University of Maine sophomore defenseman Brady Keeper has signed a free-agent contract with the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers, according to a source close to the program.
Keeper was the Black Bears third-leading scorer this season with 22 points on seven goals and 15 assists. Five of his goals and 11 of his assists came during UMaine’s 24 Hockey East regular-season games.
He played on the power-play and penalty-killing units, and was one of the Black Bears’ top point-producers on the power play with two goals and six assists.
Keeper also was among the team leaders in game-winning points with six (1 goal, 5 assists).
He amassed a team-high 58 penalty minutes in 36 games but had only 26 in 24 Hockey East regular-season games.
The 6-foot, 195-pound native of Cross Lake, Manitoba, was scheduled to fly to Dallas to join the Panthers for Tuesday night’s game against the Stars.
Keeper scored UMaine’s only goal in Friday night’s 2-1 overtime loss to Northeastern in their best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series against Northeastern.
Keeper, an exceptional skater with an NHL-caliber shot, tallied two goals and three assists in his past five games with UMaine.
This was the second straight year he led the Black Bear defense corps in scoring. He registered 22 points on six goals and 16 assists as a freshman.
Keeper will join former UMaine All-American defenseman Jack Capuano in Florida.
Capuano, the former New York Islanders head coach, is an assistant with the Panthers.
Prior to attending UMaine, Keeper racked up 52 goals and 81 assists in 160 games over three seasons with the OCN Blizzard in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.