EVERETT — There’s no doubt anymore. Everett Silvertips captain Bryce Kindopp and defenseman Jake Christiansen are professional hockey players.
The two overagers signed NHL entry-level contracts as undrafted free agents this week. Kindopp signed with the Anaheim Ducks and Christiansen signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
CapFriendly.com first reported Kindopp’s signing as well as the details of his contract.
“It’s still going to take a couple of days to sink in I think,” Kindopp said. “I’ve been playing with a chip on my shoulder ever since (being passed over). I’m just thankful for the opportunity I’ve had in Everett and it’s just honestly such a special feeling.”
Can confirm Bryce Kindopp signed an ELC with the Anaheim Ducks.
Well-earned for the Tips captain, who is just 4 goals away from tying the franchise’s career goal record and has 38 this season.
Potted a team-high 39 last year. Always been well-regraded for defensive play, too. https://t.co/4ybnOBDVpG
— Josh Horton (@JoshHortonEDH) March 4, 2020
The terms of Christiansen’s deal were not immediately disclosed, but he join the same organization as former Silvertip rearguard Ryan Murray, who the Blue Jackets drafted No. 2 overall in the 2012 NHL draft.
March 1 is typically when undrafted free agents start to sign with NHL teams. It’s the first day on the hockey calendar that entry-level contracts don’t count against the current season’s salary cap.
The development of both into NHL prospects was not sudden.
Neither were drafted in their three years of draft eligibility and outside of Kindopp being ranked as a fringe draft pick by NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings in 2019, neither were much on the radar.
“It can go one of two ways,” Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams said. “You can feel sorry for yourself and feel like you should have been drafted. But these guys, they came to the rink everyday and I’m not sure they used it as motivation, but I’m sure it was in the back of their head that they wanted to prove everyone wrong. Everyone wants to be drafted, I understand that part of it, but for these guys to do what they’ve done here, I think it’s what it’s all about. I think this is a pretty special week here for the Everett Silvertips and to have two guys after this year go out and pursue their dream and play pro hockey, I think it’s great.”
After not making the Silvertips’ roster as a 16-year-old, Kindopp was mostly a bottom-six contributor as a 17-year-old.
Kindopp experienced a breakout season during the Silvertips’ run to the Western Conference finals in 2017-2018 with 24 goals, and followed that up with a team-high 39 goals as a 19-year-old.
The Lloydminster, Alberta, native was ranked by NHL Central Scouting, but was passed over in the 2019 NHL draft, his final year of draft eligibility. But Kindopp participated in a development camp and training camp with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche over the summer. Anaheim likely got a good look at him when he played with the Avalanche at the annual preseason prospect tournament hosted by the Ducks in August in Anaheim.
In his overage season, Kindopp has 38 goals and 33 assists. He is four goals away from tying Patrick Bajkov’s franchise record of 112 career goals.
Christiansen has been a stalwart in Everett’s lineup since his 16-year-old season, but never garnered much NHL draft attention. The West Vancouver, British Columbia, native picked up some notoriety after attending the St. Louis Blues’ training camp this season and parlayed that into a professional tryout with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League.
Christiansen didn’t sign and was reassigned to Everett, where he’s exploded since returning to the WHL, with 20 goals and 47 points in 35 games. His 20 goals are the most of any defenseman in the WHL, despite playing 25 fewer games than the player with the second-most, Lethbridge’s Alex Cotton.
“I came back from the (AHL) and I wanted to sign an NHL deal,” Christiansen said. “It feels really good, but the work just start now.”
Both Kindopp and Christiansen had a number of suitors for their services, according to Everett general manager Garry Davidson, and could choose the best situation for themselves.
Christiansen chose Columbus for his affinity for their development chops.
“We talked about a development plan and stuff,” Christiansen said. “I built a little bit of a relationship with some (Blue Jackets employees), got to know them a little bit and it just felt right. At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut feeling.”
Kindopp wasn’t quite as selective with his process as Christiansen.
“My agent was just trying to let me play and not get in my head,” Kindopp said. “After the game on Sunday, I got called back to Garry’s office and an Anaheim guy was there and he said that your agent accepted an offer. It was one of the coolest feelings in my life. I know my agent and he’s been really good to me and he knows what’s good for me.
“I know he knew about the contract and if it would be good for me. I couldn’t care less where I was going. I’m just happy for the opportunity.”
The signings of Kindopp and Christiansen give Everett six players whose rights are held by NHL teams. They join Wyatte Wylie (Philadelphia Flyers), Gianni Fairbrother (Montreal Canadiens), Cole Fonstad (Canadiens) and Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames).
Christiansen and Kindopp are also two of five players Everett drafted in the 2014 bantam class that have either been signed or drafted by NHL teams, joining Wylie, Connor Dewar and Riley Sutter, who are playing in the AHL for the Iowa Wild and Hershey Bears, respectively. All five of those players were taken in the third-through-sixth rounds.
“I was just thinking about that,” Davidson said. “That’s a pretty good class, the (1999-born) class. We’ve talked about that draft being a pretty good draft at the WHL level, but it’s turned into a great group at the next level.”
Also, four Silvertips — forwards Gage Goncalves and Michal Gut, and defenseman Ronan Seeley and Kasper Puutio — are all ranked by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau for the 2020 NHL draft.
Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @JoshHortonEDH