Oilers sign Simpson

Former UND captain captures entry level NHL contract

Dillon Simpson skates at Ralph Engelstad Arena earlier this season. File photo. 

Remembering his final moments on the ice in a UND jersey may be bitter, but what Dillon Simpson accomplished in his four years at North Dakota have prepared him for what’s next.

On Tuesday, the Edmonton, Alta., native signed a three-year entry level contract with the

Edmonton Oilers National Hockey League team he knows all too well.

“It’s a team I grew up for and loving,” Simpson told the Oilers. “It’s a little bit surreal for me. It’s been a goal of mine for a long time now to sign this first contract and it’s a great opportunity. But I think more than anything, I’m excited that it’s a team that I’m familiar with and that I’ve been a huge fan of my entire life.”

Simpson skated in 156 career games at North Dakota, posting 16 goals and 59 assists while accumulating a plus-24 ranking.

He rotated in and out of the lineup as a freshman, but by the time his senior year rolled around, the “C” on Simpson’s shoulder was well-earned.

Before the inaugural season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, there was talk of Simpson’s young age in the leadership role he undertook. The freshmen that trumped the senior in age quickly looked up to his abilities.

“I think we’ve talked a lot about Dillon Simpson and his contributions, and rightfully so,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said following the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. “In my mind, he’s an all-American player in our program. He’s a great leader and captain.” With 109 blocked shots, Simpson led the nation in that category, was named to the All-NCHC First Team and was a finalist for the NCHC’s Player of the Year, Defenseman of the Year and Offensive Defenseman of the Year awards.

Simpson is not an unfamiliar name to the Oilers’ program as Dillon’s father Craig Simpson skated with Edmonton during his NHL career from 1987-88 to 1992-93, while also playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.

But before Simpson take the next step in his hockey career, he plans to complete his degree in managerial finance in the coming weeks — at the school he largely attributes to his success on and off the ice.

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].