Louis Belpedio had already been playing on an amateur tryout in the AHL, but has now officially signed his two-year entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild and will join the team right away. That means he’ll burn the first year of the deal in 2017-18, but could make an impact for a team struggling to replace an injured Ryan Suter. Despite being only 21 currently, Belpedio was only able to sign a two-year contract because he’ll turn 22 before September 15th of this year.
Interestingly, even though Belpedio was already playing in the Minnesota system he still could have waited for free agency this summer. After playing four years for the Miami University (Ohio), the third-round pick would have been highly sought after had he waited. Instead, he’ll sign with his draft team and get through the first year of his entry-level contract right away, and could even help them down the stretch and into the playoffs. The Wild are expected to welcome back Jared Spurgeon in time for the first round, but even with his return there is a hole on the Minnesota blue line.
Belpedio is a strong right-handed puck-moving defenseman that put up 30 points in 37 games this season in the NCAA. Though obviously stepping into a playoff picture is still a long-shot, he’s done nothing but impress during his time in the AHL and should compete for an NHL job in short order. Regardless of whether he gets into a game this season, the added experience of being around the Wild for the next few weeks will be a great development tool as he enters the professional ranks.