There are still more than 160 men's hockey players in the NCAA transfer portal.

Don't be tricked by that high number though.

The vast majority of them are seniors who didn't have a spot available for them next season, underclassmen who were cut from their programs or those who couldn't find their way into the lineup at their program.

Consider: There are 65 skaters (forwards/defensemen) currently in the portal who tallied one or zero points last season.

While the sheer volume of players in the portal is still high, the number of impact players is thinning out.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Three of the most prominent players in the portal picked their destination in the last two days. Denver captain Kohen Olischefski committed to Providence, Colorado College captain Grant Cruikshank committed to Minnesota and UMass Lowell forward Matt Brown committed to Boston University.

That leaves some, but not many, forwards who have the potential to play in the top six in the portal.

There's still a good chance UND will look to add a forward from the portal, which narrows down the options.

Who could the Fighting Hawks be looking at?

Here are five intriguing options at forward:

1. Ashton Calder, Lake Superior State. Calder has good size at 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, and he can shoot the puck. He tied for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's goal lead (16) with Bowling Green's Connor Ford, who previously announced he's transferring to UND. Calder plays right wing, which could help. Of UND's projected 14 forwards for next season, nine are left-handed and five are right-handed (Riese Gaber, Judd Caulfield, Griffin Ness, Louis Jamernik, Carson Albrecht). Calder has two years of eligibility remaining.

2. Jack Adams, Union. At 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, Adams offers tremendous size. The sixth-round Detroit Red Wings draft pick has some skill to go along with it. He tallied 10 goals and 22 points in 38 games for Union in 2018-19. But Adams suffered an injury during the 2019 Red Wings summer camp and has not been healthy since. He missed the entire 2019-20 season, then transferred to Providence this season after Union opted out. He played six games with Providence and didn't get a point before transferring back to Union to finish his degree. Adams, who played junior hockey in Fargo, is a right-handed shot. While it's hard to know what you're going to get from a player that hasn't really played in two years, if he pops, Adams could be a nice find.

3. Cameron Wright, Bowling Green. Like Calder, Wright's best attribute is his shot. . . and Wright shoots the puck a lot. Only Hobey Baker Award winner Cole Caufield registered more shots on goal this season than Wright. He might not have Ford's finishing ability or Boston College-bound teammate Brandon Kruse's skill level, but Wright has produced 20 points in every college season at Bowling Green. Like Calder and Adams, Wright shoots right-handed and plays right wing. He has one year left.

4. Phil Knies, Miami. The Miami captain probably isn't going to play top-six role, but he can be a very effective bottom-six player and add a little bit of offense. His production waned later in his career as Miami struggled to score, but he did tally 11 goals in the NCHC as a freshman, which is impressive. He played in all situations last season for the RedHawks. While he might not have as much offensive upside as the others, he's also a safer bet and you know what you're going to get. Sometimes, if a skilled player can't play in the top six, they also struggle to fit in among the bottom six. You don't have to worry about that with Knies, who has one year of eligibility left.

5. Pierre-Luc (Pete) Veillette, Lake Superior State. UND likes to recruit some size if possible. Veillette is not in that category at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, but the left winger's production catches your attention. He was Lake Superior State's second-leading scorer behind Calder this season with 13 goals and 27 points. How will that production translate in a more difficult league? That's anybody's guess. Veillette has two years of eligibility remaining.

So far, 37 of the 61 college hockey teams have grabbed at least one player out of the portal this offseason.

Quinnipiac and Long Island University lead the way with five transfers. UND and Arizona State have four.

For a full list of transfer destinations and players in the portal, see the Herald's online transfer board.

Jackson Kunz on fire

Another bit of work for the UND coaching staff is deciding which freshmen are coming to campus.

Forward Jackson Kunz of Grand Forks is making his case.

Kunz has been red hot as of late for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League, tallying nine points in his last six games. He had two goals on Monday night against Dubuque.

His second goal Monday was particularly impressive. While skating up the right wing on a rush, Kunz knocked down a pass out of mid-air, settled it on the ice, powered through a defenseman who was trying to close him off into the boards, beat him to get space, snapped a wrist shot on net from the right circle, skated to the crease and grabbed his own rebound to put it home.

Kunz now has 22 goals on the season, which ranks 10th in the league and first on his team. He plays on a line with incoming freshman Jake Schmaltz, who has 51 points in 49 games this season.

Only one of Kunz's 22 goals this season has come on the power play, where he operates the goal line/net front spot for the Gamblers.

SCSU, WMU with lots of returners

Five NCHC schools have grabbed at least one player from the portal. Three have not yet.

Western Michigan and St. Cloud State might not have much room. Both schools recently revealed they are expecting the bulk of their rosters to return.

Western Michigan announced forwards Josh Passolt, Ethen Frank and Paul Washe will come back for their fifth year with the Broncos, while defenseman Ronnie Attard, a Philadelphia Flyers pick, is returning for his junior year. That means the Broncos could have their top 10 scorers back.

St. Cloud State coach Brett Larson said in an interview that senior forward Easton Brodzinski and senior defenseman Seamus Donohue will be back for their fifth year, while he also thinks it's likely that defenseman Nick Perbix and forwards Sam Hentges and Kevin Fitzgerald will return.

The other team that hasn't gone into the portal yet is Denver. The Pioneers grabbed two of the most highly touted players out of the transfer portal last summer -- forward Steven Jandric from Alaska Fairbanks and defenseman Bo Hanson from St. Lawrence -- and neither ended up being a key player.

Colorado College grabbed its first player out of the portal Tuesday morning, securing a commitment from forward Noah Prokop, who played two seasons at Omaha.

Briefly

  • Michigan Tech coach Joe Shawhan signed a three-year contract extension Tuesday. Shawhan has been at Michigan Tech since May 2017.