Michigan State will head into the 2017-18 hockey season without their leading point-getter. It was announced that sophomore forward Mason Appleton signed a pro contract with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) July 13, 2017
The Green Bay-native Appleton was a former sixth-round draft pick of the Jets in the 2015 NHL Draft. He was the Spartans’ team leader in goals (12), assists (19) and points (31) last season for a team that struggled mightily to produce any offense and win games.
He was dubbed the team’s most outstanding rookie as a freshman and earned honors of most outstanding offense player last season. He ends his MSU career having played in 72 games, accumulating 53 points (17 goals, 36 assists).
Losing Appleton, who was named the team captain for the upcoming season back in April, is a major loss for new head coach Danton Cole, who is now losing four of the team’s top seven point-getters from a season ago. Among the four, in addition to Appleton, are three graduating seniors: Thomas Ebbing, Villiam Haag and Joe Cox (Ebbing and Cox signed pro contracts here in the United States).
That opens the door for a trio of soon-to-be sophomores in Taro Hirose, Patrick Khodorenko and Sam Saliba. This threesome combined for 23 goals and 58 points last season for MSU. Saliba was tabbed as one of three assistant captains back in April by Cole.
The Spartans will be looking to rebound from a 7-win campaign a year ago, their lowest win total in nearly 40 years.