCHA All-Conference First Team.
“Mark had a very productive career at Northern Michigan and we look forward to having him make his professional debut with the Lake Erie Monsters,” said Avalanche GM Greg Sherman.
Olver led the Wildcats in scoring in each of his three seasons as he collected 38 points for the 2007-2008 season (21-17) and 35 points for the 2008-09 season (16-19). For his NMU career, Olver appeared in 119 games and recorded 56 goals, 66 assists for 122 points.
“We are proud of Mark and what he has done to make this program competitive,” said NMU head coach Walt Kyle. “We are proud to be a part of helping him moving onto his dreams.”
Gustafsson, named the CCHA's top offensive defenseman the past two years, signed with the Flyers on March 29 and was assigned to the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL. Gustafsson played in 123 games for Northern from 2007-2010, scoring seven goals and 86 assists for 93 points.
The Kvissleby, Sweden, native earned All-CCHA Rookie Team honors in 2007-2008. In his sophomore year, Gustafsson was named to the CCHA All-Conference First Team and to the Reebok/ACHA Division I Ice Hockey All-America West second team. This season, Gustafsson was again named to the CCHA All-Conference First Team.
After completing his NCAA eligibility, Kaunisto, a Sault Ste. Marie native, signed with the Kings organization and will head to L.A. this week. In four years and 161 career games, Kaunisto had 36 goals and 26 assists, good for 62 points, and 208 penalty minutes.