By: Matt Rothman
Parkland native Andrew Peeke has officially signed a professional contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In the final weeks of the 2018-2019, the Blue Jackets announced that they had signed Peeke to a three-year deal. Peeke, who currently attends Notre Dame University, will skip his senior season in preparation of playing in the NHL.
“It’s great to be an NHL player and breaking the stereotype of being a hockey player from Florida,” said Peeke. “I have worked really hard to get to this point and I thank my parents for supporting me along the way.”
Peeke hopes to become just the 13th player in NHL history from Florida to play in the NHL. Growing up as a die-hard Panthers fan, Peeke’s family has held season tickets since their inaugural year in 1993.
He played competitive hockey for the Florida Panthers youth affiliate, the Junior Panthers. With no winter in Florida, he mostly spent his time practicing at the Panthers Ice Den.
At the age of 14, hoping to cement himself as an NHL prospect, Peeke moved to Connecticut to play for the Selects Hockey Academy. He was later drafted in the second round of the 2014 USHL draft to the Green Bay Gamblers after being named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 in the USHL.
Peeke went on to play for Notre Dame for three seasons. He played in at least 39 games registering 12 goals and 40 points from the back line as a defenseman.
“Andrew has developed into an excellent two-way defenseman,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “His solid defensive game and sound decision-making with the puck made him one of the best blueliners in college hockey.”
For the final days regular season, Peeke practiced with the Blue Jackets before they went on to Tampa Bay for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He has yet to appear in a game as he has been scratched for all four of the Blue Jackets games versus the Lightning, but remains on the roster for round two.
With the off-season approaching, Peeke has no plans on taking a summer off.
“One thing I want to work on is my skating and my shot. If you look around the league, everybody has a really good shot and that’s what I am mostly going to try and improve on.”
Peeke will go into next year as a prime candidate to make the team with the impending free agents on the Blue Jackets roster. He will get an opportunity to play in his first preseason which begins in September.