From Dino to Duck: Former U SPORTS Defenceman Signs with NHL’s Anaheim Ducks

Toronto,ON- Like any other hockey player, the goal from day one is to make it pro and after spending the last two years in Sweden, Kodie Curran can do just that at the Honda Center. On Monday morning, the Anaheim Ducks announced that they have locked up the Canadian defensemen.

As per the official press release, it’s a two-year, one-way deal worth a total salary of $2 million. According to CapFriendly.com, the agreement also includes an AAV worth a base of $1 million.

Curran has spent the last four years between stints out in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, all this coming after spending two seasons between the ECHL and the American Hockey League.

Kodie Curran | January 8, 2016: Hartford Wolf Pack vs. Sprin… | Flickr
Curran with Hartford (Hartford Wolf Pack)

Making the jump pro from U SPORTS, Curran would start his career with the University of Calgary Dinos. It was there where he spent five seasons on Canadian soil in the city he called home. While he by no means led the Dinos offensively, Curran saw a strong senior season where he scored eight goals along with 16 assists. While bringing his studies to a close, the left-handed shooter totalled 24 points.

Fast forward to the next chapter of his life, Curran joined the Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. During his time in Connecticut, he played 20 games, split between two seasons. It wasn’t long after that Curran was demoted to the ECHL where in 45 games, he scored seven goals and eighteen assists for 25 points.

Knowing his capabilities were worth more, Curran took his talents overseas where he landed in Denmark with Esbjerg Energy. There, he recorded 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points. This was only the start of an upwards trend for the 6’2 defensemen.

Curran would then spend the next season in Northern Europe while playing with Norway. There, he was quickly named captain, thus leading Storhamar through 38 games. During that stint, he would score 12 goals and 32 assists for 44 points. Seeing time with Norway and Denmark, Kodie Curran helped both teams en route to the playoffs. He led both teams to championships in back-to-back years through 32 games.

Curran, SHL MVP, signs two-year contract with Ducks
Curran with Rögle BK (SHL)

With that success in the rear mirror, Curran moved once more, joining Rögle BK. Having now completed two seasons with them, the veteran scored 24 goals and 62 assists for 86 points. For this, Kodie Curran, 30, was named MVP by the Swedish Hockey League. Now in the NHL, this honour has been previously awarded to Peter Forsberg, Henrik Lundqvist and Derek Ryan.

Similar to his numbers in Norway, Curran recorded 12 goals and 37 assists for 49 points. Not only did these numbers lead all blue-liners, but as per Brandon Maron of TheScore.com, his 49 points were the second most in the league. Seeing his unwavering success, his work on the ice also led him to being named by the league as defensemen of the year. Unfortunately, his best season to date had been suddenly stopped due to COVID-19.

David Moll/University of Calgary Athletics

Taking a look at what Curran offers, he has been referred to by local news out in Norway as a terrific passer while also a puck handler. It is also noted, however, that the Calgary native can play a risky game. Speaking of which, he’s also been pegged as a power play option while on the defensive end, has been noted as a good hitter.

Discussing his achievements on Tuesday, former teammate on the Dinos, Brock Nixon, said in a statement to The Canadian Press, “Kodie was always an extremely talented defenceman. It was just a matter of him kind of putting his all-around game together that would determine how far he could go.”

Curran joins Jani Hakanpää, Christian Djoos and Sam Carrick signing contracts with Anaheim. As well, on the Ducks defensive end, he joins Brendan Guhle who signed a two-year contract. According to Armand Klisivitch of ThePuckAuthority.com, Anaheim currently has eight left-handed shooting defensemen between their NHL squad and the San Diego Gulls respectively. In knowing that, two of those players have contracts expiring at the end of this season.

UCalgary Dinos Men's Hockey 🏒 on Twitter: "🇸🇪 M-V-P ...
Curran in his Dinos days (University of Calgary Athletics)

Taking things back to his Dinos days, Curran compiled 89 points through 96 games played while in Canada West. While that was just regular season, Curran later helped the Dinos to the national championship in 2011. This would be the school’s first appearance in the U SPORTS Final in more than a decade.

Because of his on-ice leadership, Curran, in his last two seasons, was a conference all-star while in Canada West. Learning of his signing on Tuesday, Dinos head coach Mark Howell told The Canadian Press, “He has worked extremely hard these past few years to realize his dream of playing in the NHL. The Anaheim Ducks are getting a terrific defensemen.”

Curran was one of Howell’s first additions with the Calgary Dinos back in 2010. Speaking of his Canadian roots, Curran has also played for Team Canada at the Spengler Cup back in 2018. While this opportunity speaks volumes, Brock Nixon said of Curran’s rise to pro hockey, “It was obvious as he advanced to higher calibre leagues and played with top end players. His game kept excelling and that only happens to guys who can think the game at an elite level.”

While Derek Ryan was mentioned earlier, the Calgary centreman took a similar path, graduating from U SPORTS, now playing with the Flames. Same goes for Bracken Kearns who played for the Panthers, Sharks and New York Islanders. He did over 35 games between 2011 and 2017.

(David Moll/University of Calgary Athletics)

As Curran looks to start his next chapter, the last U SPORTS player to sign in the NHL was Luke Philp who was signed by the Flames. Much like the 30-year-old defensemen, Philp spent five years with the Calgary Dinos. Speaking of the University of Calgary, former Dinos who have played in the NHL include Dallas GM and former winger Jim Nill.

Anaheim ended the season recording a total of 67 points, but with that, did not find themselves qualifying for the NHL playoffs in the 24-team format. Looking for more success moving forward, Anaheim ended the season in 13th place in the league’s Western Conference.

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