Chase Priskie has had one heck of a season. In his senior season at Quinnipiac, Priskie leads all NCAA defensemen with 17 goals. He has 39 total points in 34 games and has been named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker award, awarded annually to the top NCAA men’s hockey player in the nation.
As a second-year captain, he is the unquestioned leader of Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are ranked seventh in the nation after a 25-9-2 season and will vie for a national championship.
Despite what he has managed to accomplish this season, however, it is what he plans to do afterward that everyone wants to know.
Priskie was drafted by the Capitals in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. After competing in college for four years, he has a choice to make after the season. As the Caps drafted him, they are the only team that can sign him until Aug. 15 when he becomes a free agent and can sign with whatever team he chooses.
But while everyone else is thinking about his NHL future, Priskie may be the only one who is not.
“Honestly, I've told my family advisor that I don't want to have to worry about any of that right now,” Priskie told NBC Sports Washington. “Right now, I'm focused on the 26 guys we have in our locker room and coming out next Friday and winning that game and trying to string together four consecutive wins and bring home a national title for our school. And I'm a big believer of everything happens for a reason so I haven't thought about that yet and I'll address it when the time comes, but until then I'm really just focused on playing my best hockey for Quinnipiac.”
The choice will ultimately not be an easy one to make.
Washington took a chance on Priskie drafting him in the sixth round. The team also tried to sign him after last season, and while he originally intended to sign, he ultimately elected to stay in school in order to leave “more of a legacy at this program.”
Having said that, Washington has a logjam of defensive prospects with Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Tobias Geisser, Alex Alexeyev and Martin Fehervary, among others. Other teams could offer Priskie a clearer path to the NHL.
The Caps also have already reached their limit of 50 contracts. They can still sign Priskie to an entry-level deal before Aug. 15, but it would have to be for the 2019-20 season, similar to what they did with the newly signed Joe Snively out of Yale. That means he could not be a late addition to the roster for this year’s playoff run as we saw with Shane Gersich last season.
But it does not appear that making the NHL immediately out of college is a major goal for Priskie, and he is willing to wait to compete for a spot next season.
“My dream is to play in the NHL and I feel like I've given myself every advantage to achieve that goal,” he said. “I think with the right motivation this summer, having a good summer, good training, I'm going to go into training camp and try to earn a roster spot.”
It is easy to jump to the conclusion that if Priskie is not sure what he intends to do by this point, then at the very least he must be considering spurning the Caps and going to free agency. But Priskie does not sound like someone who has made up his mind. He sounds like a 23-year-old who does not know what he wants to do beyond winning a national title at Quinnipiac.
And so here we stand with Aug. 15 looming and still no closer to a decision.
“I really told [my family advisors] just to not have it worry me because we've got enough going on with Quinnipiac right now and just trying to win a National Championship and I'm going to cross that bridge when I get there. I'm kind of in the dark as well, I don't want anything to do with it and anything to be hindering myself from being able to put the best product on the ice come next Friday in the tournament.”
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