The Columbus Blue Jackets have dipped their toes into the college free agent waters, signing Josh Dunne to a two-year entry-level contract. Dunne’s deal will start this season and has been immediately assigned to the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. The 22-year-old served as captain for Clarkson University this season, though played just 14 games due to injury.
This isn’t the first time Dunne’s name has been thrown around by NHL teams. As Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports, the young forward was highly sought after last spring after an outstanding sophomore campaign that saw him win the ECAC Best Defensive Forward award. The 6’4″ center may not project to be a top-line player at the next level, but a commitment to both ends of the rink and good hands around the net are a mix that scouts love in undrafted free agents.
If Dunne is looking for guidance on his transition, he needs to look no further than the Blue Jackets front office. GM Jarmo Kekalainen also played at Clarkson as an undrafted forward before signing with the Boston Bruins in 1989. While things have changed a bit since then, even Kekalainen’s modest 55-game NHL career would be a win for Dunne.