ALUMNI SHINE AT PREDS CAMP
Date: Jun 28, 2019
The Washington Capitals signed college defenseman Kristofers Bindulis to a three-year entry-level deal beginning next season, the team announced. Bindulis will join the organization’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, for the remainder of the season on a tryout agreement.
The Capitals also signed forward Hampus Gustafsson to a two-year, entry-level contract beginning with the 2017-18 season. He will also report to Hershey for the rest of the season.
Gustafsson, 23, scored 15 goals and 11 assists in 36 games with Merrimack College this season and led the team in goals, ranked second in points and fourth in assists. The Ljungby, Sweden, native is a nominee for the 2017 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the top NCAA men’s ice hockey player.
Bindulis, a 6-foot-3, 181-pound Latvian blue-liner attended the Capitals’ development camp last summer and impressed Washington enough for the organization to keep tabs on him. Bindulis, 21, had one goal and 11 assists in 28 games during his freshman season with Lake Superior State University.
“I really enjoyed my time over there,” Bindulis said of Washington’s development camp. “It’s a really high-level in the NHL. Everything was really professional and coaches were really professional. I enjoy my time being over there. … I’m humbled and grateful for the incredible opportunity that they gave me to become a professional hockey player.”
Bindulis has had a winding road to an NHL deal. He came to North America as a 17-year-old and joined the Soo Eagles in the North American Hockey League for the 2013-14 season. In his first campaign with them, he played in 52 games and scored 11 assists. The next year, after 28 games with Eagles, Bindulis joined the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, but with one goal and one assist in 30 games, things didn’t work out in that league and he returned to the NAHL the following season to play for the Aston Rebels.
With the Rebels, he was named the NAHL’s East Division most valuable player and defenseman of the year with 10 goals and 36 assists in 57 games. That helped Bindulis land his lone NCAA scholarship offer, with Lake Superior State, and he expressed his gratitude to the program for providing him an opportunity and helping develop his game.
“I was working really, really hard for this,” Bindulis said. “Me and my family have always been in hockey.”