Since I'm conducting the poll, I suppose it would be a good idea to submit a ballot, right?
The annual WCHA Preseason Media Poll will be out later this week, in advance of exhibition games this weekend. Here is the ballot I submitted to the poll, along with a brief explanation of the picks. As usual, we're going to go backwards.
12. Minnesota State -- Lost a lot of good players, especially in the back. Will need top goaltending to make a run this season.
11. Bemidji State -- Beavers need more offense to help out goalie Dan Bakala, who could have a huge season.
10. Michigan Tech -- I've heard nothing but good things about Mel Pearson, and I think he'll get this program on the right track. Look for captain Brett Olson (Superior kid) to have a strong senior season.
9. Alaska-Anchorage -- Tempted to go higher, and wouldn't be surprised if the Seawolves were a serious contender for home-ice position. They've never had home-ice in WCHA playoffs.
8. Wisconsin -- Mike Eaves will coach the hell out of this team, and they'll be dangerous come March. But too many losses up front. Justin Schultz could have to carry this team, not that he would be incapable.
7. St. Cloud State -- Don't sleep on the Huskies. Mike Lee was outstanding in first-round playoff loss to UMD, and this team will be another riser that could steal a home-ice position if someone in the top six falters.
6. Nebraska-Omaha -- This is the year we see some real impact out of Dean Blais' recruits. I expect the Mavericks will make a second-half run to secure home ice.
5. Minnesota -- With all the hot seat talk surrounding Don Lucia, he made a huge addition in re-hiring longtime assistant Mike Guentzel. Expect him to impact the blue line and the recruiting trail, not that recruiting has ever been a huge issue for Minnesota.
4. UMD -- The defending national champs lose two-thirds of the nation's top forward line from a year ago, and while having Jack Connolly, J.T. Brown, and Travis Oleksuk back is nice, it's not enough to make the Bulldogs a title contender.
3. Colorado College -- I'm not an excuse machine, but think about what the brothers Schwartz had to deal with last year (watching the tragic situation with sister Mandi play out), and imagine their potential this season. It's kind of scary.
2. North Dakota -- I know they lost a lot, but they have legit all-league candidates up front, Ben Blood on the blue line, and that Dell guy in goal. I don't expect a serious fall-off.
1. Denver -- Jason Zucker, Drew Shore, David Makowski ... need I say more? There's a lot of pressure on Adam Murray in goal, but George Gwozdecky's team probably has the fewest holes.
Preseason All-WCHA team (alphabetical order where applicable)
Forwards -- Jack Connolly, UMD; Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College; Jason Zucker, Denver
Defensemen -- Ben Blood, North Dakota; Justin Schultz, Wisconsin
Goalie -- Aaron Dell, North Dakota
Preseason Player of the Year: Jason Zucker, F, Denver
Preseason Rookie of the Year: Rocco Grimaldi, F, North Dakota
Preseason Coach of the Year: Scott Owens, Colorado College