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Simpson Signs with his Childhood Team

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
Photo provided by UND Athletics/Eric Classen
The Edmonton Oilers have inked defenceman Dillon Simpson to a three-year entry level contract. It is a surreal moment for Simpson, who grew up as a fan of the team his father Craig played for.

“It’s a team I grew up cheering for and loving,” Simpson said. “It’s a little bit surreal for me. It’s been a goal of mine for a long time now to sign this first contract and it’s a great opportunity but I think more than anything, I’m excited that it’s a team that I’m familiar with and that I’ve been a huge fan of my entire life.”

The Edmonton native was taken in the fourth round, 92nd overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. 2011 was also Simpson’s freshman year at the University of North Dakota. Flash forward to today and Simpson says he is excited to begin his professional career after he closed out a successful four-year college run.

“It’s something you work towards, even as a little kid,” Simpson said. “It’s everyone’s dream to sign that first contract. For me, it’s just a really exciting time. It’s something I kind of had in the back of my mind this year in college and something I’ve really looked forward to so it’s nice to get that done and look ahead moving forward here.”

Simpson captained UND to the Frozen Four this year after he saw his team start the season 4-7-2. They lost to Minnesota 2-1 in the semifinals on a shorthanded goal at 19:59 of the third period.

“It was a very tough way to end the season. I didn’t prefer to end a college career like that. But the game, I thought it was probably one of our best efforts of the year and I’m really proud of how our team played. We came prepared for that game, battled for the puck and that happens that way in hockey but obviously not the finish we wanted but I’m still really proud of the group of guys.”

Photo provided by UND Athletics/Eric Classen

Simpson, 21, finished his collegiate career scoring 75 points (16-59-75) in 156 games. This season, he led the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in blocked shots (109) and earned All-Conference honours.

“It’s been a great learning experience,” Simpson said of his time at UND. “With the type of guys that I’ve been able to play with and the coaching staff I’ve been able to work with, it’s been for me both on the ice and off the ice. You come to a place like North Dakota and they do nothing for you but try to help you with your hockey career and I have nothing but great things to say about the people that I played with in (those years) that have helped this come true.”

The 6’2’’, 197-pound blueliner will not join the Oklahoma City Barons in their playoff run. He will instead stay at UND and finish what he started.

“We talked about it. If my season would have ended earlier, there might have been a different decision but I’m just going to stay in North Dakota and finish out my degree at UND.”

For the time being, Simpson’s professional career has been put on hold. However, the contract has been signed and that was the first step.

“It’s kind of nice to get it done. You’re going to be a part of the organization and you’re going to have the opportunity to start your pro career with them. For me, it’s nice to know the real work begins now and it’s just nice to know it’s going to be with the Edmonton Oilers organization. I don’t have to sit and twiddle my thumbs and worry about it anymore.”

Simpson now looks towards his future with the organization, hoping to provide the leadership qualities he developed at UND as well as provide the club with an efficient and solid defender.

“I might not be the flashiest player but I pride myself on my hockey sense and making smart decisions,” Simpson said. “Moving forward, there’s still parts of my game that need developing. I know that and the organization knows that but for me, more than anything, I need to play a sound and efficient game.”

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