Gophers Hockey: Minnesota signs five players during early signing period

Matt Christians - SB Nation

Forwards Leon Bristedt and Jack Ramsey and defensemen Ryan Collins, Jack Glover and Steven Johnson make up the Gophers' 2014-15 freshmen class.

The University of Minnesota men's hockey team announced Wednesday that five players have signed National Letters of Intent for next season during college hockey's early signing period.

Forwards Leon Bristedt and Jack Ramsey and defensemen Ryan Collins, Jack Glover and Steven Johnson make up the Gophers' 2014-15 freshmen class.

"We are excited to announce our new signing class. It's a talented class and one that fills a lot of our needs," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said in a statement released by the University. "All five guys are good hockey players, and more importantly, they are good people that will fit well with our team as well as our program philosophy."

A letter of intent is a binding agreement that a player entering his senior year of high school (or beyond) signs. It signifies that the player will officially attend the school. The letter of intent also ends recruitment and solidifies a verbal commitment, which can change at any time.

Johnson sent his LOI on the first day. Glover followed a couple days later while the rest came afterwards.

Four of the five names were not a surprise. Minnesota natives Collins, Glover, Johnson and Ramsey had all given verbal commitments ranging from a couple months to a couple years. They are joined by Bristedt, an 18 year-old from Waxholm, Sweden who currently plays for Linkoping's J-20 team. The 5'8", 183 lbs Bristedt made his commitment to Minnesota public Wednesday morning after visiting Minneapolis in October.

Collins and Glover continue being teammates. Both have played together at Benilde-St. Margaret's (MN-HS) and the United States National Development Team for the past two season. The pair, along with Ramsey, were participants in the All American Prospects Game back in September.

Collins is listed at 6'4", 204 lbs. The 18 year-old has plenty of international experience, having represented the United States at the 2012 Four Nations Tournament in Switzerland (gold medal), the 2013 Five Nations Tournament in Finland (bronze medal) and the 2013 World Under-17 Challenge in Canada (bronze medal).

He is draft eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft and Collins was included NHL Central Scouting's watch list this month as a "B" prospect (2nd or 3rd round choice).

The 6'3", 185 lbs Glover is a Golden Valley, MN native who was ranked 22nd by ISS for the 2014 NHL Draft last month. He is an excellent skater with good speed and agility. Glover has strong vision, which helps him move the puck well although he could use some time in the weight room.

Johnson comes to Minnesota after playing for Minnetonka (MN-HS) with fellow signee Jack Ramsey and current Gopher freshman Vinni Lettieri, Aberdeen (NAHL) and his current team the Omaha Lancers (MN-HS). The 19 year-old defenseman has been playing in all situations for the Lancers this year and currently has 11 assists in 15 games. Additionally, Johnson was a member of the Team USA squad that won the World Junior A Challenge Gold Medal in Nova Scotia earlier this month.

Ramsey is a Chanhassen, MN native whose father Mike is a member of Miracle on Ice 1980 US Olympic Team and sister Rachel currently plays for the Gopher women's hockey team. Jack right now is in Canada as a member of the Penticton Vees (BCHL) after spending last season at Minnetonka (MN-HS). The 6'2", 185 lbs forward has 7 points (2G-5A) in 25 games for the Vees. Ramsey plays on Penticton's 4th line, however, has played better hockey recently where he's looked more engaged defensively making the jump from high school to the BCHL.

He is draft-eligible in 2014.

Despite signing his LOI, Ramsey might be play another year of juniors before heading to Dinkytown. Space precludes him. Minnesota currently has 15 forwards on the roster this year. Only two (Nate Condon and Tom Serratore) are seniors. There is the chance that another forward leaves early, but the Gophers have plenty of right wings (which Ramsey plays).

If Ramsey does spend another year in juniors, it is an opportunity for him to put on some weight and work on his game rather than an indictment. The same thing happened to Justin Kloos before the 2012-13 season when Nick Bjugstad returned. Kloos made of the most of the extra year; putting up 87 points in for Waterloo Black Hawks.

College hockey's early signing period lasted between November 13 and November 20. Players who have not signed now have to wait until April 16, 2014.

--

Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- 

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