Jack Dugan, who led the NCAA in scoring this season, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
"It's an amazing feeling," Dugan said. "Obviously I think that any player in my position, anyone that's played hockey growing up has dreamed of playing in the NHL, so it might be a little cliche, but it truly is a dream come true and I couldn't be happier."
The 22-year-old forward scored 52 points (10 goals, 42 assists) in 34 games as a sophomore for Providence College. He also led the NCAA in assists, points per game (1.53), and power-play points (22). His contract will begin next season.
"There's some merit to it being a two-year deal," Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "It gives Jack a real good opportunity to get his feet wet in pro hockey before he's going into a contract year had he burned a year. We were open-minded to doing it either way, but we're pleased to have Jack under contract and looking forward to him turning pro in our organization."
Dugan, who was selected by the Golden Knights in the fifth round (No. 142) of the 2017 NHL Draft, was second on Providence with 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) in 41 games as a freshman in 2018-19, helping the Friars advance to the NCAA Frozen Four.
"After my freshman year I did have the opportunity to (sign with Vegas)," Dugan said. "You know ultimately I thought that there were some things I wanted to achieve in college hockey since I was 5 years old that I wasn't able to my freshman year. Going into my sophomore year, I kind of knew if I had a good year and I was able to keep developing, hopefully I was going to get offered a contract at the end of the year again, and then when that came -- regardless of obviously the season being cut short (by the coronavirus) -- when it came I was confident and comfortable in signing and moving my development to the next level, which is turning pro. That's exactly what I did."
Prior to playing at Providence, Dugan scored 66 points (31 goals, 35 assists) in 54 games for Chicago of the United States Hockey League in 2017-18 and was named to the All-USHL First Team.
"Growing up I was always a pretty good offensive player, I was always able to control the game offensively," Dugan said. "I think the areas I needed to grow in were defensively and away from the puck. ... Once I got to Providence with my coach Nate Leaman, he kind of knew I was working on that and then developed it even more so. I think I still have a long ways to go in every aspect of the game, but I think I've grown in my defensive side of the game, and I'd like to continue to grow in that aspect as well as obviously keep growing offensively."
Dugan is not eligible to play for Vegas in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers or Playoffs. The Golden Knights, who will play in the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers, open up against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city, on Aug. 3.
"Since we made the announcement [on Dugan joining the organization], a lot of things have happened, including a new [NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement] that spoke to players in this situation," McCrimmon said. "There wasn't any issue that he was going to join the organization. It was just a matter of getting everything in place before that final decision could be made, how we wanted to handle the contract."