Following Michigan’s second consecutive Frozen Four loss, the players were still on the ice when I thought to myself, “I hope Fantilli comes back.” Undeniably a selfish request, but following the mass exodus of 2022, can you blame me?
Following last year’s defeat in the national semifinal, Michigan lost a staggering 14 of its 29 players: Owen Power, Matty Beniers, Kent Johnson, Brendan Brisson, Thomas Bordeleau, Nick Blankenburg, Johnny Beecher, Michael Pastujov, Jimmy Lambert, Garrett Van Wyhe, Jacke Leavy, Luke Morgan, Jack Summers and Jake Gingell, and not to mention head coach Mel Pearson.
This year, the number is expected to be around seven, which bodes well for team chemistry and national championship aspirations in 2024.
Based on what we learned in the past week, let’s take a look at this season’s roster with their 2022 stats and piece together what Team 102 could look like.
The Michigan Wolverines are guaranteed to lose two of their top three scorers, but are also likely to return eight of their top 12 scorers. If fans’ prayers are answered, Michigan could return 10 of its top producers.
F Rutger McGroarty (18-21-39) - Confirmed
F TJ Hughes (13-23-36) - Highly expected
F Dylan Duke (18-14-32) - Confirmed
D Seamus Casey (8-21-29) - Highly expected
F Jackson Hallum (6-11-17) - LOCK
D Jacob Truscott (4-12-16) - LOCK
D Ethan Edwards (4-10-14) - Highly expected
F Mark Estapa (5-7-12) - LOCK
F Frank Nazar (2-5-7) - Highly Expected
D Luca Fantilli (2-5-7) - LOCK
D Steven Holtz (1-6-7) - LOCK
F Philippe Lapointe (2-3-5) - LOCK
D Johnny Druskinis (0-2-2) - LOCK
F Kienan Draper (1-0-1) - LOCK
D Brendan Miles (0-0-0) - LOCK
G Noah West (.920 save percentage) - LOCK
5th Years In the Portal
F Eric Ciccolini (7-4-11) - Committed to Clarkson
D Keaton Pehrson (0-11-11) - Committed to North Dakota
F Nick Granowicz (4-6-10)
5th Years (NOT) In the Portal
Jay Keranen (1-4-5) is expected to be granted one more year of eligibility and could be a team captain next season.
Adam Fantilli (30-35-65)
Shall we pray? While two seasons and out is the typical college route for NHL first round draft picks, Fantilli is not your typical freshman. The Hobey Baker Award winner will await the NHL Draft (June 28) before making his decision, but the consensus future No. 2 pick could have skated his last game for the Wolverines. If he returns, it immediately becomes championship or bust next season.
Gavin Brindley (12-26-38)
Brindley will also probably wait until the NHL Draft before deciding, but he is widely expected to return to Ann Arbor. If Brindley decides early, it could influence his linemate Fantilli’s decision.
D Luke Hughes (10-38-48) - Signed and has already played with the New Jersey Devils
F Mackie Samoskevich (20-23-43) - Signed with the Charlotte Checkers (FLA AHL affiliate)
F Nolan Moyle (3-4-7) - Out of eligibility
G Erik Portillo - Signed with Ontario Reign (LA AHL affiliate)
G Tyler Shea - Entered the portal
Freshmen with Signed NLI’s
More freshmen are on the way, especially with the coaching movement in Madison and the transfer portal only warming up in April. However, these four will be in Ann Arbor next season.
F Tanner Rowe
F Nick Moldenhauer
F Garrett Schifsky
G Marcus Brannman
Commits from the portal
Boston College D Marshall Warren
Next year’s team will once again be young, but not nearly as youthful as Team 101. However, several questions still surround the team.
Should head coach Brandon Naurato look for center depth and another goalie in the portal? Will either Fantilli or Brindley return? Will any more freshmen join the fold? Can McGroarty, Hughes, Casey, Hallum and Nazar take a sophomore leap?
The Wolverines certainly have the bones and the talent of a contender next season, but winning a national championship requires more than that. As Naurato said in March, “One thing I told the guys at the beginning of the year, and I think it rings true, is that ‘it’s not the most talented teams that win at the end. It’s the teams that play together and it’s the teams that are closest.’”
Shortly after the NHL Draft, we should know exactly which players will have the chance to be the closest team in the country next season.