Boston Bruins land Gophers forward Jaxon Nelson with a one-year deal

Boston Bruins land Gophers forward Jaxon Nelson with a one-year deal

The good-sized center from small town southwestern Minnesota had 11 goals in his final eight college games, and is expected to head to Boston’s AHL team in Providence to finish this season.

More than good: Jaxon Nelson still making Magnolia proud as a Gopher hockey  player - The Globe | News, weather, sports from Worthington, Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS — In the Minnesota Twins’ run to the 1991 World Series title, Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett famously told his teammates, “Jump on my back. I’m driving the bus tonight.”

Jaxon Nelson is a generally soft-spoken person, not prone to big, rousing speeches in the locker room. But in the last month of his college hockey career, the sizable center from small town southwestern Minnesota clearly drove the Gophers’ bus for long stretches.

He will be taking a plane, not a bus to his next destination, having signed a one-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Boston Bruins on Monday. He is expected to report to the team’s AHL affiliate in Providence.

“Jaxon is a big, right shot, two-way center with leadership qualities as captain of a very successful collegiate program,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, in a statement released by the team. “He has shown consistent growth throughout his time at the University of Minnesota and the Bruins are excited to have Jaxon join our organization.”

In his final eight games in a Gophers uniform, Nelson posted 11 goals and 13 points, earning a spot on the regional’s all-tournament team. In 169 career games over five seasons in a Gophers uniform, he had 42 goals and 47 assists and earned a reputation as a faceoff specialist.

“How about the way he played in the last month, month-and-a-half of the season,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko asked, rhetorically, after Minnesota’s 6-3 loss to Boston University in the Sioux Falls Regional title game. “He really put the team on his back. It was fun to be around.”

He will see a few familiar Big Ten faces in Providence, where former Ohio State standout Georgii Merkulov is the leading scorer and former Notre Dame goalie Ryan Bischel recently signed as a free agent as well.

Undrafted, Nelson turned 24 on the day of his final college game. He participated in development camp with the Washington Capitals in the summer of 2022.

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