TheWolverine - JT Compher Signs With Colorado, Foregoes Senior Year
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JT Compher Signs With Colorado, Foregoes Senior Year

It's complete. Michigan finished its 2015-16 hopeful that one, two or three NHL prospects would return for another year. Instead, with junior center JT Compher announcing today he has signed with the Colorado Avalanche, U-M has lost five underclassmen to pro contracts.

Compher represented the last bastion of hope for the Maize and Blue, who already saw defensemen Michael Downing and Zach Werenski, and forwards Tyler Motte and Kyle Connor all leave after the Wolverines' season ended March 26 in an NCAA Midwest Regional finals loss to North Dakota.

Compher had held out longer than they had -- reportedly to finish taking finals for his winter-term classes (he is in the Business School) -- but ultimately made the same decision that classmates Motte and Downing, sophomore Werenski, and freshman Connor, all did.

With the five leaving, Michigan says goodbye to 97 goals and 149 assists. Throw in graduated seniors Boo Nieves and Justin Selman and the Wolverines saw 66.3 percent of their goals and 61.0 percent of their assists walk out the door this spring.

There was nothing that could be done about Nieves or Selman, and there was no going back on Downing, Werenski, Motte or Connor, but Berenson was hopeful that Compher would be different, telling TheWolverine.com last week that U-M's captain was critical to next year's efforts.

“If he decides to return for his senior year it would be huge,” Berenson said. “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.”

Instead, Michigan will be starting from scratch more so now than any time during Berenson's 32 seasons (U-M has never lost five underclassmen in one year), with rising sophomore Cooper Marody or rising senior Max Shuart likely being promoted to first-line center.

TheWolverine.com will have more on this story in the hours and days to come.