HOUSTON, Texas – The American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros have signed first-round pick A.J. Thelen to an amateur tryout, the team announced Wednesday. The defenseman, Minnesota’s pick (12th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, is expected to join the Aeros in Omaha today and will wear No. 6.
Thelen, 20 (3/11/86), totaled 36 points (13-23=36) and 79 penalty minutes in 72 games this season with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League. He played the previous two seasons at Michigan State University, notching 40 points (11-29=40) and 98 penalty minutes in 75 games. In his freshman season in 2003-04, Thelen posted 29 points (11-18=29) to rank tied for fifth in the nation in scoring among defensemen. Thelen was named to the 2004 All-American Second Team as a freshman, the CCHA All-Rookie Team and the All-CCHA Second Team, and he also received the CCHA’s Best Offensive Defenseman Award. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound blueliner is a native of Savage, Minn.
Thelen was the first-ever defenseman picked in the first round by the Minnesota Wild. He becomes the fourth Wild first-rounder to play with the Aeros, joining Mikko Koivu (2001), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (2002) and Brent Burns (2003).