Opinion: Breaking Down Men’s Hockey’s Newest Recruits

The early-signing period for the NLI has come and gone and Michigan State hockey has done quite well. The Spartans recently announced five NLI signees that will join the team as freshmen next season.

Unlike last year’s class that was primarily defensive-minded (highlighted by D-man Josh Jacobs and goaltender Ed Minney) next year’s class will likely add some much-needed scoring depth and potential to the roster.

This class is quite special and will help the Spartans improve in areas such as hockey intellect, puck skills, playmaking ability, and offensive defense.

Four of the five future Spartans, with the exception of Zach Osburn, are over six feet tall, so this class will add some size to the team. Also, all five are eligible for the 2015 NHL entry draft.

For more in-depth analysis on the latest Spartan recruiting class, listen to the latest episode of Behind the Mask.

Mason Appleton (F)

Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Current Team: Tri-City Storm (USHL)

Appleton is a huge get for Michigan State. He is a true or “native” goal scorer, and seems to be transitioning well in his first year of USHL play, with five goals and two assists in 15 games played.

Appleton verbally committed to the Spartans over the summer, and seeing him be one of the first to sign his NLI is certainly welcoming.

He will likely be a strong, physical centerman (currently 6-foot-2, 193 lbs.) and definitely what the Spartans need with Matt Berry graduating this year.

Zach Osburn (D)

Hometown: Plymouth, Michigan

Current Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)

Osburn is a small, but offensive-minded defenseman who is able to rush the puck up and is not afraid to lead the offense. MSU head coach Tom Anastos linked many of his skill sets to that of Torey Krug.

Osburn currently has one goal and one assist in nine games with the Steel.

Cody Milan (F)

Hometown: White Lake, Michigan

Current Team: Tri-City Storm (USHL)

Milan committed to MSU several years ago and was originally slated to be a freshman this year. However after a slow first year in the USHL, Milan stayed to refine his game and it certainly helped.

Milan currently has two goals and six assists in 15 games with the Storm. He seems to be the “set-up man” based on his current goal/assist ratio. Such a player would be instrumental for the Spartans, especially if paired up with the likes of Michael Ferrentino or Mackenzie MacEachern.

Jerad Rosburg (D)

Hometown: Clarksville, Maryland

Current Team: Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)

A defenseman from the East Coast, Rosburg is a smart and solid stay at home defenseman, which will certainly help the Spartans shore up their D-corps.

However, Rosburg has also had some offensive success. He currently has two goals and two assists and is a plus-11 in 12 games with the Musketeers.

Brennan Sanford (F)

Hometown: East Lansing, Michigan

Current Team: Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)

The hometown kid, Sanford is a solid forward who understands the game of hockey.

He is not a lights-out goal scorer or major offensive threat by any means and will probably fly under the radar for a year or two.

However, his size and smarts make him a tough winger to play against, and the fact that he will be playing for his hometown team means that there may be big things in store for the East Lansing native.

Sanford currently has two goals and three assists in 16 games for the Buccaneers.

Jason Ruff is the host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports

Photo: Brian Bobal/Impact Sports