The fourth member of the Wolverine defensive unit that we'll look at is #7, freshman Chad Langlais.
Last Season: Chad was a teammate of goalie Bryan Hogan with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL the last two seasons. He posted a line of 6-40--46 in 51 games with 118 PIMs. He was fifth on his team in scoring, and played in the USHL All-Star Game. It appears that he was a big part of the Stars' power play, with thirty of his points coming with the man advantage.
He was interested in Boston University as well, but the Wolverines offered him in-part due to the recommendation of Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios.
Here's a quote from Lincoln's Head Coach/GM: "He's highly skilled, but can play it tough as well. He anticipates very well, and know how to jump into the play."
His PIM numbers suggest that he can hit and isn't scared of physical play, despite not being very big. Because if he was just hauling people down, I doubt he would've had interest from programs like Michigan and BU.
He was only +3, but the +/-s on the Stars were very spread out. Looking at the list, I believe that the Stars were a fairly top-heavy team; that the second, third and fourth lines just weren't that good. Langlais's +/- is pretty in line with the other defensemen on the team. Most of the articles I've read about him indicate that he's an offensive-defenseman for sure, but that he's responsible in his own end.
Expectations: Langlais comes in as a 21 year old freshman. Michigan doesn't offer kids significantly older than their class all that often (Gajic, Kaleniecki, Ortmeyer and a bunch of non-scholarship guys jump to mind). A quick look at the roster verified that Langlais is the only scholarship player that is more than a year or so older than the typical student in his class. As such, I have a feeling that Langlais will be a pretty good player for us. It might be a leap in logic, but the coaches don't usually go for the guys who have spent a couple more years in Juniors, so they probably feel that he can step in and really help.
He may not have the upside of the typical freshman due to his age, but he should be more mature, more experienced, and ready to play from the get-go. And if there's one thing that this defense corps needs, it's experience. Langlais actually becomes the oldest player on the blueline (apart from Emblad). Hopefully he'll be able to bring some leadership to a group that has just one junior, two sophomores, and three other freshmen.
I would expect that Langlais will be counted on to chip in offensively and make up some of the points that we lost with the departures of Matt Hunwick and Jack Johnson. He was extremely effective on the power play for Lincoln (only 2 players had more PP points, and he tied for the league in PP assists). Over half the points in his USHL career came with the man-advantage, so I'd expect that he'll see some power play time for Michigan as well. It wouldn't shock me to see him play quite a bit, as long as he's as defensively responsible as his past coaches have said.
Level of Necessity: 6 out of 10.
Due to his age and--I assume--his maturity, Langlais will probably have a chance to play more minutes than the typical freshman defenseman. We're going to be forced to play some "young guys", so why not play one who was a USHL All-Star and isn't really young.
He and Kevin Quick bring the offensive ability along with the defensive responsibility. If one freshman defender has to play in our top four (and it might be two, depending on if they split up the returning defensemen), those would be the two guys I would bank on battling for the job. And Langlais might have the edge, since he's coming from the USHL vs. Quick who played in the prep school ranks.
We don't return much offense from our defensemen, and Langlais appears to be a guy that can chip in in that regard. Kampfer was a USHL All-Star too, but he never put up big offensive numbers in that league (and has continued to not do much offensively). Langlais had 68 points in 110 games. He can distribute and he's an effective power play guy. I think he's going to have a chance to play quite a bit and be an important cog on this team.