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Five Questions Facing Penn State Hockey This Offseason

by on March 19, 2020 2:00 PM

Penn State's season did not end exactly how anyone planned it to, but the offseason is the offseason and while the future of sports is still on hold, one can assume that eventually sports will in fact return. And when it does, so will Penn State hockey.

Here are five things to ponder in the meanwhile.

New Faces:

With 10 players graduating and almost certainly one or two more departing early for the professional ranks there won't be a shortage of new faces on the 2020-21 roster. College hockey recruiting is a bit more confusing and convoluted than other sports with 17 players committed to the 2020 class but almost certainly with far fewer actually enrolling this summer while still remaining committed to Penn State. Trust me.

Goaltender Liam Souliere is a lock to enroll and U18 member Daniyal Dzhaniyev seems likely to be not far behind. Only two of the 10 known departures are defensemen so Penn State's incoming class will likely reflect a more forward-friendly selection of choices. Only five defenseman are part of Penn State's current 2020 class. We can unpack who might actually end up on campus this Fall at a later date. 

Hello, Liam:

Penn State delayed the enrollment of Souliere last season and held him for the 2020 class in order to save a year of eligibility with Peyton Jones set to get the majority of the starts last season. Souliere has been waiting in the wings for a while now and will go head to head with Oskar Autio for the starting job. It wouldn't be a shock if Penn State goes to the dueling goaltender rotation again with these two until someone stings together solid outings. Souliere hasn't had a save % worse than .917 over the past four seasons in the BCHL and CCHL. Autio already has a few starts under his belt and looked plenty capable in them.

Mr. C:

You can argue that Penn State will miss the production of its seniors more than anything else, but what the Nittany Lions will miss the most is the leadership and experience that group brought to the table. No more Brandon Biro or Liam Folkes or Kris Myllari means a lot of lost starts.

It's always a guessing game when it comes to picking who the next captain might be, but a healthy Aarne Talvitie is certainly as talented as anyone on Penn State's roster and his role at World Junior's as Finland's captain gives him some experience in that realm. Equally true, Penn State has recruiting a lot of captains over the years, so there's rarely a shortage of guys who have never led before.

Changes?:

Penn State and Guy Gadowsky can attribute a lot of success to staff stability, both Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay in their assistant roles for the duration of Gadowsky's tenure. The addition of volunteer coach Andrew Magera has been a positive and Director of Ops Alex Dawes has been one of the more under appreciate assets in the program's rise. Sooner or later all of this will change, but it doesn't have to be this season.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?:

The most immediate question facing Penn State are the futures of Cole Hults (LA Kings) and Evan Barratt. The former is coming off another strong season while Barratt has reached the end of his junior season, when most people projected him to leave for some part of the Chicago Blackhawks' organization. Penn State will gladly take both players for another year but has also been working under the assumption that at least one of them is headed out the door. The current sports-wide standstill doesn't help this process any but there is no immediate deadline for a decision so this could drag out a bit.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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