Thursday, April 12, 2007

Looking Ahead (Part Two)

Today we'll take a look at the remainder of Michigan's recruiting class. Here are McKeen's profiles of Llewellyn ("poor hockey sense, bad decision making, solid defensively once he gets the body on a player, strong first pass") and Caporusso ("poor man's Mike Cammalleri") that weren't included in the last update.

Max Pacioretty (Forward, Sioux City Muskateers, 6'2", 205):

Season Stats: 58 GP, 20-42--62, 95 PIMs, +21
Playoffs have not begun

When he committed, all we really knew was that he played prep hockey out East. There wasn't any information about him beyond a stat line. Fast-forward a year, and he's quite possibly the jewel of the recruiting class.

McKeen's Hockey Digest lists him as the 58th best player in the upcoming draft (and the 15th best winger) putting him at the end of the second round. NHL Central Scouting ranked him as the 23rd best North American forward. He's said to have "supple" hands, and to be an outstanding passer. The knock is that he doesn't use his size that well. But he's big, can pass, and is apparently a good skater.

Maybe a version of late-in-his-Michigan-career David Moss?

There aren't too many articles on him out there, but here's a commentary on his play from McKeen's. They seem to be fairly hot and cold on him, but think he has a great upside.

Aaron Palushaj (Forward, Des Moines Buccaneers, USHL, 6'0", 185):

Season Stats: 54 GP, 21-43--64, 60 PIMs, +6 (7th in USHL scoring)
Playoffs have not begun

McKeen's ranks him as the #19 winger available in the upcoming draft and the #74 player overall (Grain of Salt Alert: They rank Steve Kampfer #73. I can honestly say that I never watched him this year and thought "There's a guy that can play in the NHL" let alone "There's a guy that I would take in the 3rd round." But hey, I thought Ryan Leaf would be better than Peyton Manning, so what do I know?).

He's said to be a sniper inside 15 feet and be able to undress people with his stick-handling. He's got a heavy and accurate shot. Decent skater and willing to do the dirty work. There's some real good stuff in this McKeen's commentary, though there is one contradiction: In the first sentence they say that some scouts think that he's a selfish, me-first player and kind of a brat. They then go on to say that he's a great teammate, and passes more than he should.

From reading that commentary I get the TJ Hensick vibe. Good passer, thought of as selfish but he piles up assists, great stick-handler, good shot. Sounds like he has potential to be a great player for us. In two different places, I saw Thomas Vanek's name dropped as a comparison. Not that he'll be quite that good...but it's not a bad guy to be compared to.

Kevin Quick (Defenseman, Salisbury Prep, NEPSIHA, 6'0", 175):

Season Stats: 25 GP (max) 1-10--11, 10 PIMs, +26

Quick's numbers were well down from last year, which leads me to wonder if he missed part of the season (they don't list games played on the website). Apparently the team as a whole struggled to score in the first half of the year, though.

He was already drafted in the 3rd round of last year's NHL Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Redline compared him to Buffalo's Brian Campbell (again, not a bad guy to be compared to).

He's said to be a great leader, solid in his own end, but offensively gifted.

Boltsprospects has him as the heir apparent to Dan Boyle as an offensive defenseman.
Long Q & A with him from McKeen's.
profile ("Loads of offensive potential" "hard, sharp passes" "good point shot")
The original Link-o-Rama about him from my site. It has many of the same links. Bolts Prospects dropped the JMFJ comparison. Chad, from their site, dropped by to say that came from his midget coach...and also that Tampa management LOVES him.
Great article from Tampa's official website. They love his hockey sense.

It's not fair to compare the kid to Jack Johnson, but from reading these links, doesn't it sound like a poor man's JMFJ would be a nice comparison? He sounds like he's great in all aspects of the game, nice offensive upside, good leader, pretty responsible in his own end, likes to hit.

He's kind of flown under the radar because he's playing prep hockey. It's easy to forget that we've got a 3rd round pick coming in on defense next year. I'm excited about him.

Matt Rust (Center, USA NTDP Under 18 Team, 5'10", 180):

Season Stats: 48 GP, 12-17--29, 77 PIMs

Talk about under the radar, especially for a USA kid. When I think of the forwards in the incoming recruiting class, I think of Patch, Pal and Winnett. Then I look at the sidebar, see his name, and remember just how impressive he was in the game against the Wolverines this year.

I love what I've seen (and it's limited) of this kid. He was a good skater, wasn't afraid to hit even though he's not that big, and he works his butt off, very strong in his own end.

He strikes me as a player that can come in and play on our special teams, that they won't be afraid to put out there in the third period with a lead and who can do a nice job centering our third line. We've heard the Ebbett comparison for Caporusso, but I think it'd fit just as well with this kid. He's not flashy, but he can get the job done offensively...but he's a very strong defensive center.

Bob Miller's profile of him on hockeysfuture includes a quote that says he's a good faceoff man too. Love it!

CSS put him as the #124 North American forward. Which is fine. The NHL might not love him, but I think Michigan fans will.


From the ISS via MHNet.

Charles "Scooter" Vaughan (Defenseman, St. Louis Bandits, NAHL, 5'11", 190)

Season Stats: 58 GP, 8-27--35, 115 PIMs
Playoff Stats (currently ongoing): 2 GP, 1-2--3, 2 PIMs

Here's my original post about him. Apparently he's pretty fast and he plays the game with an edge. He says that his favorite player is Kelly Chase because "He shows no mercy." I like that. We need a player with that attitude now that JMFJ and his "I would rather break someone's jaw with a legal hit than score a goal" mindset is off to the pros.

For a guy that I'm not positive is getting any scholarship money to come here, Vaughan could play a surprisingly key role on this team. If he comes in ready to play at this level, that will allow us to keep Chris Summers up at forward, where he's shown the ability to be an impact player. If he comes in and can't be an NCAA player yet, then Summers probably has to slide back to Defense, where he was a pretty blah player for the most part.

Sorry to say, Scooter, you're leaving a team with Ice Dolls to come to a team with no Ice Dolls. That's gotta be a huge disappointment. Maybe we can pull Molly, the old St. Cloud cheerleader, out of the strip club to come say hello.

Ben Winnett (Center, Salmon Arm Silverbacks, BCHL, 6'1" 180):

Season Stats: 39 GP, 27-30--57, 58 PIMs, 14 PPGs
Playoff Stats: 11 GP, 3-7--10, 12 PIMs

Last, but not least in this year's recruiting class, we have Ben "In it to" Winnett "like Yzerman". A highly-skilled center out of the BCHL, who plays for the same team that brought us Andrew Ebbett. He ranked 39th in league scoring, but also only played about half the season due to a separated shoulder. He ranked t-10 in points per game.

Here's a quote from his team's GM, out of the Roycal City Record:

"He does things on the ice offensively that you just can't teach. His skating ability, his stride and his ability to shoot off both feet are outstanding," Davidson said.

He was also given an "A" despite being a younger player. They like his leadership qualities. Not afraid to go in the corners, nice shot. From everything out there about him though, it seems that his speed is what separates him from other players.

Here's an article about him from Hockeysfuture.

And a mention of him from this site, where I make a similar pun with him name. Because that's not going to get old.

McKeen's profile that mentions his speed quite a bit.

My original post about him, that includes some quotes from Paul Shaheen.

So that does it for the recruiting class. Overall it looks like an extremely talented group. We're bringing in a lot of very good players up front, even if they end up not having that top-talent like Hensick. Our offense will probably drop off slightly next year. We lose a couple of big-time performers up front, but we will be a lot deeper at forward next year if everyone comes back.

Where the dropoff will come, though, is back on the blueline. JMFJ and Hunwick are gone. Quick should be able to pick up some of that slack, and you'd like to think that Kampfer will find his game after a year of getting his feet wet.

Bryan Hogan is as important a recruit as we've had in a long time. If he's for real, this team could have a chance next year. If he can't take the starting goaltender job, we're not going anywhere for the next two seasons. And that sentence means exactly what you think it means, about my confidence in our goaltender at this point. Sauer showed that he has the ability to play at a high level for a stretch, but the kid just doesn't have the confidence to be a top-flight goaltender.

Hogan is especially important because he's our last chance for the next two seasons. There's no way another goalie signs on for 08-09 with Sauer, Jakiel, and Hogan there and a roster slot won't open until Sauer leaves two years from now. So if he's not the guy, either Sauer needs to get with it, or we're done for the next two years. It's too hard to try and win an NCAA title by outscoring teams, and we've had to try and do it for 3 years now, since the last time we've had consistent goaltending was Montoya's sophomore year.

Lastly, commenter Colin expands on his War and Peace length comments from a couple of posts ago in his new blog. Well worth reading, and I look forward to reading what he has to say in the future. Unlike mgoblog, I think the name of the blog is pretty funny.


colin said...

Brian is such a tastemaker. I mean, has he looked at his sidebar lately? There's like 20 Michigan sports blogs, plus a number of others he doesn't list.

In any case, it seems like the difference between this class and the previous seems to be speed. There isn't a guy among the 6 that was not said to be able to skate well with at least SOME speed, right? MacVoy, Bailey, Miler, Fardig and Turnbull are at best average skaters and their lack of scoring (which resulted mostly from that, imo) and the lack of impact players from that forward group has really put the onus on TJ and Porter the last two years. It's a good thing TJ was as remarkable as he was. Also, interesting dearth of UNDTP players, no? Not sure what to make of that.

In any case, we are due a lights out scorer from a freshman class as far as I'm concerned. And a decent goalie. I also wonder whether or not Jakiel is getting scholarship money? He looked straight up awful last year. If not, there's no reason we can't bring in another goalie until we get it right, right?

Packer487 said...

You can throw Naurato in that mix as someone who isn't a great skater--he's had some success scoring because he's got a great shot, but not a great skater.

Bailey is the only one I disagree with...he was a pretty good skater, just wasn't a scorer.

But the point made is a good one. It at least appears that we're bringing in guys with speed to burn.

It is odd that we haven't recruited the NTDP all that well lately, but we've got a couple of good ones in Czarnik and Wohlberg next year (and Grimshaw might get an offer).

Even if Jakiel isn't getting any money, I can't see a top-notch goalie signing on with two scholarship goalies already here. Maybe I'm wrong.

The guy I want is that kid that's playing for the U-17s right now out of Alaska...Adam Murray. I haven't seen him, but I've heard glowing reports about his play lately. I think he'd be in the class that will replace Sauer.

colin said...

It seems to me that the goalie in college is the difference maker even more so than in the NHL. I think it's worth being short a few players (i.e. play a walk on) in order to bring in a goalie. State did what it did not because it was a well rounded team, but was equipped for the playoffs with a guy like Lerg.

For the most recent post I did, though, it looks like stats really don't help at all in identifying who is good. Also: Hogan was REAAAALLLY bad this past year. Like, seriously.

Packer487 said...

Yeah he was. Which is what scares me. But he was outstanding the year before, and he won a title with Catholic Central--which by all accounts he was pretty great.

The good part about him is that he's coming in with quite possibly more goaltending experience than Sauer has period.