Minnesota Duluth’s celebrations haven’t ended yet, and there will be plenty of pro signings throughout college hockey in the offseason, so things will change. But here’s a look at a possible top 10 when the 2019-20 season starts in October:
10. Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish got a boost when goalie Cal Morris announced he’s returning for his senior season. Forwards Cal Burke and Michael Graham will have key roles.
9. Gophers: Sure, the losses of All-America forward Rem Pitlick, plus captain Tyler Sheehy and goalie Mat Robson will be felt. But coach Bob Motzko is improving the talent level, and freshman Sammy Walker showed he’s a difference-maker. Getting the new goalie or goalies acclimated will be key.
8. Boston College: The Eagles last played in the NCAA tournament in 2016. That’s an eternity for the program. David Cotton, who scored 23 goals this season, leads a solid group of returning players. Goalie could be an early concern.
7. North Dakota: The Fighting Hawks averaged 2.5 goals per game and missed the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. There’s too much talent returning in Grand Forks for that to happen again.
6. Harvard: If defenseman Adam Fox, a Hobey Baker finalist, returns for his senior season, the Crimson should be loaded with five underclassmen among their top seven scorers this year.
5. St. Cloud State: Though the Huskies took a big hit with the loss of Jimmy Schuldt, Ryan Poehling, Blake Lizotte, Patrick Newell and Robby Jackson, coach Brett Larson has a decent amount of talent returning, including Easton Brodzinski.
4. Massachusetts: The Minutemen certainly will miss Hobey Baker Award winner Cale Makar, but the cupboard isn’t bare. Five other players who were freshmen or sophomores had 20 points or more, and freshman goalie Filip Lindberg is tournament-tested.
3. Minnesota State: The Mavericks should be the class of the WCHA if everyone returns. Their top line of juniors Marc Michaelis, Parker Tuomie and Charlie Gerard combined for 112 points this year, and freshman goalie Dryden McKay went 24-7-2 with a 1.76 goals-against average. The NCAA tournament remains the big hurdle.
2. Denver: With a first-year coach in David Carle and four of their top six scorers as freshmen, the Pioneers nearly made it to the national championship game. Their future looks bright, though they must replace goalie Filip Larsson, who signed with Detroit.
1. Minnesota Duluth: The champs are the champs until they’re dethroned, though this could be an offseason of change for the Bulldogs. Will draft picks Mikey Anderson, Dylan Samberg and Scott Perunovich stay in school? And will an NHL team lure coach Scott Sandelin away?