Michigan State defenseman A.J. Thelen put to rest any speculation that he might leave school for the pros, telling reporters in Minnesota that he would return to East Lansing for his sophomore season.
Thelen was the 12th overall pick in this past June’s NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild. Thelen is a native of Minnesota, and participated in the team’s developmental camp last month.
“I’m excited to go back for another year of college and be with my teammates and, hopefully, build on my confidence from last year,” Thelen told the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. “With the lockout, you don’t know if the season’s going to start or if I could get signed. It wouldn’t give me a chance to get into a groove.”
Thelen was a member of the USCHO.com All-Rookie team last year, and was winner of the CCHA’s Best Offensive Defenseman Award. He scored 11 goals and 29 points in 41 games for the Spartans last season.
“This is one of those years that is too confusing, and this was the simplest solution,” Wild general manager Doug Risebrough told the paper. “He’s still a developing player, and the place he can best develop right now is in college.”