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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Three Irish players sign professional contracts

Notre Dame's hockey season officially ended last Saturday with a 1-0 loss to Minnesota State in the NCAA Tournament Regional Finals. For some of the graduating players on Notre Dame's roster, it may be the end of their playing careers. But three skaters—senior defenseman Spencer Stastney, graduate student defenseman Adam Karashik, and senior forward Graham Slaggert— know that won't be the case.

Of the three Irish players to sign professional contracts, Stastney is the lone player to ink an NHL contract. Stastney, a 2017 seventh-round draft pick by the Nashville Predators, signed his entry-level contract with Nashville on Thursday. The contract is a two-year deal, expiring after the 2022-23 season (with Stastney becoming a restricted free agent), and carries a $925,000 cap hit, per CapFriendly. Stastney was a work-horse for the Irish throughout his collegiate career. He is a mobile two-way defenseman who can defend well, jump up in the rush, and quarterback a power play. It's hard to find a better place for a young defender to develop than Nashville, as the Predators have drafted and developed several outstanding defensemen in recent years.

The road to the NHL for Karashik and Slaggert, who were both named to the Albany All-Regional Team for their exceptional work in the final games of their collegiate careers, will likely be a little bit longer. Both players signed contracts with AHL teams (the league below the NHL) over the last week. Slaggert signed with the Toronto Marlies, the affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll be reunited with his former Notre Dame teammate Alex Steeves. Graham had tremendous success playing with Steeves and sophomore forward Landon Slaggert last season. Playing mostly with Steeves in 2020-21, Graham enjoyed his best offensive season with the Irish, scoring 25 points in just 29 games.

Karashik, meanwhile, inked a contract with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. Karashik joined the Irish this season as a graduate transfer from UConn. He immediately stepped into a big role on Jeff Jackson's defense. He was one of just six Irish players to dress in all 40 games this season. Karashik's physicality and strong defensive play, both at 5-on-5 and on the PK, made him important for the Irish. It should also make him feel right at home in a Philadelphia organization known for its physicality dating back to the days of the Broad Street Bullies.