Seth Helgeson came in with a small class of four, including forward Zach Budish who took a medical redshirt year and dropped back a year. Two others left before this season.

But Helgeson leaves as the lone senior on this season's team. And he is headed for a place he wanted to reach.

Helgeson, an  alternate captain, has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League (AHL), according to a U of M news release.

Albany is the AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, who drafted Helgeson in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (114th overall).

“I have had four great seasons at the University of Minnesota, and it is a somewhat bittersweet to be moving on,” Helgeson said in the same release. “Wearing the Minnesota jersey was a dream come true for me – one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. At the same time, I am excited to be taking the next step in my career.”

Helgeson was one of the biggest, 6-4, 215. and most durable Gophers.

Helgeson played in 150 games over his career and had 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists). The Faribault, Minn., native played every game of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons and finished with a streak of 122 consecutive games.

“Seth had a great career here at Minnesota, winning two MacNaughton Cups as an upperclassmen,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “He has been a great program guy, a leader on and off the ice, and I’m very happy for him.”

A physical defenseman, Helgeson played in 31 games with a goal as a freshman in 2009-10 and upped his offensive production to six assists and seven points as a sophomore. In 2011-12, Helgeson doubled his offensive production from the previous year with 14 points (five goals, nine assists) for his most productive season offensively as the Gophers  returned to the NCAA Frozen Four for the 20th time in program history and the first time since 2005.

Helgeson played on the WCHA’s top defense and had five assists as a senior. He led Minnesota in penalties and penalty minutes in each of the past three seasons.

He had 27 penalties, 26 of them minors, for 62 minutes, nearly twice as many penalties as the next highest Gopher.

Best story I remember about Helgeson is from his freshman season.

The Gophers were playign North Dakota at The Ralph in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The game is near the end and Helgeson scores on a long shot with 7:02 to play in the third period. The goal proves to be the game-winner in a 4-2 win.

It is his first and only goal of the season. Helgeson just smiles all through his postgame interviews. He is so pleased.