Mason Morelli was one the Hershey Bears’ best players during their Calder Cup championship run.
Now, after five years toiling in the minors, the undrafted forward has earned his first NHL deal at age 27.
Morelli signed a two-year contract with the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights worth $775k per season. He will make the same amount in the pros or minors.
According to Darren Dreger, Morelli had multiple NHL offers.
NEWS: The Vegas Golden Knights have agreed to terms with Mason Geertsen and Mason Morelli on two-year contracts, respectively.
Welcome to the organization, guys! #VegasBorn
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) July 1, 2023
Morelli, a Minot, ND native, first put himself on the map in 2018-19 after a sensational senior year at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Morelli served as the team’s captain and registered 34 points in 36 NCAA games, including 19 goals. That was enough to get the attention of the Stockton Heat — the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate. During his first full season pro in 2019-20, Morelli split time between the Heat and the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks.
Congrats once again to Mason Morelli on pro goal #1! pic.twitter.com/Gy5K30Q4vG
— Calgary Wranglers (@AHLWranglers) April 11, 2019
The Hershey Bears would take a flyer on Morelli during the 2020 offseason and that’s where he would eventually go on to shine.
After splitting time between AHL Hershey and the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays in 2020-21, Morelli scored 12 goals in consecutive seasons with the Bears. He tallied a career high 41 points (12g, 29a) in 72 games during the 2022-23 campaign, earning him the Arlene Tighe Award as the Bears’ unsung hero.
This season's recipient of the Arlene Tighe Award, recognizing the Bears unsung hero, is Mason Morelli! pic.twitter.com/5KhgtykHUh
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) April 15, 2023
He made his biggest statement in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs where, as a member of the team’s dominant fourth line with Beck Malenstyn and Riley Sutter, Morelli had 13 points (5g, 8a) in 20 games. Morelli also had a spell on the Bears’ first line as rookie Ethen Frank struggled to score in the postseason.
Morelli played in all situations, including the power-play where he earned the primary assist on Connor McMichael’s Game Seven Calder Cup Finals goal.
Mikey gives us life…
🍏 Snively pic.twitter.com/4PKwoyuoMW
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) June 22, 2023
Morelli becomes the fifth 2023 Calder Cup champion Bears player to sign with a new team, joining Garrett Pilon, Shane Gersich, Henrik Borgstrom, and Zach Fucale out the door. The Capitals also did not tender qualifying offers to Gabriel Carlsson and Kody Clark.
Headline photo: Ian Oland/RMNB
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