One of college hockey’s top stars is joining the Golden Knights.
Vegas announced today that Providence sophomore Jack Dugan is leaving college and joining the organization.
That typically means the player has signed an entry-level contract. But with the uncertainty of when the season will begin and whether a contract would start this season or in 2020-21, the Golden Knights did not announce terms of an agreement.
Still, it means Dugan, who was selected in the fifth round in Vegas’ inaugural 2017 draft, will be playing in Las Vegas next year.
The 20-year-old had a breakout season at Providence, leading the nation with 42 assists and 52 points in 34 games. He was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, the trophy for the top NCAA men’s hockey player.
Dugan is eligible to join the Golden Knights immediately and could see action this season if the season resumes. Play was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dugan will battle for a roster spot next training camp and if he doesn’t make the NHL squad, he will report to the AHL squad, which as of next season will be in Henderson.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to continue to play a key role in the development of Jack Dugan as both a hockey player and as a young man within our organization,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “Jack took significant steps in his growth over the past two seasons as one of the best all-around players in college hockey and has proven that he is ready for the next challenge in his young career.”
Dugan said via Twitter that he was thankful for his time at Providence. “I couldn’t be more grateful for this next opportunity and excited to get going with Vegas whenever that may be!” he said.
Dugan was drafted out of prep school before playing the next season in the USHL . He joined Providence in 2018-19 and produced immediately, registering 39 points in 41 games. Even then, it was clear he would be a good pro.
“He’s a guy that after one or two more years, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a very, very good prospect for Vegas,” Providence coach Nate Leaman told the Sun during Dugan’s freshman year.
He impressed at development camp in Las Vegas in June, showing why he was one of the Golden Knights’ top young skaters. He skated on the top line with Cody Glass, and even after Glass left camp early, Dugan continued to shine.
Dugan opened eyes across the country with his play at Providence this season and had his first taste of T-Mobile Arena in January when his Friars came to town as part of the Ice Vegas Invitational,. Dugan scored the first goal of the tournament.
“Hopefully that’s my first goal of many in this building,” Dugan said at the time. “Watching those (Golden Knights) games you think, where would I fit in in the future?”
McCrimmon said in December he thought Dugan was ready to turn pro. Dugan had two more years of college eligibility, at which point the Golden Knights would lose his rights. Getting him into the organization was key.
Where Dugan plays next season will be decided in training camp.
The Golden Knights rewarded fellow college signees Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt with NHL games immediately after signing, but both were undrafted free agents. It’s also notable that neither appeared in an NHL game the following season.
The NHL’s season pause adds to the confusion. Because of his age, Dugan is required to sign a two-year, two-way deal at a maximum of $925,000 per year, and it cannot slide the way Glass’ did last fall, which allowed him to play in the AHL.
If Dugan’s contract kicks in for the end of the season (assuming there is one), he would a restricted free agent next summer.