What has been a pleasant surprise for Colorado Avalanche fans over the past few weeks has been known to Gophers hockey fans for the past three years. Namely Sampo Ranta is a good player.
Ranta, 21, who signed with Avs shortly after the end of his youth season at the Gophers in March, will not return to the American Hockey League Colorado team, but will start the season in Denver with a big club. This gives 18 Gophers alumni to the NHL rosters on Opening Day.
“Sampo is big and strong. This is amazing, no? “Said Gophers coach Bob Motzko. “He is physically capable of handling anything and (he is) mature. A really mature kid for a professional lifestyle. You take off your hat and wish him all the best. He meant peace for this program, and he meant peace for us. So we are happy for him. ”
Finland’s Ranta led the Gophers’ attack last season with 19 goals and 12 assists, gaining 31 points in 31 games. He made his NHL debut in the playoffs for Avalanche and missed points in two games.
The avalanche made Rant, a 6’2,205 lb winger, the 78th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He spent the next three seasons playing for Gophers, ending his career with 37 goals and 30 assists in 102 games.
18 former gophers to start the season with NHL rosters:
Jake Bischoff – Golden Knights of Vegas
Nick Bugstad – Minnesota Wild
Travis Boyd – Arizona Coyotes
Alex Goligoski – Minnesota Wild
Eric Howla – Boston Bruins
Justin Hall – Toronto Maple Leafs
Eric Johnson – Colorado avalanche
Phil Kessel – Arizona Coyotes
Nick Leddy – Detroit Red Wings
Ryan Lindgren – New York Rangers
Casey Mittelstadt – Buffalo Sabers
Kyle Okposo – Buffalo Sabers
Rem Pitlik – Minnesota Wild
Sampo Ranta – Colorado avalanche
Mike Reilly – Boston Bruins
Nate Schmidt – Winnipeg Jets
Brady Skjay – Carolina Hurricanes
Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg Jets