When the University of Michigan concluded its season earlier this month in the NCAA playoffs, there was quite a bit of talk about JT Compher returning next season to play his senior year. The Wolverines' captain had just put up the best numbers of his college career, scoring 63 points in 37 games, and some thought he could instead opt for free agency after 2016-17 like Jimmy Vesey had recently done with Nashville (or Blake Wheeler, Kevin Hayes, and Justin Schultz before him). That discussion can now be put to rest, as the Avalanche have announced signing Compher to a three-year entry-level deal via Twitter:
Compher's rights were received via trade last summer from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Ryan O'Reilly. Often overshadowed by the bigger names included, Nikita Zadorov and Mikhail Grigorenko, he was at first seen by many in the media as a throw-in. But as he continued to produce for one of the nation's best hockey programs, opinions quickly began to change for those who follow the Avalanche.
Depending on what happens to the NHL roster in the coming months, Compher could be looked at as a bottom-six center on the Avalanche as soon as next season. A safer bet is he provides a nice upgrade for the San Antonio Rampage, who struggled to keep centers in the lineup for the latter half of the year.
Fans will get their first look at the Avalanche's newest player in Burgundy & Blue at the team's development camp later this summer.