The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Dryden McKay, the Minnesota State goaltender who won this year's Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA's top player, and then accepted a six-month ban for an anti-doping rule violation.
McKay, 24, agreed to a two-year contract with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
McKay was a college free agent after he wasn't selected in the NHL draft. He told ESPN during the Frozen Four that NHL teams haven't pursued him because he's 5-foot-11 at a time when goalies who physically fill the net are preferable. McKay played his final NCAA game for the Mavericks on April 9, losing 5-1 to Denver in the Frozen Four national championship game.
"Thank you to everyone in Mankato for an incredible four years. Memories and relationships that will last a lifetime. I will always be proud to be a Maverick. Excited for the next chapter," tweeted McKay, who had previously indicated that he would leave Minnesota State despite having one more year of eligibility.
The signing comes one week after McKay accepted a six-month ban from competition for an anti-doping rule violation, according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He will be eligible to voluntarily enter the Marlies' facilities on Aug. 25 and play for the team beginning Oct. 11.
McKay told ESPN that he was notified on Feb. 1 that a urine sample collected on Jan. 23 returned a positive test for ostarine, a muscle growth drug that's not approved by the FDA and is considered a banned substance by the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policy and the International Ice Hockey Federation Anti-Doping Regulations.
The amount was trillionths of a gram, which McKay said provided no direct performance benefit.
McKay suspected that the ostarine could have been sourced from one of the supplements he had been taking. He shipped them all to a lab for testing. He said ostarine was found in an allegedly "all-natural" Vitamin D3 immune booster he had been taking for 10 days during the COVID-19 omicron variant surge.
Because McKay was able to establish the source of the contamination, an arbitrator lifted his suspension on Feb. 3 until a final decision by USADA would be made. The NCAA and Minnesota State athletics were made aware of the situation. The NCAA made its own ruling that McKay was eligible to complete his senior season with the Mavericks, leading them to the school's first Division I men's hockey Frozen Four championship game appearance.
His Hobey Baker Award win also was upheld by the Hobey Baker Award Memorial Committee.
McKay ultimately accepted a six-month suspension from the USADA on the advice of his lawyer, Paul Greene.
"Typically the range [for a non-intentional ingestion] is somewhere between four to eight months or four to 10 months, depending on the situation," Greene told Sportsnet. "They offered him six months, which is in line with a lot of cases I've been involved with. He had a decision if he wanted to accept the six months or go forward to a hearing. We just decided it made the most sense to accept the six-month ban. Let the process start now that his season was over."
McKay was being drug tested after having been named an alternate player for the 2022 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team for the Beijing Games. McKay's services ended up not being needed.