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Penn State Hockey: Gadowsky Optimistic Draftees Will Return

by on March 27, 2019 4:40 PM

While the offseason is still young, Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky is optimistic that all eligible skaters will be returning for next season.

"At this point I don't have any information that anybody will be leaving and that's great. Hopefully it'll stay that way," Gadowsky said during his season-ending press conference on Wednesday.

In total, Penn State has four players on the current roster representing NHL teams as draft choices. Cole Hults (LA) Nikita Pavlychev (Pitt) Evan Barratt (Chi) and Denis Smirnov (Col) have all heard their name called by NHL executives and are all immediately eligible to sign entry-level deals.

As a reminder: With a few exceptions, NHL teams maintain the rights to their respective draftees for the duration of their collegiate careers. In turn, the potential for a player signing an entry-level deal poses a much different threat to roster stability than that of other sports where the possibility of transfer offers no financial benefits.

Equally true, players are more prone to sign deals heading into their senior seasons, opting for more concrete and more lucrative entry level contracts than those found in free agency once their NCAA careers expire. North American skaters 18-20 years old and European skaters 18-21 years old are eligible for the entry draft. Beyond that age, all players are technically available in the free agency pool.

The good news for Penn State, both soon-to-be-seniors in Smirnov and Pavlychev seem content to play out the rest of their collegiate careers. Smirnov looking to bounce back from a somewhat underwhelming 2018-19 campaign while Pavlychev continues to develop his own game on both ends of the ice. A source told on Wednesday night that Pavlychev intends on returning for his final year in State College.

As for Hults and Barratt, both have multiple years of eligibility remaining at Penn State with neither NHL team publicly expressing any urgency to move them up the ladder. Of course what they say in front of the cameras and what they are doing behind the scenes can be very different things.

The only remaining question mark would be rising forward Alex Limoges, too old to be drafted, but coming off a breakout season. Asked about his future a few weeks ago, Limoges sounded genuinely happy to be at Penn State and in no particular rush for what might lie ahead, but with NHL teams likely to be knocking on his door, it's always a hard call to turn down the future you've always wanted. Similarly, goaltender Peyton Jones who fielded professional offers last summer. 

While the possibility for anyone, both player or team, to change their minds still remains, Gadowsky seems optimistic that many of his core players from a 22-win season will be returning to the Pegula ice for another season.

"I think the team feels that we have some unfinished business here," Gadowsky added.

And if Penn State's only offseason departures are its senior class, they will have a good chance to finish that business in 2019-20.

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