The Colorado Avalanche have announced a three-year, entry-level contract for University of Michigan forward JT Compher.
Compher was a part of the lethal “CCM Line” at Michigan, scoring 16 goals and 63 points in 38 games. That line contained three of the nation’s top four scorers, including Compher, who was also the team’s captain, coming in second.
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) April 25, 2016
With this signing it becomes official that all three members of that line have gone pro, as have six of Michigan’s top seven scorers. That latter group includes the team’s top defenseman Zach Werenski (CBJ), and seniors Justin Selman and Cristoval Nieves (NYR). Defenseman Michael Downing has also decided to turn pro.
It’s the first time Michigan has lost five underclassmen in a single offseason.
Compher, a Second Team All-American, just completed his junior season and could have returned, but will instead join the Avs. With the exit of so many players, returning to make a run at a national championship must have looked daunting. This season was this group’s best shot at a title. They made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament where they were defeated by the eventual national champion North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
Michigan's JT Compher snipes the top right corner while sliding to his left, what a shot pic.twitter.com/dFhDOs3SRi
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 26, 2016
The departure of all these players is a big blow to the program. Coach Red Berenson, as recently as last week, held out hope that Compher might stay.
“If he decides to return for his senior year it would be huge,” Berenson told The Wolverine. “He’s talented and has proven he can anchor a top line. He plays the game the right way. He’s a leader. He wore the ‘C’ this past year and would be our captain next year so he would lend an immediate leadership presence to our team that we’re going to need with a lot of young guys.
“We won’t have a lot of proven forwards but we’d have JT and [rising senior] Alex Kile, and if you remember in 2008, we had two great seniors and 10 freshmen and we went to the Frozen Four.”
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 25, 2016
Before the Northbrook, Ill. native heads to Colorado, he’ll head to Moscow to play for Team USA at the 2016 World Championship, which kicks off on May 6. There, he’ll be reunited with the “CCM Line” one last time as Kyle Connor (WPG) and Tyler Motte (CHI) are both playing for Team USA as well.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.