Gophers coach Don Lucia said Saturday that four recruits--Taylor Cammarata of Plymouth, Justin Kloos of Lakeville, Hudson Fasching of Apple Valley and Gabe Guertler, who is from Florida--will be joining the Gophers next season. There could be more, depending upon who leaves.
This week, Lucia will begin his annual postseason meetings with players. He expects to learn more about whether Nick Bjugstad, Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt--or anyone else--plans to sign a pro contract. "I'm sure some of them have an idea right now whether they're staying or going,'' Lucia said. "We'll sit down this week and figure out where we're at.''
Cammarata and Kloos, teammates with Waterloo of the USHL, are the top two scorers in the league. Cammarata has 82 points, Kloos has 77 and Guertler, who plays for Fargo, has 51. They're all smaller guys, in the 5-7 to 5-9 range. Fasching, who plays for USA Hockey's under-18 team in Ann Arbor, Mich., is 6-3 and a potential first-round NHL draft pick. There will be opportunity for all of them, Lucia said, to claim a substantial role as soon as they begin their Gophers careers.
"We're in pretty good position,'' Lucia said. "We have players to bring in. Some of them we'd like to see play two years in juniors, and some already have, which is good. Cammerata and Guertler have had two years in juniors. Kloos is having a good year.
"We're going to need some of that (scoring). We need a little more depth in our lineup as far as being able to create offense. We didn't have as much this year as we did the year before. The best teams we've had, from an offensive standpoint, are when we're bringing scoring from three lines.''
Regarding players who might improve significantly or assume leadership roles next season, Lucia had this to say: "We'll have a better idea in the next few weeks who our captains will be, after we have the end-of-the-year player meetings. Every returning guy, you hope they can improve their game and make some strides. I think some of them did (this year). Tom Serratore, Seth Ambroz, Christian Isackson, Travis Boyd, they all had more points.
"Based on what some of the guys do, especially Nick (Bjugstad) and Erik (Haula), that will determine whether we have the option to move (Kyle) Rau back to center, or Nate Condon. What we do with guys will depend upon who returns.''
Lucia also reiterated what a good group of Gophers he had this year. "It was so painful in the locker room,'' he said of the mood after Friday's loss to Yale in the NCAA tournament. "It was a fun group to be around. They excel in class. There are no off-ice issues. They put so much into it. The fans get disappointed, but they're not nearly as disappointed as the players. They're devastated when the season ends.
"My heart was broken for Ben Marshall (who lost the puck in overtime, leading to Yale's winning goal). Nobody felt worse than he did. That's the sad part. You feel for the kids.''