UPDATE: Anthony Siderio and Brendan Shane will no longer be attending UConn. They are still listed as UConn commits on several hockey recruiting websites.
The future is bright for the UConn men's hockey team. In their first season in Hockey East, the Huskies exceeded expectations, finishing in ninth place out of 12 Hockey East teams, and the future is even brighter.
UConn is bringing in a strong freshman class for the 2015-16 season. Several newcomers will be able to impact Mike Cavanaugh's team right away.
At least nine players are expected to sign with the Huskies this spring. Here is a quick look at the expected freshman class for next season.
- Tage Thompson, Forward: The best recruit UConn has ever gotten will sign in April for the 2015-16 season, one year earlier than originally expected. The 17-year-old forward has spent the last season playing with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. In 33 games with the U.S. Under-18 National Team, Thompson scored 10 goals and added seven assists. Thompson scored goals against several Division I teams in October, including Michigan and Cornell. Being a late 1997, Thompson is not eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, so his freshman year with UConn will be his final audition for the 2016 draft. He chose the Huskies after visiting several big programs, according to Will Moran.
- Miles Gendron, Defenseman: Unless Cavanaugh grabs another one late in the process, Gendron is the only defenseman expected to sign for 2015-16, which is quite alright. Gendron was the 70th overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft by the Ottawa Senators. A native of Oakville, Ontario, Gendron has 17 points in 54 games with the Penticton Vees in the BCHL. He should be an impact player right away for UConn.
- Karl El-Mir, Left Wing/Center: El-Mir has the potential to be an impact player right away for UConn, much like Spencer Naas. The Quebec native had an amazing 2013-14 season after committing to UConn, 17 goals and recording 31 assists in 27 games for Selects Hockey Academy 18U. He was named the top USPHL U-18 player by Junior Hockey as a result. In 2014-15, El-Mir six goals and had five assists with Salmon Arm SilverBacks in the British Columbia Hockey League, and he has three and three in seven games so far with the Grand Prairie Storm in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
- Ben Freeman, Right Wing: Freeman committed to UConn in 2013 after visiting Union, UMass Lowell and his home-state school Maine (Freeman is from Falmouth). He is a forward built like UConn defenseman David Drake. At 6-feet-4-inches, he will be two inches taller than any other UConn forward. He was the 12th pick in the 2013 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft and is described as a power forward. In a 2013 interview with Mike McMahon of College Hockey News, Freeman said he tries to model his game after Joe Thornton. According to SB Nation's Jeff Cox, Freeman may need a year of junior hockey before going to UConn.
- Tyson McLellan, Center: McLellan is in his second season with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League, where he was teammates with UConn defenseman Derek Pratt in 2013-14. He recorded nine points (four goals and five assists) in 46 games in 2013-14, and he has matched that in 29 this season. McLellan was voted Waterloo's Most Improved Player by his teammates after his first season.
- Marco Richter, Forward: Richter is an interesting pickup for Cavanaugh, as he hails from Austria, where he was a dynamic scorer. Playing for the Lower Austria Stars in the Austria U-20 division in 2013-14, Richter scored 39 goals and had 28 assists in 46 games. He is playing with the Madison Capitols in the USHL this season. In 35 games, he has eight goals and four assists. In Division I-A of the World Junior Championships, where Austria finished fifth, Richter captained Austria and was the tournament's fifth-leading scorer with four goals and three assists. Richter does take a lot of penalties. He has accumulated 44 penalty minutes with Madison, and he had 97 in 2013-14.
- Tanner Creel, Goaltender: Creel sat out the 2014-15 Division I hockey season after playing five games with Army in 2013-14. During the 2014-15 season, he played 15 games with the P.A.L. Junior Islanders in the USPHL, posting a 3.6 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. In 17 games with the struggling Odessa Jackalopes in the North American Hockey League, he has a .877 save percentage and a 4.17 goals against average. The Birmingham, Alabama native will be the fourth Odessa goaltender to play Division I hockey. Most notable among the other three is Connor Hellebuyck, who led UMass Lowell to back-to-back Hockey East tournament titles in 2013 and 2014.
Thompson toured Boston College, New Hampshire, Providence, Northeastern, Brown and Yale. Chose the Huskies.— Will Moran (@goalmouthradio) August 22, 2014