My colleague in Madison, Todd Milewski, has decided to conduct a WCHA pre-season media poll.
The Grand Forks Herald has done a coaches' poll for many years, but this is the first time in my four years covering UMD that we have had a media poll.
I've always been about full disclosure here, so with a deadline of Friday, this is my ballot:
1. Colorado College
4. North Dakota
7. Minnesota State
8. St. Cloud State
10. Michigan Tech
Player of the year: Chad Rau, F, Colorado College
Rookie of the year: Aaron Ness, D, Minnesota
All-WCHA first team:
F: Chad Rau, Colorado College
F: Tyler Bozak, Denver
F: Ryan Duncan, North Dakota
D: Jamie McBain, Wisconsin
D: Brian Connelly, Colorado College
G: Alex Stalock, UMD
Even though I've already sent this in, I'm not opposed to making Milewski accept a revised submission from me if someone makes a compelling argument for a change. Or maybe you need to just say "HEY IDIOT, YOU FORGOT ____".
Either way, use the comments or e-mail.
As you can tell, I really like the Colorado teams. Again.
Bottom line to me is that the Tigers and Pioneers return top-notch players and - in CC's case - superb goaltending. Wisconsin is going to be very good, and despite more losses, you can't count out North Dakota.
As for UMD, their experience and goaltending will make a huge difference. Goal-scoring won't be nearly the problem it's been. The big issue is figuring out which senior forwards will step up their games, and which defensemen will eat the many, many minutes played by Travis Gawryletz and Jason Garrison a year ago.
Minnesota needs to prove they can score goals without Ben Gordon and Blake Wheeler, and Minnesota State just has to prove it. They had a great run last year, but the questions I have are the same as many teams who get on a run with a lot of close wins.
Can they do it again? It's not a knock on the team. It's a long-held belief of mine that teams that win a bunch of close games are benefiting from a run of good luck that doesn't always repeat itself.
As for St. Cloud State, I expect a bit of a drop-off thanks to the loss of Andreas Nodl, who was a big part of their offense. Alaska-Anchorage should be improved by a good amount, and Michigan Tech will get better as the season wears on. However, there are just too many losses to take them seriously as a home-ice contender.