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Gophers 2024 off season

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frozen4champs
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Wishing this post was delayed a couple of weeks, but here are a few of the things to watch out for this off season.

-- Will any of the Seniors come back for their 5th year.

-- Goaltending situation

-- Early Departures to the NHL

-- Transfer portal activity

-- Unexpected departures

-- New commitments

-- NIL 

-- Mariucci upgrades

--  Next years schedule and TV situation

I'm sure there are more, but these are top of mind.  Is it October yet?

 

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maroon and gold
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Let the “3rd season” begin. A few question marks but in general we know what the team will look like next year. Just for fun:

Pitlick-Moore-Lamb

Pahlsson-Huglen-Kurth

Hendrickson-Clark-Ziemer

Falloon-Mittelstadt-Nevers

 

Koster-Chesley

Mittelstadt-Rinzel

Thomas-Gruba

Whipple

 

Airey

Barto??

Wiese

 

Extras: Strobel, Pinoniemi, Michel??, Yakesh, Begley, Rud

 

10 D is really something but we had 10 D in 2020-21 so it isn’t unprecedented.


   
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BlueBandit24
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Expecting Snuggerud to sign with the Blues early this week.

Would welcome back Nevers and Koster if they exercise their Covid option. Happy Fish got a chance for extended run this year but numbers and defensive talent likely dictate he is moving on.

Strong class, though not sure anyone comes in and lights it up year one. Think this team will be built through its defensive talent and depth.

Airey the 1A. Big questions beyond him.

This year's team was good, not great. Expecting similar next year but feel the upside will be greater. 


   
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Rau4SkiUMah
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I’m already very excited for next year. The team should be solid once again and I have a feeling they will have shaken off the hangover of the 2023 national championship game. I’ve said it before but the season after getting so close is always really tough. This year was quite the roller coaster but overall a fun year with a good team. 
But more importantly, for me personally, it has kept me connected to home. Left for Navy basic training just over a year ago and I have been in Florida ever since. Watching the Gophers every Friday/Saturday night and chatting with all of you has been very enjoyable and helped me keep a part of home wherever I go. Like they say, you can take the boy out of Minnesota but you can’t take the Minnesota out of the boy. So here’s to you all for making the season more fun. Here’s to next year and every season we get to enjoy going forward. Finally, here’s to full crowds at Mariucci and the maroon and gold putting on a show for the home crowd. I’ll be following and cheering from afar. 


   
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Gophers_inGF
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Bob has to get a leading scorer out of the portal this year. Top ncaa football programs do it every year to address qb issues. Need a goalie from portal, however, it seems i have more faith in airey than most.


   
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gopher6
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So who will be captain next season?

Aloha!


   
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MikeEruzione11
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Like stated above, Bob needs to bring in a top scorer from the portal. 

Also need to bring in a transfer goalie to compete with Airey.

Should be using the portal to your advantage at Minnesota. Need to adapt with the times. 


   
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BlueBandit24
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It is an ideal year to identify a big add out of The Portal. Some strong returning forwards but could use a top line talent to really take the team to the next level.


   
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Jaykay3
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Making a couple assumptions here. Jimmy is gone but Pitlick, Nevers and Koster are back. Starting the freshmen low in the lineup but could certainly see them move up, especially Pahlsson and Ziemer. I'm not sure that Whipple comes in yet, there's no need to rush him unless Koster leaves. Need another goalie, RIT guy maybe? Could certainly find room for another high end forward too. 

Pitlick-Moore-Kurth

Nevers-Huglen-Lamb

Hendrickson-Clark-Pahlsson

Strobel-Falloon-Ziemer

Mittelstadt, Pino

 

Koster-Chesley

Thomas-Rinzel

Mittelstadt-Gruba

Rud, Begley

 

Airey

x

Wiese


   
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TheBirdman
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I'm just hoping for an unexpected "win" in the offseason this year.

 

Last year, we got the double gut punch of losing Cooley in the summer and then Eiserman flipping to BU.


   
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Snowcool08
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I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pitlick and Huglen gone. Just a hunch. Pitlick seemed to be over it the last few months of the season. He was constantly in Bob’s doghouse. There were questions about Huglen leaving after last year. He is older (drafted in 2019) and may think it’s time to move on. 


   
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MNGophers29
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I would have high hopes for Gruba for next season. He is having a stellar season with the Force. Leading D scorer in the USHL (55pts in 57 games). 


   
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bearpaw28
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Posted by: @gopher6

So who will be captain next season?

Probably Nevers (in J. Nelson fashion) Will be interesting if tBob asks Koster to return) I’m pretty sure he extends the opportunity to Nevers. I believe 24-25 is the last year for 5th year covid eligibility. They’ll be talented (as usual) no doubt tBob is a great recruiter and it being the U sells itself. But as the years roll on, not converting with the team they had in 22-23 will linger…

 

 


   
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BlueBandit24
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If Pitlick and/or Huglen move on, portal add becomes a must. Accelerating someone like Townsend makes zero sense. Only four forwards in the pipeline ready for NCAA action.


   
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bearpaw28
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Posted by: @snowcool08

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pitlick and Huglen gone. Just a hunch. Pitlick seemed to be over it the last few months of the season. He was constantly in Bob’s doghouse. There were questions about Huglen leaving after last year. He is older (drafted in 2019) and may think it’s time to move on. 

The fact Huglen is married also could influence him to sign a pro deal. Frankly I thought he plateaued this season. Pitlick can skate like the wind, but just can’t put it all together at once. He needs to stay in college hockey at this point, he’s far from being ready for the pros (like Rem was at this stage). 

 


   
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Magic
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Posted by: @thebirdman

I'm just hoping for an unexpected "win" in the offseason this year.

 

Last year, we got the double gut punch of losing Cooley in the summer and then Eiserman flipping to BU.

The Gophers have very good players, but having those elite players get you over the hump in the post season. We lost five NHLers and BU added Celebrini with Hudson. Result: A 6-2 win (2 empty net goals) turns into a 6-3 loss (2 empty net goals). I'm in the minority, but I believe Snuggerud will return. Why would he bounce back and forth from AHL and NHL. A year of strength training will only help Jimmy

 


   
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MikeEruzione11
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Posted by: @bearpaw28

Posted by: @snowcool08

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pitlick and Huglen gone. Just a hunch. Pitlick seemed to be over it the last few months of the season. He was constantly in Bob’s doghouse. There were questions about Huglen leaving after last year. He is older (drafted in 2019) and may think it’s time to move on. 

The fact Huglen is married also could influence him to sign a pro deal. Frankly I thought he plateaued this season. Pitlick can skate like the wind, but just can’t put it all together at once. He needs to stay in college hockey at this point, he’s far from being ready for the pros (like Rem was at this stage). 

 

Huglen had a great second half to the season. He was consistently one of the best players on the ice. 

 


   
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maroon and gold
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@jaykay3 

Forgot Whipple. Unless you think he’s going USHL next year


   
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maroon and gold
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Posted by: @bearpaw28

Posted by: @snowcool08

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pitlick and Huglen gone. Just a hunch. Pitlick seemed to be over it the last few months of the season. He was constantly in Bob’s doghouse. There were questions about Huglen leaving after last year. He is older (drafted in 2019) and may think it’s time to move on. 

The fact Huglen is married also could influence him to sign a pro deal. Frankly I thought he plateaued this season. Pitlick can skate like the wind, but just can’t put it all together at once. He needs to stay in college hockey at this point, he’s far from being ready for the pros (like Rem was at this stage). 

 

He plateaued this year? 7 goals freshman year, 7 goals sophomore year, 13 this year.

 


   
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streakygopher
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Posted by: @bearpaw28

Posted by: @snowcool08

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pitlick and Huglen gone. Just a hunch. Pitlick seemed to be over it the last few months of the season. He was constantly in Bob’s doghouse. There were questions about Huglen leaving after last year. He is older (drafted in 2019) and may think it’s time to move on. 

The fact Huglen is married also could influence him to sign a pro deal. Frankly I thought he plateaued this season. Pitlick can skate like the wind, but just can’t put it all together at once. He needs to stay in college hockey at this point, he’s far from being ready for the pros (like Rem was at this stage). 

 

I thought Huglen had a terrific second half this year. He was one of a few who showed up yesterday. I hope he comes back.

I don't know what is going on with Pitlick. He regressed terribly. He has talent but constantly puts himself out of position.

If I recall correctly, on the goal BU scored from the faceoff dot, Pitlick can be seen circling and tearing up the ice looking for a breakout pass while the outcome of the scrum behind the net was still in doubt. If he drops down to cover the BU player, that goal doesn't get scored. There's lots of motion, but not a lot of discipline or results.

I doubt he's an NHL player, and to your point, he should stay in college. If he has a strained relationship with the coach, maybe he transfers out?

 


   
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bearpaw28
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Posted by: @maroon_and_gold

Posted by: @bearpaw28

Posted by: @snowcool08

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Pitlick and Huglen gone. Just a hunch. Pitlick seemed to be over it the last few months of the season. He was constantly in Bob’s doghouse. There were questions about Huglen leaving after last year. He is older (drafted in 2019) and may think it’s time to move on. 

The fact Huglen is married also could influence him to sign a pro deal. Frankly I thought he plateaued this season. Pitlick can skate like the wind, but just can’t put it all together at once. He needs to stay in college hockey at this point, he’s far from being ready for the pros (like Rem was at this stage). 

 

He plateaued this year? 7 goals freshman year, 7 goals sophomore year, 13 this year.

 

I didn’t follow the team that closely week after week, but going from 7 to 13 goals, that only increases the possibility he signs a pro contract…I could see him moving on. Probably won’t…but? 

 


   
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camo coat guy
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With the pretty solid freshman year lamb had I probably unfairly expected more progression from him this season. I was a big fan of his game last year but like some of the others it he seemed more off the radar than I expected.


   
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Jaykay3
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Posted by: @maroon_and_gold

@jaykay3 

Forgot Whipple. Unless you think he’s going USHL next year

 

I mentioned it in my comment but I don't think they'd bring him in to be the 7th D, which is what he'd be if no one leaves. I think a year in the USHL would be good for him but if Koster leaves he'll be here I would think. 

 


   
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Jaykay3
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Posted by: @coffey-curve

https://twitter.com/MarkDivver/status/1774474314252763347

 

Wow, that'd be big. 

 


   
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GopherPete
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What does it mean when a team is the favorite, considering he isn't even in the portal yet? Does that just mean that Wood likes the teams that were mentioned, or does it mean that he has already had talks with the teams mentioned?


   
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frozen4champs
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Posted by: @gopherpete

What does it mean when a team is the favorite, considering he isn't even in the portal yet? Does that just mean that Wood likes the teams that were mentioned, or does it mean that he has already had talks with the teams mentioned?

My guess is the players "advisor" knows the reporter and gave him a scoop.

 

I'm 50% factual and 50% sarcastic. When you get to know me, you will know which is which.


   
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BlueBandit24
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Posted by: @gopherpete

What does it mean when a team is the favorite, considering he isn't even in the portal yet? Does that just mean that Wood likes the teams that were mentioned, or does it mean that he has already had talks with the teams mentioned?

It is a good question. I don't know for sure so won't have much to add. Bringing in Wood, however, would be massive. Imagine he heads right to top line with Moore centering him.

 


   
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Gopher Fan 26
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Just to get our hopes up more: https://twitter.com/mikemcmahonchn/status/1774479765627412672?s=46


   
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MikeEruzione11
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Posted by: @gopher-fan-26

Just to get our hopes up more: https://twitter.com/mikemcmahonchn/status/1774479765627412672?s=46

let’s go Bob!!

 


   
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BlueBandit24
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If tBob has changed his stance on The Portal and is more receptive to the idea of buttressing the roster utilizing it, a great sign for the program. Even great coaches can grow stubborn and stale. Would indicate he is evolving with the game.


   
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gopheritall
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I am very interested in seeing what happens this offseason. Clearly some adjusting is needed, but not an overhaul. There might even be some hard decisions to be made.

There is a lot to look forward to with this team.

I remember when we were all wringing our hands wondering what we were going to do being "stuck" with a practice goalie that wasn't supposed to actually play. I am willing to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt on this one.


   
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maroon and gold
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Wood would be a HUGE pickup


   
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streakygopher
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The portal has changed college hockey for the worse. Every year, coaches will think about which players are recruitment mistakes while players will weigh the chances of their team making it into the postseason - and act accordingly. It's like professional hockey without a paycheck or a salary cap.

Minnesota has a defenseman or two and maybe a forward who might easily be replaced by proven talent. (Koster isn't one of them.)


   
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MikeEruzione11
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Posted by: @streakygopher

Minnesota has a defenseman or two and maybe a forward who might easily be replaced by proven talent. (Koster isn't one of them.)

Not disagreeing with you, but curious to which defenseman you are talking about?

 


   
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streakygopher
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Begley and Rud come to mind. 


   
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Posted by: @streakygopher

Begley and Rud come to mind. 

 No one is coming in to be the 6th defenseman. That makes it a lot tougher lure unless you have some higher role to offer (such as if Koster is gone and you have a bigger cut of minutes to sell)

 


   
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MikeEruzione11
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Yeah I thought that was a given. Rud and Begley are extras. Who knows if those two are even on the roster next year. 


   
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maroon and gold
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Methinks they new what they signed up for being depth defensemen but you never know in the portal era


   
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Any Road
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The Matthew Wood news shows that Motzko and company never have a day off. Us fans just have to twiddle our thumbs until the new season starts. Meanwhile Bob gets right to work the next day after the season ends. 


   
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Go4birdvowel
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Gopher instagram is now following Matthew Wood but they also followed Hagens so who knows if it means anything. 


   
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The Name On The Front
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Landing Wood instantly jumps us into legit contender status for next year imo, provided we don't have unreasonable pro/portal losses. I think the d corps could be special and I'm already dreaming of the Moore/Wood top line combo.


   
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upnorthkid
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Wanted to give this a day prior to doing it to avoid the heat of the moment. Tough way to end the year in a game you felt like you had a chance in, but that's how it goes in a 1 and done environment when pretty much anyone can beat anyone. Overall another solid year that just never quite got to the next level throughout, yet only with 1 more loss this year than last (obviously more ties and played fewer games). 

In review of the stats:

3.46 GPG vs 2.56 GAPG (last year 4.2 vs 2.2)

PP 23.2% vs 26.6 and PK 79.5% vs 83.5

1280 SH vs 1197 SA (1294 vs 1133 last year)

Obviously this is my personal review, but trying to be objective of each of the players (as well as my expectations of them going into the year) and where we go from here:

Exceeded Expectations

Jaxon Nelson: most goals of his career and carried the team towards the end of the year while still playing his solid, grinding defensive style. He will be sorely missed and whatever team has him in their system will be very happy. The biased part: Will go down as one of my favorite Gophers

Bryce Brodzinski: brought a hell of a lot of fire in spite of all the criticism he got and scored some big goals. Obviously has some limitations as a skater, but played smart hockey overall and there's a reason that line was a +51

Jimmy Clark: given when he was brought in and the role expected, really didn't think we'd get much out of him this year but he flashed some higher end skill and always played hard. Looks like a solid 4 year guy

Aaron Huglen: doubled his goal total and played solid defense. Hoping his late season surge is a sign of things to come and a Nelson like year as a senior next year (fully expect him to come back and wear a letter as he's been a U guy through and through). 

Brody Lamb: tripled his point total despite limited PP time. Bordered him on the met expectations as he wasn't as hard on the forecheck at times nor used his size as much as I'd expect. To me that's the next step in his game as he has the tools to be a big time power forward

Cal Thomas: played a solid, shut down role for this team and think he pairs really well with Rinzel

Met Expectations:

Justen Close: overall very similar stats to last year with a sv% over 92 and 4 SOs but was pulled multiple times/had some rough ones down the stretch. 

Oliver Moore: flashed some great things and had some struggles. What I'd expect out of a mid/late 1st round guy, especially a smaller sized one. Unfair he came in with Cooley like expectations (there's a massive difference between a top 5 guy and one in the mid to late teens). A year getting stronger and harder on pucks should do him wonders and really needs to work on his vision/passing

Rhett Pitlick: I think we were all very hard on Rhett this year. One of the most frustrating guys on this roster as he seems to have so much talent, it's just so sporadic when it shows up. Looking at it in totality, his scoring total went up again and he did well killing penalties. Definitely has more to unlock and think he could have a massive year if he comes back and can stay locked in for a year.

Sam Rinzel: flashed some great things and had some major oops at times, which is about exactly what I'd expect for him. Reminded me a lot of Lacombe early on but would love to see him try and create a little more next year as he has that in his game.

Connor Kurth: had some moments but overall was not noticeable for much of the year. 

Luke Mittelstadt: really thought he was going to take a jump and provide some offense from the blueline that we were sorely lacking this year. Thought he was fine defensively for most of the year, but at his size there are players/teams he's going to struggle with.

Ryan Chesley: thought he cleaned up his game really well as the year went on and he played with and was responsible for Fish for much of the year, which I think limited his ability to go play offense. He would be one I'd have my eye on for a big leap next year. 

Carl Fish: is who he is with more warts than our usual D guys, but he for the most part played within those limitations. Bob put him out there in some tough spots and there's a reason he would get sat when the games got tight late and we'd roll 5 D. 

John Mittelstadt: plays hard and for the most part is a very responsible player. think he does have some more offense in his game, but that's not going to happen on the 4th line.

Garrett Pinoniemi, Charlie Strobel, Max Rud, Axel Begley: all role players/extra guys who did their job as best as they could. 

Below Expectations

Mason Nevers: love Nevers and what he's given to the U, but looked like just didn't quite have the same confidence this year. Would take him back in a lower line role if he wants that, but also wouldn't be upset if he moves on/we look to the portal for more scoring punch

Jimmy Snuggerud: some of this I think is unfair expectations for him, but really expected him to show more grit/heart and he really disappeared when this team needed him most (6 points in 13 games from February on). So much in his game he needs to work on but he absolutely has the ability to play like Knies and be a power forward, be harder on pucks, and work on the defensive side of his game. Some of this I think was a huge change in ability for puck retrieval with who he played with, but if he comes back, he's going to be coming back with the massive expectations he didn't live up to this year once again. Some guys don't thrive in that role, some do, and maybe that would be part of why he would look to move on to the NHL if the Blues want him. 

Mike Koster: clearly seemed like the injury stuck with him all the way through the holidays and having his point total drop by half really hurt our scoring from the blueline (he was our #2 scoring defenseman last year). Would be happy to take him back for continuity on the blueline and think he could be a good mentor for a guy like Gruba. 

Questions for next year:

1. What does Jimmy do?

2. Do Koster or Nevers come back?

3. Do any of Rud, Begley, Pino, Strobel move on? 

4. Do we add a portal goalie and/or scoring punch up front that we really missed this year?

5. What identity do we buy into for next year? Felt like that was really lacking for much of this year in that we didn't know who we are cohesively as a team. This team will return a ton of guys who are responsible defenders and could have most/all of the defense back aside from the freshman coming in. Could be a really formidable grit/grind and hit you in transition team if they decide to buy into that


   
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BlueBandit24
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Posted by: @thenameonthefront

Landing Wood instantly jumps us into legit contender status for next year imo, provided we don't have unreasonable pro/portal losses. I think the d corps could be special and I'm already dreaming of the Moore/Wood top line combo.

I see what you did there...

 


   
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Posted by: @thenameonthefront
I'm already dreaming of the Moore/Wood top line combo.


Lets Go Wow GIF by CTV

 


   
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Posted by: @bluebandit24

Posted by: @thenameonthefront

Landing Wood instantly jumps us into legit contender status for next year imo, provided we don't have unreasonable pro/portal losses. I think the d corps could be special and I'm already dreaming of the Moore/Wood top line combo.

I see what you did there...

 

he seems a lot more about the names on the back than on the front, but Pitlick Moore Wood could be a great combo. 

 


   
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Bertogliat
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Posted by: @thenameonthefront

Landing Wood instantly jumps us into legit contender status for next year imo, provided we don't have unreasonable pro/portal losses. I think the d corps could be special and I'm already dreaming of the Moore/Wood top line combo.

The next two years of defense recruits look very solid.  

 


   
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frozen4champs
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Posted by: @bertogliat

Posted by: @thenameonthefront

Landing Wood instantly jumps us into legit contender status for next year imo, provided we don't have unreasonable pro/portal losses. I think the d corps could be special and I'm already dreaming of the Moore/Wood top line combo.

The next two years of defense recruits look very solid.  

 

I like Bob's recruiting style. He is now adding older, bigger guys to mesh with the high end young guys. 

But according to certain people not enough #1 draft choices, and Cooley and Eiserman both bailed because they see the program in shambles...

 

I'm 50% factual and 50% sarcastic. When you get to know me, you will know which is which.


   
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BlueBandit24
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Posted by: @frozen4champs

Posted by: @bertogliat

Posted by: @thenameonthefront

Landing Wood instantly jumps us into legit contender status for next year imo, provided we don't have unreasonable pro/portal losses. I think the d corps could be special and I'm already dreaming of the Moore/Wood top line combo.

The next two years of defense recruits look very solid.  

 

I like Bob's recruiting style. He is now adding older, bigger guys to mesh with the high end young guys. 

But according to certain people not enough #1 draft choices, and Cooley and Eiserman both bailed because they see the program in shambles...

Would have no idea whom you're referring to...

Despite the wild calls for Motzko's job, feel the program is as healthy as it has been for a long time. Things can change fast, but have full confidence in this staff.

 


   
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Go4birdvowel
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Didn’t realize Matthew Wood’s Dad, Jamie, was an assistant coach for the Gophers women team for a couple of years. 


   
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