A former Vernon Viper who put up gaudy numbers in college has now signed a contract with the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
Odeen Tufto, captain of Quinnipiac University Bobcats, has signed an entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The undrafted forward will report to the Syracuse Crunch of the pro-level American Hockey League — the feeder league to the NHL.
Tufto spent his 2015-16 season in the B.C. Hockey League with the Vipers, where he led the team with 25 goals, 40 assists and 65 points.
He put up at least 38 points in all four of his college seasons, but his senior year was his most impressive; he finished the 2021 season second in scoring in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was named the eastern conference’s hockey player of the year and was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the best player in college hockey.
He finished his college career with 168 points in 139 games.
Tufto, 24, will now have to battle his way up an NHL depth chart. However, he could have a better chance of cracking the Lightning roster as Tampa Bay has a thinner prospect pool than most other teams given their recent regular-season success, which has led to fewer high draft picks.