Merrimack's Da Costa Signs with Ottawa
CHN Staff Report
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. Merrimack forward Stephane Da Costa, considered the top undrafted free agent in college hockey by some publications, has signed an NHL entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators, officially giving up his remaining two years of NCAA eligibility.
Da Costa is expected to be in Ottawa's lineup Saturday, and would become the first Merrimack player to play in the NHL since Matt Foy in 2007-08.
In two seasons at Merrimack, Da Costa scored 90 points in 67 games, leading Merrimack’s transformation to the top of Hockey East and a top-10 national ranking. This season, he was second in Hockey East in points per game, while earning All-New England and second-team Hockey East honors.
“We are proud of and excited for Stephane,” said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy, recently named CHN's co-Coach of the Year for 2010-11. “He is a special player, but just as important a special person who had a huge effect on our program, the College and the community.”
Ottawa has an abundance of college players on its current NHL roster, including numerous four-year college players. They include Bobby Butler (New Hampshire), Colin Greening (Cornell), Erik Condra (Notre Dame), David Hale (North Dakota), Brian Lee (North Dakota), Curtis McElhinney (Colorado College), Ryan Shannon (Boston College), Patrick Wiercioch (Denver) and Jesse Winchester (Colgate).
As a freshman, Da Costa burst on the scene in his second game, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to get a natural hat trick and score five goals as part of his first career goal. Leading the country in scoring among rookies with 45 points, he led the Warriors to the playoffs for the first time since 2004, earning NCAA, Hockey East and CHN Rookie of the Year honors.
Da Costa played in the 2010 IIHF World Championships for his native France last summer, tying for his country’s lead in scoring.
This season, Da Costa anchored Merrimack’s best team in its Division I history, picking up 31 assists and 45 points, as Merrimack won a school-record 25 games, advanced to its first-ever Hockey East Championship, and was selected to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since joining Hockey East.
Da Costa attracted NHL general managers and top scouts to Merrimack games all season and was hailed as the top undrafted college free agent by TSN and the Hockey News.
Da Costa will become the sixth player from France to play in the NHL joining Cristobal Huet (2003-10), Philippe Bozon (1992-95), Paul MacLean (1981-91), Pat Daley (1980-81), and Andrew Peloffy (1975).