Gophers in the NHL - 20-21

bonin21

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I've been tracking Gophers in the NHL for a number of years. Unsurprisingly, not a lot of NHL talent came through the U during the frustrating period from 15-16 - 19-20. There will be multiple NHLers from the current blue line, but no guarantees that any of the current forwards make an impact in the show.

I'll keep note of those playing in the NHL here.

The old guard (that is carrying Gopher point production in the NHL and will need to be replaced):
Blake Wheeler - Captain of the Jets and the current shining star for Gophers in the NHL - 34yo
Phil Kessel - 2x cup champ sniper's career is winding down rapidly in Arizona. With 34 GP he'll pass Neal Broten and reach 1100. With three goals he'll pass Vanek with 374. With 63 points (probably over two seasons) he'll pass Broten with 924 - 33yo
Kyle Okposo - His career has been hampered by injuries and he's not an impact player anymore in Buffalo - 32yo
Alex Goligoski - Like Kessel, the steady defenseman's career is winding down in sunny Arizona - 35yo
Erik Johnson - The #1 overall pick in 2006 plays on an absolutely stacked Avalanche blueline, where he has a quiet defensive role - 32yo

The recent peak (players from the extremely talented Gopher teams from 11-12 - 14-15)
Nick Bjugstad - The fan favorite has had his career completely derailed by injuries, but is back home with the Wild hoping for a fresh start and potentially starting the season as 1C between Kaprisov and Parise - 28yo
Erik Haula - The superstar in maroon and gold has bounced around a lot and will try to resurrect his 17-18 Vegas production as a Nashville Predator - 29yo
Nate Schmidt - Another fan favorite, and what many consider a legit top pairing D in the NHL. It will be interesting to see his role in Vancouver - 29yo
Justin Holl - Took his time to become an NHL regular, but is now pretty locked in to the Leafs top six - 28yo
Brady Skjei - His world class skating was always going to make him an NHL regular for many years, and that's exactly what he's become in NY and now Carolina - 26yo
Mike Reilly - The offensive dynamo in college hasn't quite become a full time NHLer, but plays enough to make this section for now. It will be interesting to see his role with the Senators this year - 27yo
Mark Alt - Despite only playing 18 games so far, Alt has made the LA Kings opening night roster because of Covid player losses, and we'll see if he plays - 29yo

The others
Nick Leddy - Like Skjei, his skating made him NHL ready after only one year at the U. He's already played 720 games, with many, many more to come for the Islanders. - 29yo
Ryan Lindgren - The best d-man and now best NHL prospect to come through the U during the troubled years, he's currently set to start the season on the top pair for the Rangers at a very young age. The thoroughbreds from the U: Goligoski then Leddy then Skjei now Lindgren. Faber may be the next one. - 22yo

The taxi squad guys and the guys that could get a handful of NHL games this season
Casey Mittelstadt - Buffalo taxi squad - (Special callout here because CM is looking like a massive flop in the NHL sadly. I had so much hype for him as a Gopher and pro but he left the U one year too early, before he was even dominating the college game on a consistent, month over month basis. This year is make or break for his NHL career.) - 22yo
Travis Boyd - Toronto taxi squad - 27yo
Hudson Fasching - Arizona taxi squad - 25yo
Vinni Lettieri - Anaheim taxi squad - 25yo
Kyle Rau - Minnesota taxi squad - 28yo
Aaron Ness - Arizona AHL - 30yo
Nick Seeler - Chicago AHL - 27yo
Jake Bischoff - Vegas AHL - 26yo
Rem Pitlick - Nashville AHL - 23yo
 
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UncleSam'sMisguidedChild

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Awesome rundown. Thanks. I always forget about Lindgren because of his limited time here on a subpar team.
 

bonin21

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Awesome rundown. Thanks. I always forget about Lindgren because of his limited time here on a subpar team.
Rangers play Isles (Leddy) tonight at 6 on NHL Network and he should get a lot of minutes on the top pair with Adam Fox. All six Rangers D will be Americans including K'Andre Miller making his debut from Tonka (though he's dead to me as a badger).
 

Gophers1992

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Great summary. Hard to believe Lindgren is only 22, feels like so long ago he was here. A shame he wasn't on better teams.

Too early to call CM a flop IMO, though I agree he left too early.

What ever happened to Zach Budish? Loved him as a player here.
 

bonin21

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What ever happened to Zach Budish? Loved him as a player here.
Got some games in the AHL but if you can't skate well you'll never make the NHL these days. That's why Ranta is the most likely forward on the current team to stick in the NHL and Reedy and Meyers will have a tough time making it.

That's also a big reason Mittelstadt isn't up there yet. His skating was never great.
 


bonin21

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In the first few nights of the NHL some Gophers are getting on the scoresheet, mostly with assists. Kessel scored, though. Bjugstad started on the Wild's 1st line and ended up on the 4th. I think a big reason behind that is his skating holds him back, like I mentioned about other Gopher forwards.

I also pulled the 20 youngest Minnesotans that have played in the NHL, showing how frustrating the recent Gopher recruiting was.

SCSU has 3 of the youngest 10 and 4 of the youngest 20.
UMD has 2 of the youngest 10 and 4 of the youngest 20.
UND has 1 of the youngest 10 (Boeser, the biggest recruiting miss of the last 10 years) and 4 of the youngest 20.
UMN has 2 of the youngest 10 and 2 of the youngest 20. (CM, Lindgren)

BU, DU, MTU, Notre Dame, uw, and the WHL each had 1.

If the Gophers are going to get back to where they should be, they need to lock down the most talented Minnesotans again. Missing on Fleming and Howard is tough. Hopefully Lucius makes it to campus and sticks around for at least two years. They do well with keeping defensemen but top forwards are going to UND which has been an NHL forward factory. Kids from around Duluth and the Range are heading to UMD and will be borderline impossible to steal.

It will be very interesting to see the turnout at Mariucci when things are back to normal. The team is much better, but a Russian across town is likely going to captivate an entire generation of young Minnesotans.
 
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GopherPete

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Rangers play Isles (Leddy) tonight at 6 on NHL Network and he should get a lot of minutes on the top pair with Adam Fox. All six Rangers D will be Americans including K'Andre Miller making his debut from Tonka (though he's dead to me as a badger).
Dead to you, but you just had to mention him haha. You crack me up Bonin
 

GopherPete

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Got some games in the AHL but if you can't skate well you'll never make the NHL these days. That's why Ranta is the most likely forward on the current team to stick in the NHL and Reedy and Meyers will have a tough time making it.

That's also a big reason Mittelstadt isn't up there yet. His skating was never great.
Budish was a solid player, but I always felt he hampered Bjugstad and Rau with his lack of speed and playmaking, always wished they would have put a guy like Condon or Boyd on that line instead.
 

bonin21

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Quick updates:
-Mittelstadt and/or Okposo potential season debuts for BUF today
-Boyd up from TOR taxi squad with Matthews/Thornton injuries. Could play on 4 game road trip.
-Ness up to ARI taxi squad
-Seeler did not agree to go to CHI AHL, now a free agent

Stats:
NameGPPTSNote
Wheeler52-5-73rd on team in forward points
Kessel54-0-4T-4th on team in forward points
Haula40-1-1T-7th on team in forward points
Bjugstad50-1-1T-6th on team in forward points

Holl60-4-4+2. 3rd on team in D TOI/GP (21:15)
Leddy40-3-3+0. 2nd on team in D TOI/GP (20:32)
Schmidt71-1-2-1. 2nd on team in D TOI/GP (22:39)
Reilly40-2-2-1. 5th on team in D TOI/GP (16:39)
Goligoski50-1-1+2. 1st on team in D TOI/GP (22:00)
Skjei30-0-0-2. 4th on team in D TOI/GP (19:54)
Lindgren40-0-0+0. 3rd on team in D TOI/GP (18:13)
Johnson10-0-0+0. 9th on team in D TOI/GP (11:47)
Alt10-0-0+0. 8th on team in D TOI/GP (11:32)
 
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bonin21

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Might have been a Gopher fan choosing this pic for the front page of NHL.com tonight.
Screenshot 2021-01-25 at 11.08.46 PM.png
 

noamfromm

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In the first few nights of the NHL some Gophers are getting on the scoresheet, mostly with assists. Kessel scored, though. Bjugstad started on the Wild's 1st line and ended up on the 4th. I think a big reason behind that is his skating holds him back, like I mentioned about other Gopher forwards.

I also pulled the 20 youngest Minnesotans that have played in the NHL, showing how frustrating the recent Gopher recruiting was.

SCSU has 3 of the youngest 10 and 4 of the youngest 20.
UMD has 2 of the youngest 10 and 4 of the youngest 20.
UND has 1 of the youngest 10 (Boeser, the biggest recruiting miss of the last 10 years) and 4 of the youngest 20.
UMN has 2 of the youngest 10 and 2 of the youngest 20. (CM, Lindgren)

BU, DU, MTU, Notre Dame, uw, and the WHL each had 1.

If the Gophers are going to get back to where they should be, they need to lock down the most talented Minnesotans again. Missing on Fleming and Howard is tough. Hopefully Lucius makes it to campus and sticks around for at least two years. They do well with keeping defensemen but top forwards are going to UND which has been an NHL forward factory. Kids from around Duluth and the Range are heading to UMD and will be borderline impossible to steal.

It will be very interesting to see the turnout at Mariucci when things are back to normal. The team is much better, but a Russian across town is likely going to captivate an entire generation of young Minnesotans.
Are you counting Kieffer Bellows as BU or WHL?
 


noamfromm

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Budish was a solid player, but I always felt he hampered Bjugstad and Rau with his lack of speed and playmaking, always wished they would have put a guy like Condon or Boyd on that line instead.
Iirc, he only played with them in '11-'12. In '12-'13 Don had many different people with them, with Isackson getting a fair bit of play on their line.
 






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