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UND’s Grimaldi mulling future

David Samson / Forum News Service UND’s Rocco Grimaldi is expected to decide soon whether to return to Grand Forks next season or sign with the Florida Panthers of the NHL.

UND will soon know whether its leading scorer is coming back for next season.

Sophomore forward Rocco Grimaldi says he wants to decide before the end of the school year whether he will return for his junior year or if he will sign with the Florida Panthers.

UND’s spring session ends in two-and-a-half weeks.

Grimaldi led UND in both goals (17) and points (39) this season, scoring five more goals than anyone else on the team and registering nine more points than anyone. He was named the MVP of the Midwest Regional.

If he returns, it would give UND’s skill level a big boost for next season. But Florida is likely trying to get him signed, because if he returns for another year, he could have the option of becoming a free agent in the future.

UND has already received pledges to return from sophomore defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, sophomore goaltender Zane Gothberg and junior forward Michael Parks.

The last time UND had an offseason where nobody turned pro early was 2010. Since 1999, there have only been two offseasons where no UND player turned pro early — 2009 and 2010.

Grimaldi has 77 points in 86 career games at UND. He was selected in the second round by the Panthers during the 2011 NHL Draft in St. Paul.

The native of suburban Los Angeles has previously attended Florida Panthers development camps in the summer.