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University of North Dakota defenseman excited about NHL deal


Brian Lee says it was not an easy decision to sign with the NHL instead of returning to play hockey at the University of North Dakota. But he’s happy with his choice.

“It was tough to leave school, obviously, because those guys aren’t just good players, but they’re good guys,” Lee said. “But I’m comfortable with my decision. I thought it was the right thing for my development.”

The 20-year-old defenseman was the ninth overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft. He signed with the Ottawa Senators and attended their annual development camp over the past week.

“I’m ecstatic about it. I was all smiles the entire night after I signed the contract,” the former Moorhead, Minn., high school player said. “It really is a dream come true for me.”

He has a three-year deal worth $850,000 per season if he plays in the NHL. He also has a lucrative bonus package attached and an $85,000 signing bonus.

Lee knows he will need a good showing at the team’s rookie camp in early September, which leads into the official training camp.

“Getting a shot with Ottawa right away might be a stretch,” Lee said. “I’ll need an unbelievable camp and I’ll have to impress a lot of people.

“I also have no problem going to Binghamton and working my way to the club that way,” he said, referring to Ottawa’s AHL team in New York.

Lee’s younger brother, John, was taken by the Florida Panthers in the fifth round of the NHL draft June 24.

“It’s been very exciting for us,” Lee said. “With John getting picked up by Florida, and me signing my first NHL contract, it’s been kind of a whirlwind.

“But it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “We’re definitely blessed.”

Information from: The Forum,

–Associated Press

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