Birkholz to leave Gophers hockey program; Leddy’s future uncertain

Derek Wetmore

Head coach Don Lucia announced today that sophomore forward Josh Birkholz will leave the program in the face of an impending suspension. He was facing the suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Birkholz was selected in the third round of the 2009 NHL draft by the Florida Panthers. He came to Minnesota after a year in the USHL for the Fargo Force.

This move comes in the face of several other impending moves for the program this week. Several future key players are said to be having meetings with coach Lucia this week. Two of those players include Minnetonka’s Max Gardiner and sophomore Nick Leddy. Gardiner appeared headed for Des Moines, Iowa in the USHL after high school, but now it has been reported that he will instead join Minnesota for the upcoming season. Gardiner signed a letter of intent with the Gophers last fall.

Leddy was orinigally drafted with the No. 16 pick in the 2009 draft by the Minnesota Wild, but has since been traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in February. Leddy had three goals and eight assists in 30 games last year, and his plus-6 rating was the highest on the team. He missed eight games mid-season with a broken jaw. He is considering leaving the program to turn pro.