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Talking Early Departures

There's only four teams for whom the offseason has not yet begun, and let's be honest, for one of those teams, nobody is signing more than maybe a minor league contract. So now is a good time to turn our attention to which players might be leaving to sign pro contracts.

We'll start in the WCHA where there are always a lot of departures, and move on to the CCHA.

Update: Apparently I left out North Dakota the first go round. I've added a paragraph on them.

Colorado College already lost Richard Bachman and Brian Connelly to the pros. Forward Billy Sweatt says he is still undecided. I could be way off here, but to me, that loosely translates to "they haven't made me an offer I like yet". Maybe the Blackhawks won't make an offer he likes at all and will come back, but I'm a little skeptical. That would be pretty devastating to CC. The book on CC this year was that they were a one-line team with a good goalie. That whole line and the goalie would be gone. Their leading returning scoer would be Gabe Guentzel with 17 points. CC has some young players that will improve, their goaltending situation looked equally grim two years ago and that worked out, and they always seem to surprise people with their play, but it could be a rough season for them next year.

The other potential departure to keep an eye on with CC will be recruit John Moore. I've got a feeling that an OHL team(probably the London Knights) will try to make a serious run at acquiring Moore(though I'm sure no money will change hands) a la John Carlson last season.

Minnesota is a team that always has a lot of draft picks, which means there's always potential for early departures. I've seen Fiona Quick speculate that Mike Carman will sign very soon, and that Ryan Flynn could go too.Mike Carman and Mike Hoeffel are two guys that aren't really scorers, so I don't think the average fan appreciates them much, but I could see their respective NHL teams wanting to sign them for what they'd bring to a lower line.

The other interesting Gopher to watch will be Jordan Schroeder, who will be drafted in June. I've got a feeling that he could be one and done a la Phil Kessel. If a player was a junior and had the same type of year he did, I think it would be practically a given that he was gone.

Wisconsin is almost guaranteed to have some early departures, but I doubt any will look that bad. Going back to the Jamie McBain signing, it was said at the time that most everybody else planned on returning, leaving way too many people on the roster, and that some would likely leave. I think Ryan McDonagh will sign with Montreal, and somebody will probably sign John Mitchell. But that still leaves a lot of guys still on the roster and a lot of kids coming in. Somebody is going to be odd man out there.

Denver doesn't lose a lot to graduation, other than some veteran leadership, and I don't think they'll get hit too hard by the pros. Tyler Bozak leaving is almost a given. Joe Colborne is a first round draft pick, but he's a project, and I think he'll stay at least one more year. The freshman I could see leaving is Patrick Wiercioch. I was tremendously impressed with his play this year, and he might be able to make the jump.

Tyler Ruegsegger is an NHL draft pick, but I can't see any way he leaves DU early. Rhett Rakhshani might leave just because he's a junior and the Islanders might not want to risk losing him to free agency next summer.

North Dakota didn't have as many big name superstars as they have in years past, so they likely won't be hit as hard by early departures. The one player I do see leaving early is Chris VandeVelde, who is an Edmonton Oilers draft pick. All of their other draft picks are probably a year or two away. Chay Genoway may draw some looks just because of the fantastic year that he had, but he may stick around for his senior year just because of his lack of size.

For Minnesota-Duluth, the only serious flight watch is probably Alex Stalock. I'm almost always against goalies leaving early, but what else does he have left to accomplish at the collegiate level? Evan Oberg is a player I've always been tremendously impressed with, and I think he'll get some pro offers some day. I don't know if it will be this summer though. The bigger concern for Duluth is losing such an experienced senior class.

In St. Cloud, there's an interesting goaltending situation next year. Mike Lee, who should be a pretty high draft pick, could join the Huskies next year. That would give them three NHL draft pick goalies on the roster. Common sense would dictate that somebody is leaving. Weslosky had some academic problems during the middle of the year and Dunn has never done much to prove himself as a capable goaltender. I wouldn't be surprised if one of those two left.

Aaron Marvin is a draft pick of the Calgary Flames. He's made some nice strides in his career at St. Cloud and would be better served by taking the extra years to develop, but the Flames could be impatient and try to sign him. Garrett Roe could sign with the Los Angeles Kings too.

Anchorage has already lost Paul Crowder, and any of their three next highest scorers could be the next to leave. Josh Lunden and Tommy Grant are both nice looking pro prospects with good size, and both were healthy scrathes in games against St. Cloud and Denver for disciplinary reasons.

Minnesota State already lost Trevor Bruess and I'd be surprised if anyone else left. I doubt anyone leaves Michigan Tech early either.

Michigan kind of has the market cornered on early departures in the CCHA. I think the most obvious choice to leave early would be Aaron Palushaj, who considered leaving after last season. I think Phoenix will try to sign Chris Summers as well. Everybody else will probably be back for at least one more year, which all in all, isn't a bad summer for Michigan.

Notre Dame is finally at a point where they have to start worrying about early departures. Ian Cole is probably the most likely to leave, but I could see that going either way. Teddy Ruth and Kyle Lawson would also be flight risks, but are probably likely to stay. It's already been a rough offseason for Notre Dame losing Cam Fowler.

Ohio State has a couple flight risks to keep an eye on. Joe Palmer is a Chicago draft pick and was basically relegated to a third-string this year, so you can almost guarantee that he's done at Ohio State. Zac Dalpe will be a flight risk again this summer, but he had a pretty good year, and John Markell will likely be back again as coach next year, so I'd imagine he will stick around.

Miami has a lot of really good players, but also a lot of guys that lack the size to really draw the interest of the NHL. I could see Carter Camper signing as a free agent just because he's so talented. Will Webber was a fairly high draft pick, but a project, and the longer he stays in college, the better it will likely be for his pro future.

After a disaster of a season Michigan State might lose a couple guys to the pros. Jeff Petry is an Edmonton Oilers draft pick. He didn't have a great year, but was also stuck with no supportuing cast on the blueline. He was overextended all year and his play suffered. I could see Edmonton wanting to get him in their organization. The other flight risk is first round pick Daultan Leveille. Leveille is tremendously talented, but needs to add some strength. I could see Atlanta trying to sign him just to put him on an OHL team as opposed to spending another year struggling on an offensively inept team.

Atlanta might also be interested in Ferris State defenseman Zach Redmond, who has been just outstanding the past two years.

Other than that, I'd be surprised if there were any other major departures in the CCHA.