GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Former UND defenseman Matt Kiersted has signed a free agent deal with the Florida Panthers, the club announced Thursday. He becomes the second free agent signing this week, following Jordan Kawaguchi signing with the Dallas Stars organization, and the third to ink a pro deal with Ottawa Senators draft pick Jacob Bernard-Docker heading to the NHL.
Kiersted was an All-NCHC First Teamer as a senior. A two-time assistant captain, the Elk River, Minn., product finished his senior season with 22 points (3-19–22). That assist total tied for second-most in the country among defensemen. His 52 blocked shots were second most in the NCHC and in the top 10 nationally.
As a junior, Kiersted was an All-NCHC Second Teamer, finishing as an NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year finalist. He was the co-winner of the UND Coaches’ Unsung Hero Award, tallying six goals and 23 assists for 29 points, second-most on the team. His 29 points ranked third in the NCHC among defensemen, 11th in the country. Kiersted recorded 15 of those points on the power play (2-13–15) and he was a +22 rating on the year, second-best in the conference and tied for ninth in the NCAA. In his final two season, Kiersted was a +37 rating combined.
Kiersted was a stalwart on the top defensive pairing for North Dakota, helping the Fighting Hawks lead the NCAA in goal margin this season (+57) leading the country in goals for (3.93/game) while ranking fourth in goals against (1.97/gm).