Michigan junior forward JT Compher has signed an entry-level contract with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, giving up his final season of NCAA eligibility with the Wolverines.
Compher — Michigan’s captain — enjoyed his best season with 63 points (16 goals, 47 assists) in 38 games during the 2015-16 season. An AHCA Second Team All-American and All-Big Ten First Team selection, Compher led the nation in assists, and was No. 2 in points scored (behind Michigan teammate Kyle Connor). His assist total (47) was the most by a player at Michigan since Brendan Morrison set the school record with 57 assists in 1996-97. He finished the season with points in 26 of his last 27 games, including point streaks of 18 and eight games. He led the team (along with Connor) with 19 multiple-point games on the season.
He was the center of Michigan’s vaunted CCM Line with Connor on the right and Tyler Motte on the left. All three have now left school early to sign NHL contracts — Connor signed with Winnipeg and Motte inked with Chicago. The line was united for the first time on Dec. 4 against Wisconsin. In 27 games together, the trio accounted for over half of Michigan’s 136 goals (70 goals, 51.5 percent), and were a combined plus-89 in that span.
Compher was a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award along with Connor and Motte this season, marking third time in the 35-year history of the award that one school has placed three players among the top 10 finalists. Compher will join Connor and Motte on Team USA at the 2016 IIHF Men’s World Championship to be held May 6-22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
He leaves Michigan with 118 career points (39 goals, 79 assists), becoming the first junior to hit 100 points at the school since Carl Hagelin (2010).
Originally drafted in the second round (35th overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013 NHL Draft, Compher was acquired by the Avalanche in a trade on June 26, 2015.