College Hockey’s Transfer Portal: Who’s Going Where? – The Hockey Writers – NCAA

The 2024 Men’s Frozen Four concludes Sunday, April 13. With only four teams remaining, many top NHL prospects have already announced their moves to other top schools. Most notable of the prospects are 2023 first-round picks Matthew Wood and Charlie Stramel, as well as Eric Pohlkamp and Cruz Lucius.

Matthew Wood

Wood was the Nashville Predators’ 2023 15th overall selection after scoring 11 goals and 34 points in 35 games for the University of Connecticut his draft year. He is a big-body, physical winger who possesses a strong wrist shot. He was a consensus top prospect and was expected to take big strides this season. After scoring 16 goals and just 28 points, he has announced his transfer to the University of Minnesota, which now becomes one of the favorites for the 2025 National Championship.

Matthew Wood, University of Connecticut (Image courtesy of UConn Athletic Communications)

His decision came at a similar time to St. Louis Blues’ top prospect Jimmy Snuggerud announcing he would be returning to Minnesota for his junior year season. Snuggerud had 21 goals and 34 points this past season and is expected to play on Wood’s line on the opposing wing. The two will join forces to become one of the most dominant offensive lines in college hockey and will help one another take multiple steps in development. Wood’s hard-nosed, power-forward playstyle mixed with Snuggerud’s elite shot will allow the two to spend time with other highly skilled players, something Wood did not get much of with Connecticut these past two seasons.

Eric Pohlkamp

Pohlkamp was one of the older players selected in the 2023 Draft, going 132nd to the San Jose Sharks. The right-handed defenseman spent this season with Bemidji State University where he had 11 goals and 24 points in 32 games. He is by no means an offensive defenseman, but his numbers were impressive for a rookie, finishing second in goals for the team. As he hopes to continue his development, he will be joining the University of Denver next season.

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Denver is one of the best atmospheres for defensemen, with head coach David Carle most recently turning Zeev Buium, a 2024 Draft eligible, into a dominant offensive defenseman. While Pohlkamp may not use the three remaining years of eligibility in college, he will make strides in development during his time in Denver, regardless of how long it lasts.

Charlie Stramel

Stramel, just like Wood, spent his draft season in the NCAA as a member of the University of Wisconsin. He was a lottery pick-hopeful entering the season, but his five goals and 12 points in 33 games had many questioning if he would go in the first round. He ended up being selected 21st by the Minnesota Wild, a franchise that has a surplus of young talent. Entering his second season in the NCAA, he was expected to boom as a prospect, but did the opposite, having just three goals and eight points. As a result, he is expected to transfer to Michigan State.

Charlie Stramel Wisconsin Badgers
Charlie Stramel, Wisconsin Badgers (Tom Lynn/UW Athletics)

Staying in the Big Ten conference, Stramel is joining Michigan with the hopes of finding an elevated role on a team that can help develop his offensive game. His struggles at Wisconsin stem from a lack of opportunity under new coaching. At Michigan, he will reconnect with his former USA Hockey coach, Adam Nightingale. Stramel will hope to leave and get into the top-six for Michigan, a role he failed to obtain with Wisconsin, playing a more offensive-oriented style of hockey. As a Wild prospect, he will hope to grow comfortable in a green sweater as he hopes to join Minnesota in the coming seasons.

Cruz Lucius

Lucius was an out-of-the-blue name to enter the transfer portal. He was selected 124th by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2022 but was part of the Jake Guentzel trade where he ended up on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has spent the past two seasons with Wisconsin, scoring 24 goals and 68 points in 70 games. While it is currently unknown where he ends up, there are a few schools that could make sense for the 20-year-old right wing.

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The two likely deciding factors in transferring are contending for a national title and development. With Boston University gaining top 2024 draftees Cole Eiserman and Kamil Bednarik, as well as currently having one of the best teams in the country as they are competing in the Frozen Four, they stick out as a school that would be a fit. Other schools he could look at are Boston College, the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, and the University of Denver.

It appears as if hockey is finally catching up to the use of the transfer portal in college sports, and it could not happen at a better time. As the NCAA season concludes and fans gain a better picture of the favorites for next year’s national championship, be sure to keep an eye on these top prospects who embark on the next parts of their journeys.