NCAA runner-up Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Neal Pionk finally announced his intentions to forego his college eligibility and turn pro. After weeks of deliberation the sophomore decided to leave Duluth to pursue a career in the NHL.
Minnesota-Duluth D Neal Pionk decided to leave school and go pro. Free agent. Process begins this week and there will be a lot of interest.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 17, 2017
We profiled Pionk last month after the Golden Knights had reportedly shown interest in the college free agent. He went undrafted in the Entry Draft ultimately because of his 5’11″/181 pound stature. Now, after dominating on the NCAA level, teams are looking past height and more on Pionk’s high level skill. As a two-way, puck moving defenseman with a hard shot, NHL teams are ready to make offers.
He’s good in his own zone. But when you watch him, what stands out is how good his shot is, and he can score with it. He’s got a Shea Weber quality to him with the shot. Just got a missile. – Dave Starman, ESPN College Hockey analyst and scout
Vegas has the opportunity to take a risk on a player that was passed over by all 30 clubs. Last week, I asked Kelly McKrimmon a few questions about Pionk and other college prospects. He wouldn’t comment directly, but confirmed they’re still on the scouting trail of college free agents.
I know that we’ve had real good coverage. We’ve targeted a very small number. To be honest with you, we haven’t cast a wide net. -Kelly McKrimmon, Assistant General Manager