Former Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Dylan Samberg has taken the ice for the Winnipeg Jets against the Detroit Red Wings tonight in his first game as a National Hockey League player.
Earlier this week, he was recalled to the Jets taxi squad, then added to the active roster due to an increasing number of Winnipeg players testing positive for the coronavirus. With Samberg’s appearance this evening, he joins Tom Novak (Nashville Predators) and Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes) among Waterloo alumni who have made their NHL debuts this winter. It’s the most since the 2018/19 season when five former Hawks celebrated the milestone. In total, a record 15 Hawks alums have skated in at least on NHL game this winter.
Samberg was a Black Hawk during the 2016/17 season. He came to Waterloo after scoring the winning goal in overtime for Hermantown High School during the 2017 Minnesota 1A Championship Game. Although his time as a Black Hawk was brief, Samberg made an impact. During six regular season games, he notched a goal, an assist, and was +2. He took the ice for eight playoff games, helping Waterloo to a three-game sweep of the Fargo Force before a five-game Western Conference Final series loss to the Sioux City Musketeers. Samberg was in the lineup for all eight postseason contests, tallying a goal and two assists and producing a team-best +3 plus/minus differential.
Just more than a month after the postseason ended, the Winnipeg Jets chose Samberg during the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
He would go on to win back-to-back NCAA championships with the University of Minnesota-Duluth the next two seasons, skating with fellow Hawks alumni Mikey Anderson, Peter Krieger, Nick Swaney, Jackson Cates, and Hunter Lellig on those squads. Anderson (L.A. Kings) and Cates (Philadelphia Flyers) have also reached the NHL, while Swaney is currently under contract with the Minnesota Wild.
Samberg signed with Winnipeg after the coronavirus pandemic shortened his junior season at UMD. Through 48 career professional games as a member of the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ American Hockey League affiliate, Samberg has one goal, 11 assists, and a +10 mark.
He is the first former Black Hawk to ever appear in an NHL regular season game as a member of the Jets.