Coming and Going: A Portal Update
Checking in with where MSU sits with departures and arrivals via the transfer portal
It is April 7th and at this point we have seen just under (I mean like…2 players away or so) 200 names enter the transfer portal for NCAA hockey. We had 60 teams in NCAA D1 last season (soon to be 63 with the return of Robert Morris, and addition of Lindenwood (MO) and Stonehill (MA). Let’s say on average most teams carry around what MSU did last season, 26 players. 26 multiplied by 60 equals 1560 players. Meaning close to 12% of the entire population from college hockey has entered the portal since the season ended, and for 4 teams playing in the Frozen Four starting today, their season’s have not even ended yet. This has of course included Michigan State being very active in the coming and going of the portal.
As Danton Cole said at his post season press availability the roster for Michigan State was going to see quite the turnover. Cole is aware his seat is extremely warm, and the athletics offices at 1855 place will be watching the results of the upcoming season extremely close. This means whether he believes in the portal or not, sustainable or not, Cole needed to use the portal to remake his roster on the fly, to get enough wins to maybe stave off his firing long enough to build a roster the way he may prefer. You don’t build a title team in the portal, you supplement a roster missing certain things through the roster. However, Cole right now is looking to find enough wins and talent to contribute right away to save a job. A guy who has come from AHL coaching and been in the pro ranks before, may be feeling more like he is back in that like than the college game right about now.
As the Frozen Four kicks off in a few hours, I thought I would take some time today to update where the roster sits for the Spartans presently, make some guesses on what is to come, and cover where (now) former players are landing/where I think they will land.
Drew DeRidder Sr. G- Committed to North Dakota. Easily the biggest loss suffered by the Spartans in the portal, despite what I think was a .00001% chance of DeRidder returning. DeRidder played excellent in his time at MSU, was under siege for the last 2 seasons as primary starter, and deserves a chance to play playoff hockey with meaning. I am not sure with his frame that DeRidder has much more than an AHL ceiling, so playing an extra Covid year of college hockey makes sense, and better believe I will be watching more NCHC games hoping for the best for a great Spartan.
Christian Krygier + Cole Krygier Sr. D- Both guys have not made a commitment yet, and I read this as testing their options out against pro options. Each was a late round NHL selection (Cole-7th round Florida Panthers, Christian-7th New York Islanders) and may or may not have NHL ELC’s on the table. They are 2000 born, so really young by college hockey senior standards, could play one more NCAA season then turn pro. I think they may each receive some low end NCHC options and Hockey East options but gun to my head? They each are playing in the AHL next winter.
Aidan Gallacher Soph. D- While DeRidder hurt the most to lose, Gallacher was unexpected and losing at his position hurt the most. When Gallacher hit the portal MSU was now sitting at just 5 defensemen, including incoming freshman Matt Basgall. Gallacher was a pretty solid Dman, made mistakes as a young player, but I liked his potential. I imagine he will end up in the CCHA logging big minutes or somewhere out East.
Kristof Papp Soph. F- I don’t like to make public prognostications on a guy leaving the team, I like all our players while they are here and after. Papp was someone that privately I told people I expected to hit the portal. A high upside offensive forward, Papp was someone who seemed to catch hell from coach Cole often, and was mired on the 3rd line in a role that he wasn’t best fit for. I thought he was better this season, but the goals still didn’t come. I expect he stays in North America, but if he is over school he could always decide to head to Europe and start his pro career. I expect him to receive good offers on upside and maybe hit a lower NCHC team or ECAC/Hockey East.
Josh Nodler Jr. C- Committed to UMass. Like Papp I always thought Cole rode Nodler pretty hard to reach his potential. The Calgary Flames draft pick easily had his best season in Green & White, was playing a 200 ft. game and someone I was stung by losing for sure. I read this situation as a guy with one more year to get ready for a pro career, who has been frustrated and wants to play for a championship. He will get that opportunity at UMass.
Adam Goodsir Sr. F- I would have taken Goodsir back for his hard play, and leadership. He has not committed yet so I look at him as someone maybe play one more year, get some grad school paid for, maybe play some pro hockey, or start his non hockey career. Hope he sticks in the Lansing area when he is done as a leader for Lansing hockey.
Zach Dubinsky 2 yrs eligibility remaining, F- Previously w/ RPI- Dubinsky comes to the Spartans after previously playing in the ECAC with RPI. RPI cancelled their entire season in 2020-21 due to Covid, and last season played with no fans in the arena (including NHL Scouts), and has since seen a huge wave of portal entrants. Dubinsky is a Chicagoland native, grew up playing Chicago Mission with Spartan defensemen Cal Dybicz, and a solid middle 6 addition to the Spartans. He will play C most likely, looking to be a key faceoff man in the mold of Tommy Apap and Krisof Papp. In the goal clipped below (start at the 1:20 mark) I like how Dubinsky is strong on his skates, not the quickest guy in the world here, but shows shiftiness to evade defenders, and slides the puck home by picking his spot to beat the goaltender. This is a solid pickup with a guy who scored 10 goals in NCAA hockey last season (would have been 3rd on MSU behind Middendorf-12 & Davidson-11). Right now I slot him in his 2/3rd line C and think he will have the chance to make 2nd PP.
Justin Jallen 1 yr remaining F- Previously with Brown. Leading scorer at Brown last season, on a team that like Michigan State, struggled mightily offensively. A true leader, was a captain at Brown, and I made sure to reach out to his junior coach from the NE Generals of the NAHL who had only great things to say about Jallen. I love his upside as a responsible, veteran player, who can come to Michigan State as a person to change the culture in the locker room. Jallen will be looking to play B1G Hockey to elevate his pro potential opportunities and I think the Minnesota native will feel very comfortable in East Lansing. I slot him in as 2nd line F ceiling, but could be a leader on the PK and improve the floor of the 3rd floor greatly.
Michael Underwood 1 yr remaining D- Previously with Clarkson. As mentioned in the Gallacher outgoing above, MSU really needs DMen. Underwood, a Bloomfield Hills native, comes home for a grad year with the Spartans. Clarkson is a great program, so he has seen how to be a part of a winning culture, and will bring that to East Lansing. 129 NCAA games player, just 18 points, so you know you are getting a defensemen who comes in focused in his own end. The Spartans need to add I believe 2 more DMen in the portal, so it is hard to project where Underwood will slot in, but due to his experience I have to think he is a top 4 player with Gucciardi and Nienhuis.