The positives were few and far between for the Minutemen last season, as the team trudged its way to last place in Hockey East with a record 11-23-2 — including a 5-16-1 mark against conference foes.
However, amid all the of UMass' shortcomings, the team still featured a young core of talented players for the future — highlighted by sophomore forward Frank Vatrano and defenseman Brandon Montour.
Ultimately, optimists for UMass' 2015-16 campaign received a punch to the gut in March, when their leading goal scorer in Vatrano signed an entry-level deal with the Bruins, while Montour — who averaged just under a point per game in his freshman season — inked an NHL deal with the Ducks.
The Minutemen will still be able to put points on the board with the return of leading scorer Dennis Kravchenko (33 points), but a porous defense that allowed a conference-high 4.22 goals per game still fields a number of question marks.
The arrival of NHL draftees William Lagesson and Ivan Chukarov should aid the Minutemen's blue line, while Albert Junior Hockey League (AJHL) MVP Nic Renyard could see some significant time in net for a team that posted a combined .878 save percentage last season.