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DEREK VAN DIEST

, Last Updated: 6:58 AM ET

ST. PAUL -- Chris Vande Velde has a decision to make.

The Edmonton Oilers fifth pick -- 97th overall -- in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft has one year of college eligibility left at the University of North Dakota.

If he decides to turn pro and sign with the Oilers this summer, the six-foot-two, 206-pound centre would have to forego his education.

"That's a decision I'm going to have to make, I guess," Vande Velde said.

"They (Oilers) want me to come out early. I've talked to (assistant GM) Kevin Pendergast and my agent and I know they would be happy to have me in their system next year."

Yesterday, Vande Velde and the Fighting Sioux lost the third-place game 4-1 to the Wisconsin Badgers at the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Final Five tournament taking place at the Xcel Energy Center.

With the Oilers in town to play the Minnesota Wild today, there was plenty of brass on hand to check in on their prospect.

"I knew that a few guys would be here watching," Vande Velde said. "It's unfortunate that we didn't play well, but hopefully we can regroup."

North Dakota lost 3-0 to the University of Minnesota Duluth in the semifinals on Friday, while the University of Denver defeated Wisconsin 3-0 in the other semifinal.

Heading into the tournament, Vande Velde, a native of Moorhead, Minnesota, had 16 goals and 17 assists in 41 games this season.

"We started off a little slow this year," Vande Velde.

"We started off below .500. But as the year went along as a team and I, we both picked up our play.

"I started to pick up goals and points and I had a solid second half of the year."


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