There is some unfinished business for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who were ousted from the Frozen Four by the Minnesota State Mavericks, missing a chance at a National Championship game. While freshman Matthew Knies is meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs this week to discuss his future (and according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, leaning toward a return), Brock Faber has already made his decision. The Los Angeles Kings prospect will return for his junior season, the team confirmed today.
Faber, 19, was the 45th overall pick in 2020 and just finished a season that saw him wear an “A” as alternate captain of Team USA at the eventually-canceled World Juniors, suit up for the U.S. at the Olympics, and win the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award, while also being named to the conference First All-Star Team. You could call it a pretty successful sophomore year.
The Kings actually traded up to land Faber in 2020, sending picks 51 and 97 to the Detroit Red Wings in order to draft the USNTDP standout. The right-shot defenseman has always had an innate ability to close gaps on the rush and break cycles in his own end, and is still developing an improving offensive game to go with it. If you trace that draft pick back even further, it actually originally belonged to the Edmonton Oilers, and was one of the two second-round selections sent to Detroit at the 2020 deadline for Andreas Athanasiou.
Now it’s the Kings’ bounty, though they’ll still need to sign Faber at some point in the future. His draft rights belong to them through August of 2024, meaning next spring there will likely be another push to get him under contract.
Still, there’s good reason to believe that another year of college will actually help his development, especially if some of the other talented defensemen on Minnesota decide to turn pro. If Faber is given more offensive responsibility, there’s even a chance he could be ready to step directly into the NHL in an impact role following his junior season.