Michigan State’s men’s ice hockey rarely gets any significant NHL Draft news. On the current roster, only Cole Krygier (Florida Panthers) and Christian Krygier (New York Islanders) have been drafted. However, incoming freshman Viktor Hurtig was drafted in the sixth-round of last year’s NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils as well.
For context, MSU’s in-state rival, Michigan, had four players taken in the top-five of the 2021 draft.
Even the players on the current roster who have been drafted weren’t actually taken while with Michigan State. Hurtig was taken last summer, well before committing to MSU for the 2022-2023 season. The Krygier twins, who return for their fifth and final year this season, were taken five spots away from each other in 2018, the summer before coming to East Lansing as freshman.
This season, two players may have their names called: David Gucciardi and Jack Sparkes.
So Gucci.— Michigan State Hockey (@MSU_Hockey) February 26, 2022
David Gucciardi gives MSU a 2-1 lead just over a minute into the second period. pic.twitter.com/eIXGXP3Y32
Gucciardi was one of the standouts of the 2021-2022 season. He ended the season with five goals and six assists, even ending up with the game-winning overtime goal against Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational.
Both ESPN and The Athletic have their rankings for the upcoming NHL Draft, which takes place at 7 p.m. Eastern Time tonight (July 7) at the Bell Centre in Montréal. The first round airs on ESPN and ESPN+. The second through seventh rounds take place on Friday, starting at 11 a.m. on ESPN+ and NHL Network.
Per ESPN’s top prospect rankings, Gucciardi is ranked at No. 57. He’s a puck-moving defenseman with relatively low hockey sense. In some cases, he can end up out of place on defense, leading to impactful scoring chances for opposing teams. His biggest asset is puck control and the ability to recognize space up the ice before much of his own team does.
On the other hand, The Athletic’s prospect rankings do not mention Gucciardi. The opposite can be said for Sparkes, who is not mentioned on ESPN’s list, but is No. 72 on The Athletic’s list.
Sparkes may be more likely to be drafted because of his size. He’s a 6-foot-8 defenseman who most recently played for Ontario Junior Hockey League’s St. Michael’s Buzzers. He may be the most physically-dominant prospect available. While his 12 total points in the OJHL last season is impressive, he also had the third-longest wingspan at the 2022 NHL Draft Combine. He’s set to arrive on Michigan State’s campus as a freshman in 2023-2024.
The Spartans return to action this fall with a new roster and new coaching regime. Head coach Adam Nightingale brought in associate coaches Mike Towns and Jared DeMichiel, all while getting set to unveil a newly renovated Munn Ice Arena.
MSU will open the 2022-2023 season by playing the Team USA National Team Development Program on Oct. 1 in an exhibition game. The first series of the regular season will be against Bowling Green on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8.