The Gophers will lose seven players for sure off this season's team -- all are seniors -- after this season. They are:
Taylor Matson, team captain, third-line center, one of team's best penalty killers, fast
Jake Hansen, big second-line winger, hangs around net on power play, physical, getting lot of assists
Nick Larson, fourth-line wing, another valuable penalty killer, chips in with big goals sometimes like last Sat. vs. UND
Nico Sacchetti, has played little so far, third- or fourth-line player, showed flashes in past
Joey Miller, barely plays but shows energy when he gets on the ice, good teammate
Kent Patterson, iron man, always plays, five shutouts, sub-2.00 goals-against avg., playing like all-american
Jake Kremer, practice goalie, thankless job
Then there is the chance someone could turn pro and leave early. Most likely flight risk:
Nick Bjugstad, first-line sophomore center has NHL size, off to great start with eight goals, Florida 1st rd. pick in '10
NEXT WAVE OF RECRUITS
So where does that leave the Gophers? Obviously, they will have at least seven spots open on their roster for the 2012-13 season. Here are the six players expected to come in -- and one maybe:
Connor Reilly, Penticton (BCHL), age 20 now, 6-0, 170 ... 10 g, 17 assists -- 27 pts. in 17 games ... signed Nov. 2010
Ryan Reilly, Penticton (BCHL), 20, 5-8-1/2, 165 ... 6-8--14 in 17 games ... signed Nov. 2010
A.J. Michaelson, Waterloo (USHL), 17, 6-0, 185 .... 1-1--2 in 10 games ... expected to sign in next week
Justin Kloos, Lakeville South (MSHSL), 17, 5-9, 177 ... will sign Wed., if roster spot opens, will play next season at U
Mike Reilly, Penticton (BCHL), 18, 6-0, 165 ...10-11--21 in 15 gms ... will sign in next week, Columbus 4th rd. pick in '11
Brady Skjei, u-18 U.S. team (USHL), 17, 6-2, 203 ... expected to sign, playing in Swiss tourney, eligible for 2012 NHL draft
Adam Wilcox, Green Bay (USHL), 18, 6-0, 171 ... 4-2 with 2.67 gaa, .906 save pct., Tampa Bay 6th rd. pick in '11
Gophers will add walk-on goalie, too, for practice
When the Gophers will officially announce their November signings is hard to say. Last year it took especially long -- several weeks.
Committed players, coming in for 2013-14 at earliest
Taylor Cammarata, Waterloo (USHL), 16, 5-6, 145 ... 3-8--11 in 11 games, prolific scorer at Shattuck-SM last season
Gabe Guertler, Fargo (USHL), 16, 5-9, 170 ...4-1--5 in 12 games, from Plantation, Fla.
Vinni Lettieri, Minnetonka (MSHSL), 16, 5-8-1/2. 165 ... junior at 'Tonka, 14-13--27 in fall Elite League, Lou Nanne's grandson
Lou Nanne, Edina (MSHSL), 17, 5-10, 165 ... junior at Edina, 7-13--20 in fall Elite League in 20 games, Nanne's grandson
Mike Brodzinski, Blaine (MSHSL), 5-9-1/2, 182 ... junior in high school, older brother headed for St. Cloud State
3 FUTURE GOPHERS IN INT'L MEETS
Forward A.J. Michaelson of Waterloo (USHL) and defenseman Mike Reilly of Penticton (BCHL) are playing for the U.S. team competing in the World Junior A Challenge in Surrey, British Columbia. Both are expected to be part of the Gophers' next incoming freshman class.
Forward Mario Lucia, Reilly's Penticton teammate, is on the U.S. team, too. It is the three-time defending champion in the Challenge but lost its first game on Monday, 1-0 to Sweden on a goal in the last seconds. ... Lucia, of course, is Don Lucia's younger son and was a Wild's second-round draft pick in 2011. He will sign with Notre Dame, his dad's alma mater.
Defenseman Brady Skjei is with his under-18 U.S. national team in Switzerland right now, playing in the Four Nations' Cup which runs through Sunday. Skjei's team has an exhibition game with Switzerland on Wednesday, then plays Sweden on Friday, Finland on Saturday and Switzerland on Sunday. Tough grind.
Lakeville South senior center Justin Kloos, who will sign with the Gophers in a ceremony at school on Wednesday morning, recently finished a big season in the Upper Midwest Elite League. Kloos, who played for Team Southeast, led the league with 17 goals and 47 points in 21 games. His team was 14-4-3 (third number is overtime losses) and was the Elite League regular-season champion.
Kloos' high school team was 16-9-2 last season when he had 90 points; it lost in the section finals.
One of his Team Southeast teammates was Jake Guentzel, whose father Mike is the Gophers' associate head coach. Jake, playing on the same line with Kloos, was second in the Elite League in points with 41. He had 14 goals.
REILLYS LIKE PENTICTON
The parents of the three Reillys, Mike and Lisa, visited Penticton about three weeks.
"They love it [Penticton]," said their father, Mike. "They are buddies with Mario [Lucia], [Steven] Fogarty, [Joey] Benik and some of the other Minnesota kids."
He said Connor and Ryan are staying with one billet family, Mike, their upimger brother, and Mario Lucia with another billet family.
"The USHL might ask why would a group of kids from Minnesota go up there?" Mike Reilly, sr., said. "It's a good opportunity to experience something different."