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MSU lands UMass' Reed Lebster from transfer portal, 5 Spartans sign pro contracts

March 21, 2023
<p>Senior forward Jagger Joshua #23 braces for a showdown between his fellow Spartans and opposing Fighting Irish as the puck drops on Feb. 4, 2023.</p>

Senior forward Jagger Joshua #23 braces for a showdown between his fellow Spartans and opposing Fighting Irish as the puck drops on Feb. 4, 2023.

Plenty of player movement is being made across college hockey, including Michigan State, who landed its first player from the transfer portal Tuesday: UMass forward Reed Lebster

Lebster, a Grand Rapids native, spent four seasons with the Minutemen, three of which were under the eyes of current MSU associate head coach Jared DeMichiel. The two of them won a national championship together in 2021, though he appeared in just 12 games that season as he battled an injury. Over the last two seasons, Lebster has played 66 games, recording 17 goals and 23 assists. 

Lebster took to Twitter to make his commitment official. 

Five Spartans sign pro contracts

With Michigan State’s season officially over, five Spartans have now found new professional teams. Most notably, senior forward Jagger Joshua signed a two-year contract with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, foregoing his extra year of eligibility he could’ve used to return to the Spartans. 

Graduate student defensemen Christian Krygier and Michael Underwood and fifth-year defenseman Cole Krygier signed contracts of their own too, as well as senior forward Erik Middendorf. None of the four had eligibility remaining. 

Joshua will join the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate, first on an amateur tryout agreement. Then, his two-year contract will begin with the 2023-24 season. It’s a nice reward from his breakout season in which he led MSU with 13 goals after scoring just eight in his first three seasons with the Spartans. Seven of those goals came on the power play, the third most in the Big Ten. 

Krygier was signed to an amateur tryout agreement by the Bridgeport Islanders, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders. He opted to return to East Lansing for a fifth season, and although his offensive production slightly dipped, he was much steadier defensively, cut down on egregious turnovers and took fewer penalties. Krygier was a seventh-round NHL Draft choice by the New York Islanders in 2018.

Underwood was signed to a professional tryout agreement with the Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. He joined Michigan State last season as a graduate transfer from Clarkson, the same school to which sophomore forward Jesse Tucker recently committed. Underwood was a reliable top-pair defenseman and was second on the team with 51 blocks. He only scored once and recorded four assists, though his lone goal was a massive one that forced overtime against Michigan at the ‘Duel in the D’.

Middendorf signed a standard player contract with the Adirondack Thunder, the ECHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. He transferred to MSU ahead of the 2021-22 season and proceeded to lead the Spartans with 12 goals that year. Then this season, Middendorf’s play slipped and he fell down the line chart. However, he played well in the last month of the season once he was elevated to the second line and reunited with junior forward Jeremy Davidson

Cole Krygier had his rights traded on Monday from the Florida Panthers to the Los Angeles Kings and officially signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Ontario Reign on Tuesday, the AHL affiliate of the Kings. Like his twin brother, he was a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, though to the Florida Panthers. Cole Krygier notched a career-high 10 goals and 16 assists in his fifth season with the Spartans.

Ryan Nolan enters transfer portal

MSU forward Ryan Nolan is the fifth Spartan to enter the transfer portal, joining Tucker, junior forwards Zach Dubinsky and Kyle Haskins and junior defenseman Powell Connor.

Nolan transferred to Michigan State last year from Merrimack, though he missed the first half of the season with an injury. Once healthy, Nolan appeared in three games for the Spartans.

Dubinsky quickly found a new team in the portal, announcing his commitment to Vermont on Monday afternoon.

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