One of top players in college hockey the past three years is moving on to the NHL.
Scott Perunovich, the junior defenseman who helped Minnesota Duluth win back-to-back national championships in 2018 and ’19 and had the Bulldogs in the running for a three-peat, agreed to terms with the St. Louis Blues on a two-year, entry level contract, the club announced Friday. Perunovich will forgo his senior season at UMD.
Perunovich, a Hibbing, Minn., native, was a second-round draft pick (45th overall) of the Blues in 2018. His signing caps a busy couple of weeks for the smooth-skating, 5-10, 175-pounder. On March 18, he was named one of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey’s top player. This week, he earned NCHC player of the year honors, along with the conference’s offensive defenseman of the year for the third consecutive year. The Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalists will be announced Thursday, and the award winner will be revealed April 10.
Perunovich, 21, was the first defenseman to win the NCHC scoring title, with four goals and a league-high 28 assists in 24 conference games. He ranked second nationally in scoring by a defenseman (6-34-40), ranked second nationally among all skaters with 34 assists and tied for the NCAA lead with 22 power-play points. He was named College Hockey News’ national player of the year on Tuesday.
As a freshman, Perunovich burst on the college hockey scene by scoring 11 goals and assisting on 25 as Minnesota Duluth, the last team to qualify for the NCAA tournament in 2018, won four one-goal games on the way to the national championship. In 2018-19, he battled a back injury but still finished with three goals and 26 assists as the Bulldogs repeated as national champs. Coach Scott Sandelin’s squad carried a 22-10-2 record into the NCHC quarterfinals this year and was in line to be a No. 1 seed in an NCAA tournament regional before the season was canceled March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He earned American Hockey Coaches Association West All-America honors as a freshman and sophomore, and is a shoo-in to add a third such honor in April.