Arizona State hockey coach Greg Powers has said it since the the final buzzer sounded on last season: The program plans to reload, not rebuild following last year's title run.
The Sun Devils graduated eight seniors, meaning they needed to bring in new talent. Powers said the six he has committed to the team next season will most likely be entirety of the recruiting class.
"In all likelihood, we are done," Powers said of committing players.
He acknowledged that he expected 150 players at open tryouts, and that there are three spots to be won at tryouts. He said Coda Engbar, who played on the Division II Elite team last year, is expected to take one of those spots.
If Powers is indeed done recruiting, he assembled quite the class. Among them are forwards Connor Mailey, Mak Barden and Jared Morris, as well as defensemen Gianni Mangone, Connor Schmidt and Ed McGovern. Powers did not recruit a goalie.
"These guys all have the opportunity ... to come in and be major-impact guys," Powers said.
The interesting thing is that defense in particular did not appear to be an area of need. Last year featured newly appointed captain Brett Blomgren, his on-ice partner Drew Newmeyer, and players recruited as recently as last season like Jarrod Levos, Alex Temby and Troy Hoban. It also saw assistant captain Jordan Young play a big role, though he could miss the first half of the season with a shoulder injury.
Powers said it doesn't matter that he has too many defensemen than spots on the bench.
"We will need all nine ‘D' to win another ring," Powers said.
Still, there are just too many bodies. Blomgren and Newmeyer are guaranteed to dress every game, based on Blomgren's new captaincy and the high level at which they played together last season.
Schmidt and McGovern are arguably the biggest-impact recruits and bring them with the highest expectations of the class. They will play.
Powers hinted he may decide to play with seven defensemen next season, but even if he does, that leaves Levos, Temby, Mangone and Hoban fighting for three spots, and that is until Young returns, at which point they will compete for two.
The forward position is a little more straightforward. Mailey, Barden and Morris are all expected to step in and play nearly every game from Day 1.
Part of that comes form the flexibility of the position- 12 forwards vs. six defensemen dress to play each game- and part of that comes from the players that graduated. Of last years's eight seniors, six of them were forwards. Powers said he isn't worried about a possible scoring outage with them graduating.
"From a talent standpoint, our forwards are every bit as talented," Powers said. "We lost (the top four scorers), they're incredible kids, incredible players, but the three kids that we brought in are really high-level kids, all offensively gifted."
A goalie was not in the plans as far as recruits are concerned, which signals an end for last year's two-goalie system. Joe D'Elia and Robert Levin split time last season, with Levin playing 19 games and D'Elia playing 15. Instead, the team will rely on Levin as its feature netminder, with Lucas Felbel serving as his backup.
The puck drops on the Arizona State season Sept. 19 against Niagara at 7:30 p.m. at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. It also signals the start of six players' Sun Devil careers.