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Golden Knights sign free-agent college defenseman Jimmy Schuldt

Updated April 3, 2019 - 11:05 pm

Jimmy Schuldt left City National Arena in June with a target on his back.

The Golden Knights liked what they saw from the college free-agent-to-be at their development camp, and the St. Cloud State defenseman was impressed by the organization and the Las Vegas community. So they reunited 10 months later when the coveted prospect signed an entry-level contract with the Knights on Wednesday.

“I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity,” Schuldt said. “I just (want to) try to put my best foot forward and maybe get an opportunity to get my feet wet. Just be out there and meet as many people as I can and start building relationships.”

Schuldt, 23, received interest from 29 NHL teams after the Huskies’ season ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, according to his agent, Tom Lynn. The 6-foot-1-inch, 205-pound blue liner narrowed his list to five before choosing the Knights. He will skate with the team Thursday.

Coach Gerard Gallant said it’s possible that Schuldt will play in the final two regular-season games, but he’s ineligible for the postseason.

“I felt the right fit with the people that are there,” Schuldt said. “With (general manager) George McPhee, Gerard Gallant and all the people I was able to meet at development camp.”

Schuldt left college as the highest-scoring defenseman in St. Cloud State history with 118 points in 156 games. The three-time captain won the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Defenseman of the Year awards this season and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top player in college hockey.

Schuldt will become a restricted free agent this summer and can sign a longer deal with the Knights. Until then, the Minnetonka, Minnesota, native will try to make a good impression in his first taste of professional hockey.

“We had him at development camp last year,” Gallant said. “We were on the ice for a week with him, and we really liked him. When George talked about him last year and our staff talked about him last year, we said that’s a guy that we’re targeting.”

Birthday boy

Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland turned 37 on Wednesday and celebrated by practicing with his team a week before the start of the NHL playoffs.

It’s a scenario Engelland didn’t envision when he began a professional hockey journey that took him to places such as Lowell, Massachusetts, and several eastern Pennsylvania towns well into his mid-20s.

“I probably didn’t think I’d be playing on my 30th birthday in the NHL, much less 37,” he said. “I’m just happy to be here, and I love every day. It’s been a great ride. Hopefully, it keeps going.”

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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