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Whitefish's Jake Sanderson signs entry-level contract with Ottawa Senators

Jake Sanderson Team USA
Posted at 3:13 PM, Mar 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-27 17:16:31-04

WHITEFISH — Jake Sanderson is headed to the NHL.

The Ottawa Senators announced on Sunday morning that the team had reached an agreement with the Whitefish native on an entry-level contract. The three-year deal goes into effect immediately, the team announced.

With his signing official, when Sanderson takes the ice in the NHL, he will make Treasure State history and become the first Montana-born player to do so in the league's history. The Senators also announced Sanderson's jersey number will be No. 85.

Sanderson, 19, just completed his second season as a defenseman with North Dakota's men's college hockey team. This year, Sanderson was named an assistant captain on the team as a sophomore, and Sanderson racked up 26 total points on the team with eight goals and 18 assists in just 23 of UND's 39 games. In 45 total games in two seasons at North Dakota, Sanderson finished with 41 points in his college career (10 goals, 31 assists). He was also named second-team All-National Collegiate Hockey Conference for his work this season.

"We're very pleased to get Jake under contract," Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a media release. "An important cog to our future on (defense), Jake is an effortless skater who possesses all the tools to be a complete NHL (defenseman). A mature leader despite his young age, he played big minutes in college with a blend of poise and confidence. While he still has progress to make in overcoming a current injury, we are hopeful of seeing him in our lineup before the end of the season."

A big reason Sanderson missed a large chunk of games for North Dakota was the Montanan was selected to represent Team USA at the 2022 Beijing Olympics this winter as one of the youngest members in history. Sanderson played in just one of Team USA's games, a win against Canada, but missed the rest of the competition due to COVID-19 protocols before the tournament and an injury after the win against Canada. Sanderson also spent time at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship where he was a captain for Team USA as well.

The Olympics were just one more box checked off Sanderson's goal list before his call-up to the NHL. Along with his starring college career, Sanderson helped lead the U.S. Junior National team to the World Junior Championships gold medal in Jan. 2021.

Sanderson was selected fifth overall by Ottawa in the 2020 NHL Draft that October. The Senators held his rights during his two seasons at UND before making their signing official. The Senators said Sanderson will join the team this week and could make his first appearance with the club this regular season "within the month."