Sunday, April 7, 2013

Haula Signs with the Minnesota Wild

According to the Star Tribune's Michael Russo, Erik Haula signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild today.

Haula, the Gophers scoring leader on the season, will report to Minnesota's AHL affiliate Houston Aeros.  The Finnish forward scored 16 goals and 35 assists on the year, good for fourth in the country and second nationally in points per game.

Haula is the sixth Gopher to leave the team before graduating this offseason, joining forwards Nick Bjugstad, Zach Budish and Jared Larson and defensemen Mark Alt and Nate Schmidt.

Hopefully this is the last early departure update we have this offseason.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Surprise! Mark Alt signs with the Flyers

While we're still waiting on word of the Erik Haula signing, the Gophers took another hit today when Mark Alt signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Alt's departure makes four early exits for Minnesota.  Bjugstad (FLA), Schmidt (WAS) and Budish (NSH's AHL team) are the other three.

Although not entirely unexpected (save for Alt leaving), this offseason has been damaging for the Maroon and Gold.

According to his Twitter feed, it appears that defenseman-recruit Tommy Vanelli is going to be coming in next season to replace the departing Alt.  The former Minnetonka Skipper was slated to play a year in the USHL, but Alt's departure leaves room for him on the roster.  Vanelli will join an incoming freshman class of Taylor Cammarata, Hudson Fasching, Justin Kloos, and Michael Brodzinski (and redshirt freshman Connor Reilly).

The Last Shoe to Drop? Haula Rumored to be in Talks with Wild

News today from Wild beat writer Michael Russo is that Erik Haula is in contract negotiations with the NHL team.

If and when Haula signs with the Wild, he will be the fourth non-senior to leave the Gophers this offseason, joining Nick Bjugstad (FLA), Nate Schmidt (WAS) and Zach Budish (NSH AHL-affiliate Milwaukee Admirals).

More as the story develops.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

More Departure News: Nick Bjugstad Signs; Wild Trade to make room for Haula (?)

Nick Bjugstad has signed with the Florida Panthers today, according to Gopher Hockey.

Bjugstad, a third-team all-WCHA player this season, scored 21 goals and added 15 assists for a total of 36 points, tied for third on the team with Zach Budish and behind Erik Haula and Kyle Rau.  Fairly or not, much of this Gopher team's failure to advance beyond the first round of the NCAA tournament rests squarely on Bjugstad's shoulders.  The preseason All-American did not come anywhere near those lofty expectations - likewise, this team, which was rated #1 or #2 all season long in the polls, did not live up to its potential.  Bjugstad definitely leaves large skates to fill, but his tenure in the maroon and gold may be more a question of "what if" than anything else.  Bjugstad will make his NHL debut this Saturday.

In other potential Gopher news, the Minnesota Wild (who own the rights to Erik Haula) have traded prospect Johan Larsson and goalie Matt Hackett for winger Jason Pominville.  The Wild have a stacked farm system, which led many to speculate that they may be looking to deal Haula.  Instead, perhaps they dealt a prospect from the system to make room for Haula.  More as the story develops.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Another Departure: Jared Larson to Transfer

Gopher forward Jared Larson will leave the Gophers and transfer to another D1 school.

Larson played in four games this season, and his Gopher career included 12 total games played.

There reportedly was no bad blood between Larson and the Gophers - he just wanted to go somewhere that he'd have more of an opportunity to play.

This is the third early departure of the day today, coming on the heels of the signings of Nate Schmidt and Zach Budish.

Two Down, Two to Go: Schmidt, Budish Sign Pro Contracts

According to sources, Nate Schmidt and Zach Budish have signed with pro teams, ending their Gopher careers.

Schmidt, a free agent, signed a two-year entry level deal with the Washington Capitals.

No official word has come down on Budish yet, but Nashville owns his rights.

Both players will be missed in the maroon and gold next year.

Gopher Hockey Rumor Mill: Bjugstad, Schmidt, Haula, Budish (?) Expected to Sign

With the 2012-2013 season officially in the rearview mirror for the Gophers, the team now looks to its next big decision points: the early signing of players from this year's roster.

We already know that Seth Helgeson will not return next season, as the senior used up his four years of eligibility and graduated.  Nothing is official yet, but it is all but certain that Nick Bjugstad (FLA) and Erik Haula (MIN) will sign with their professional teams.  It's also nearly a foregone conclusion that Nate Schmidt will sign as a free-agent, foregoing his senior season.

An interesting situation to keep an eye on is that of Zach Budish.  The redshirt junior and team captain already has his degree from the University, but has indicated that he wants to return for his senior season.  However, the coaching staff has apparently indicated that they wouldn't mind if Budish signed with Nashville.

Gopher coach Don Lucia has stated that at the very least the team will be bringing in four new players in forwards Taylor Cammarata, Justin Kloos, Hudson Fasching and defenseman Michael Brodzinksi.  Given that, it would make sense that they have been expecting the four players listed above to be exiting the program this offseason.

I, for one, hope Budish is still wearing the maroon and gold next season.  As for the other three guys, I think the realistic fan should expect them to be gone and be very, very pleasantly surprised if any of them decide to stick around for another shot at the national title.

Monday, April 1, 2013

BREAKING: Gwozdecky Resigns at Denver

Head Coach of Denver Pioneers George Gwozdecky has resigned today.  Although today's date (April Fools Day) is suspicious, the news appears to have been confirmed by multiple sources, including the DU Athletic Department and the Denver Post.  Sources are stating that the resignation may have been prompted by the school not giving Gwozdecky the contract extension he was expecting.

No word yet as to who DU is looking at or what this could mean, but definitely an interesting development in the college hockey world.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gophers 2012-2013 Season: An Autopsy


Minnesota just lost to Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament, ending the Gophers' season.

This season-ending loss stings harder than most for Gopher fans.  This was THE year for Minnesota, who had one of the most dynamic players in the country returning in Nick Bjugstad, as well as stars Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt.  They were the #1 team in the country virtually wire-to-wire, leading the nation in total offense and powerplay, while also placing in the top five in total defense and penalty kill.  This team had it all.

But they lost 2-0 to Colorado College in the Final Five, and lost 3-2 in overtime to Yale in the NCAA tournament.  The back-to-back losses were the Gophers' first of the year.

How could this happen?  How could a team that was at the top of the college hockey world nearly all season lose their last two games of the season, when it mattered the most?  Pride On Ice Blog breaks it down below: