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Gophers Hockey: Mitch Hults changes course; commits to Lake Superior State

Hults will now play for the Lakers, who also received a commitment from his brother Cole, this upcoming season. It remains unseen if the Gophers will replace Hults' spot for 2015-16.

It appears that Mitch Hults will not be a Gopher after all.

47 days after the 20 year-old Madison Capitols (USHL) forward verbally committed to Minnesota, Hults is changing course. On Monday night the Stoughton, Wisconsin native tweeted he would be attending Lake Superior State instead along with his brother, 1998-born Cole Hults.

He was expected to be a part of Minnesota's 2015-16 freshman class.

The elder Hults finished his juniors career 3rd on the Capitols with 34 points (13G-22A) in 55 games this season. The expansion Capitols finished the year 7th of 9 teams in the USHL's Eastern Conference. A year earlier, Hults was a part of the Indiana Ice team that won the 2014 championship.

The other 3 players who had made verbal commitments to Minnesota since the early signing period ended mid-November have signed National Letters of Intent (LOI) since the spring signing period began last Wednesday. Those three are Green Bay (USHL) forward Brent Gates Jr., Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL) forward Darian Romanko and Muskegon (USHL) goaltender Eric Schierhorn




A letter of intent is a binding agreement that a player entering his senior year of high school (or beyond) signs to signify that the player will officially attend the school for at least one academic year. It's a hard commit compared with a verbal commitment. Players who have signed LOIs cannot be subjected to further recruiting and calls by other programs.

In other words, unlike a player like Hults flipping a verbal commitment, there is no chance of a player that signed a LOI to then go to a different school without major consequences.

It remains unseen whether or not Minnesota tries to add another player for the 2015-16 season or not at this late date.

The Gophers will have to replace 9 players (five forwards, three defensemen including Mike Reilly and goalie Adam Wilcox) from this past season's team provided there are no more early departures. (I'm counting two-time 1st Team All-American Mike Reilly telling Jason Gonzalez of the Minneapolis Star Tribune he will go pro as an early departure.) One of those spots will be taken by redshirt junior defenseman Nick Seeler. He will be eligible to play after transferring from Nebraska-Omaha and sitting out 2014-15.

With the other 3 spring commits expected to come in next season - Gates and Schierhorn have both made that indication and Romanko cannot return to juniors - and six commits signing during the early period this past November, there are nine players (6 forwards, 1 defenseman and 2 goalies).

Still, a couple of those are likely to play another year of juniors and come in during 2016-17. Before Hults' de-commitment the most likely candidates to spend a year in juniors were Bloomington (USHL) goalie Logan Halladay (who based on this USHL article sounds like he's returning to Bloomington rather than be the fourth goalie) and Shattuck-St. Mary's forward Ryan Norman. Now this could open a door for Norman.

Minnesota has yet to comment on its newest players or 2015-16 roster.


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --