Minnesota Duluth senior center MacGregor Sharp signed a free-agent contract Monday with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and will be assigned to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Chops in Des Moines. He’s expected to be in uniform Tuesday for a home game against Houston.
"Every kid who ever puts on a pair of skates has a dream of playing professional hockey and that’s been my dream," Sharp said Monday before leaving for Des Moines. "The way our season ended was a little disappointing, but we had a great year and these were the best four years of my life."
Sharp, 23, from Red Deer, Alberta, who was undrafted by the NHL, signed a two-year, two-way contract with Anaheim which will pay him $152,500 a year if playing in the minor leagues or $700,000 a year in the NHL. He led UMD in scoring this season with 50 points as the Bulldogs won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff title and advanced to the NCAA Division I tournament. UMD lost in the West Regional title game to Miami of Ohio 2-1 Saturday night in Minneapolis. Sharp had 50 career goals.
"He had a great year for us and a phenomenal finish," said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. "He was so valuable in so many areas — faceoffs, scoring, penalty killing and leadership."
Anaheim senior vice president of hockey operations, David McNab, scouted Sharp in the second game of the college season, at home against Western Michigan, and kept tabs on the UMD center throughout the schedule.
"MacGregor was a dominant force in college hockey and was a star every night I saw him play," said McNab. "He was easily one of the best players in Division I."
Sharp was one of the hottest players in Division I the second half of the season and recorded 14 goals and eight assists for 22 points in the final 13 games. For the season he had 26 goals and 24 assists for 50 points in 43 games. In his UMD career he had 50 goals and 58 assists for 108 points in 157 games. Sharp planned to drive to Des Moines later Monday in his 1993 Ford Ranger, which he figured has already logged well over 100,000 miles.
Iowa has six games left in the regular season and is battling for a spot in the AHL playoffs. The Chops (32-29) are sixth in the West Division of th AHL’s Western Conference, five points out of second.