As a junior, Corey Tropp was MSU's leading scorer with 20 goals and 42 points in 2009-10. LSJ file photo.
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Lansing State Journal) - The Michigan State hockey team's hat trick of early departures is complete.
Right wing Corey Tropp on Tuesday became the third Spartan to give up his senior year and turn pro with a National Hockey League organization, following the path of defenseman Jeff Petry and left wing Andrew Rowe.
Tropp, MSU's leading scorer in 2009-2010 with 20 goals and 42 points, has signed a three-year entry level contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
Tropp was selected by the Sabres in the third round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
In late March, Petry - a second-team NCAA West All-American - signed with the Edmonton Oilers. In early May, Rowe announced he was leaving school to sign a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Flyers organization.
Tropp, a 6-foot, 185-pounder from Grosse Pointe Woods, is attending the Sabres' rookie camp in Lewiston, N.Y., and could not be reached for comment. He turns 21-years-old on July 25 and is expected to begin his pro career this fall with Buffalo's top farm team - the Portland Pirates - in the American Hockey League.
Tropp also becomes the third Spartan in the Sabres' organization, joining East Lansing's Ryan Miller, the top goaltender in the NHL, and third-line left wing Tim Kennedy.
When Rowe signed with the Flyers in May, MSU coach Rick Comley felt it was only a matter of time before Tropp signed with the Sabres.
"This is the reality of college hockey - good players are leaving school after their sophomore and junior seasons,'' Comley said then. "Obviously, we're going to miss a player of Corey's caliber. We wish him the best as he pursues his dream to play professional hockey.''
Tropp finishes his three-year Spartan career with 29 goals and 41 assists for 70 points in 100 games.
Rowe was MSU's second-leading goal-scorer last season with 17 and his 28 points were fourth overall. Petry, the team's top-scoring defenseman, had four goals and 25 assists for 29 points. He was third in team scoring.
As a sophomore, Tropp was suspended for the final 12 games of the season after a slashing incident against Michigan's Steven Kampfer, who was laying prone on the ice after being hauled down by MSU's Andrew Conboy. The incident came after Kampfer's open-ice hit on Tropp.
Conboy also was suspended for the season, but he left school immediately to sign with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens.
College hockey has been weakened considerably over the last several years with many top juniors defecting to the pros. Two years ago, MSU lost junior forwards Justin Abdelkader and Kennedy and sophomore defenseman Michael Ratchuk to the NHL.
Since the end of the season, Wisconsin has had three junior defensemen and a sophomore forward sign with NHL teams.
In fact, defenseman Ryan McDonough announced on Tuesday that he was giving up his senior year at Wisconsin to sign an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers. NHL teams
Denver, Ohio State, Boston University and Massachusetts have lost three players each to early signings.
The Spartans' top returning scorer in 2010-2011 is sophomore-to-be left wing Derek Grant, who had 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points as a freshman.
Among other returning forwards: Senior Dustin Gazley (9-12-21), juniors Daultan Leveille (6-19-25), Brett Perlini (7-5-12) and Trevor Nill (2-7-9) and sophomores Chris Forfar (6-4-10), Dean Chelios (4-6-10) and Zach Golembiewski (2-7-9).
Three freshmen will compete for forward spots - Lee Reimer of Landmark, Manitoba, Greg Wolfe of Canton, and Jake Chelios, Dean's brother, of Bloomfield Hills.
By Neil Koepke, Lansing State Journal