Wolverines, Spartans picked to struggle in Big Ten
It looks like it’s going to be a long season for Michigan and Michigan State.
The Wolverines and Spartans were picked sixth and seventh respectively in the seven-team Big Ten conference in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Michigan finished fourth last season after being picked for second but has lost first-round NHL draft picks defenseman Quinn Hughes and center Josh Norris.
However, U-M returns three of its top four scorers in Will Lockwood (16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points), Jake Slaker (11-14-25) and Nick Pastujov (11-13-24).
The Wolverines also add two first-round picks in their freshmen class in defenseman Cam York, who was taken 14th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in June’s NHL draft, and center Jon Beecher, who was selected at No. 30 by the Boston Bruins.
Lockwood is a second-team preseason all-conference pick while York and senior goalie Hayden Lavigne are honorable mentions.
Michigan State is picked last for the fourth consecutive season.
The Spartans lost last season’s Big Ten scoring champion Taro Hirose to the Red Wings after his junior campaign but return forwards Patrick Khodorenko (18-19-37), Mitchell Lewandowski (16-18-34) and defenseman Dennis Cesana (3-21-24).
Lewandowski and Cesana are on the second team, and Khodorenko and defenseman Jerad Rosburg are among the honorable mentions.
Here is the complete Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll:
1. Penn State
2. Notre Dame
4. Ohio State
7. Michigan State
Broncos nationally ranked
Western Michigan is the only state school to make the USCHO Men’s Division I Preseason Rankings. The Broncos are No. 14.
Michigan received 20 votes and Lake Superior State three.