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Drew O’Connor’s big summer: new contract, graduating college

Big moves happening for the Pens forward

NHL: APR 06 Wild at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was a big summer for Drew O’Connor that started off by representing Team USA at the World Championships (and being among the highest-scoring players on the team). He also celebrated his 25th birthday in June and signed a two-year contract with the Penguins to pay him a total of $1.85 million in August. But those achievement pale in comparison to earning a degree from an Ivy League school, which he also found the time to do.

“I was hoping I could have a good college career and see after that, but I didn’t really have plans of leaving school early and playing in the NHL,” said O’Connor. “When I got here, it was a really competitive atmosphere and I was pushed every day, which really helped me develop.”

O’Connor takes a lot of pride in his development at Dartmouth.

“This was the place I really wanted to go to school,” said the native of Chatham, N.J. “When I came here, I committed right on my visit. It definitely ended up meeting, and exceeding, all my expectations.”

What’s also awesome is the foothold O’Connor has made at the National Hockey League level. During the 2020-21 season, he played 20 games in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, posting seven goals and 12 assists. He also played 10 NHL games for Pittsburgh, tallying an assist.

O’Connor then split time between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh each of the last two seasons, including playing 46 of his 66 games in the NHL for the Penguins in 2022-23.

“Wherever I was the last few years, whether it was in Wilkes-Barre or Pittsburgh, I tried to continue to focus on my development and work on the little things every day,” said O’Connor. “The biggest thing this year was gaining a bit more confidence in games. That carried over, and I’m looking to build off that.”

It’s an interesting article that detailed how O’Connor had to continue his Penguin-mandated summer training while on campus and leaned back on the athletic department as he worked to complete his degree.

O’Connor turned pro in spring 2020 after his sophomore season, and while working up the ranks in pro hockey, he’s also now finished off his studies as well. The future looks bright for O’Connor and in or out of hockey he’s got a great degree in his back pocket for the road ahead.