UDPATED WITH SCOUTING REPORTS
The Wild has dipped into the college free-agent market again.
Six days after signing University of New Hampshire forward Grayson Downing to a two-year, entry-level contract, the Wild has signed Minnesota State senior defenseman Zach Palmquist and University of Vermont junior goaltender Brody Hoffman to one-year deals.
Because both players are 24, the one year is the max term for an entry-level deal. They'll be restricted free agents in the summer of 2016.
Palmquist impressed during last year's Wild development camp as an invitee.
The 6-foot Palmquist, a native of South St. Paul, served as an alternate captain this past season and tied for fourth on the Mavericks with 29 points (eight goals). In four years in Mankato, Palmquist didn't miss a single game. He set a school record by playing 160 consecutive games, scoring 96 points and 109 penalty minutes. He tied for first in defensemen scoring in Maverick history (since the Mavs became a Division-I school in 1996-7). Palmquist was named to the All-WCHA First Team in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and a WCHA All-Academic selection in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Prior to playing at Minnesota State, he collected 57 points (13-44--57) in 124 games during parts of three seasons with Waterloo (USHL, 2008-11). Palmquist played at South St. Paul High School and was a finalist for the 2009 Mr. Hockey Award. He will report to the Iowa Wild on an amateur tryout for the remainder of this season.
From Wild scout Brian Hunter: Puck moving D who plays a smart game, will get up in the play offensively to join the rush, competes in all 3 zones, very good skater, with a smooth, long stride. His style and skating allows him to play big minutes like he did at MSU.
The Wild loves Hoffman's 6-foot-4 frame, and I think we're starting to see the Wild believe in what is becoming a leaguewide trend of big goalies. Heck, look at Devan Dubnyk.
Hoffman went 13-6-2 in 22 games this past season. He ranked 18th in the NCAA with a 2.06 goals-against average and tied for 29th with a .922 save percentage. He was 34-33-9 in three years there with a 2.45 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.
The native of Wilkie, Saskatchewan, was recently the NCAA First Star of the Week in part for helping the Catamounts upset Boston College in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. Hoffman will not be playing for Iowa this season.
Hunter: Obviously can't teach size at 6'4. Decent puck handler, He tracks the puck well, plays quiet in goal, doesn't get too swimmy, but is athletic enough to have the ability to scramble if needed. But his strengths are cutting angles down, controlling or swallowing up rebounds and using big frame to be a blocker.
The Wild is trying to influx more goalie prospects into the organization.
Darcy Kuemper can not play minor-league games without going through waivers.
Iowa goalie Johan Gustafsson, 23, who once backstopped Sweden to a gold medal at the world junior championships, is a restricted free agent this summer and has yet to play an NHL game. He is 8-20-1 this season with a 3.41 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. Last year as a first-year North American pro, he went 12-20-4 with a 2.98 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
Fellow Iowa veteran goalie John Curry is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Draft picks Stephen Michalek, Alexandre Belanger and Kaapo Kahkonen are currently unsigned.