Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Breaking Down the 07-08 Wolverines: Kevin Porter

The next profile is of the Captain of the Wolverines, senior Kevin Porter.

Last Season: Porter was second on the team in scoring with a line of 24-34--58 in 41 games. His 24 goals tied him with Andrew Cogliano for the top spot on the team. He ranked a distant second to Chad Kolarik in shots with 128 and was +23 on the season. And despite being counted on for his excellent defense, he only took eight penalties the entire season. He also led the team in Game Winning Goals with 4.

The top line of Porter, Hensick, and Rohlfs was arguably the best line in the country, with Hensick and Porter ranked #1 and #3 in the country in scoring, respectively.

He was also a member of the All-CCHA Second Team.

Expectations: Porter is the top offensive threat returning to this team. According to an interview with Red Berenson by The Wolverine's Mike Spath that was conducted at the CCHA Media Day today, Porter will be making the move to center--at least at first. Based on some of the things that Berenson said, I imagine the top line with be Pacioretty-Porter-Kolarik. Obviously they'll be expected to produce quite a bit.

It will be interesting to see how Porter does offensively without TJ Hensick getting him the puck. I'm sure he'll be with talented linemates, and I don't expect a huge dropoff in production, though I think it might be optimistic to expect him to repeat last year's ranking of #3 nationally in scoring.

Even if the forward depth is enough that they aren't counted on as heavily as last year, I don't think high 40s or low 50s in points is unreasonable. As long as he's in the ballpark of 1.25 points per game and continues his excellent defensive play and penalty killing, his job is done.

He's never played center before, but putting him there should allow him to use his defensive talents a little bit more. He took just 18 faceoffs last year and was .500. (Sidenote: Hensick was absolutely incredible in the faceoff dot. Do you realize he won 21 out of 25 against North Dakota in the tournament? That's insane.)

There's no reason that he shouldn't be an All-CCHA First Team forward this year. He was voted one in the preseason poll that came out today.

Level of Necessity: 9.5 out of 10.

Porter is vital to this team. He's going to be the top-line center. He's their #1 penalty killer and the #1 defensive forward. He's the top returning scorer, and tied as the top returning goal scorer. He was second in power play goals, first in game-winning goals. It was a very small sample size, but it at least appears that he doesn't suck at faceoffs. And he doesn't take penalties.

Not to mention, he's the captain.

It would be extremely hard for this team to overcome him going down with an injury for any extended period of time. There's no single player more important to the success of this team based on what he provided in all aspects of the game.

Other Stuff: There will be a transcript up later, but Spath's interview with Coach Berenson, which I linked above, was pretty candid. Red spoke highly of all the freshmen forwards. It sounds like he really likes all of them. He compared Langlais to Eric Werner (hopefully more defensively responsible and better in school than his predecessor) and Llewellyn to Jason Dest.

It sounded like he's somewhat concerned with the increase in level of play from prep school to the NCAA for Kevin Quick. He referred to Quick as an "unknown".

The most candid part of the interview was when he spoke of the goaltending. He didn't rip Billy Sauer, but he also didn't go throwing him a vote of confidence. It sounds like Bryan Hogan will have every opportunity to win the job, and he's curious to see Shawn Hunwick in action as well. Berenson was also open to the possibility that we'll split goaltenders, if it gives us the best chance to win every night.

A transcript will be up later, but the stuff about the goaltending was pretty interesting.

Checking In: Speaking of goaltending, after profiling Bryan Hogan yesterday, MGoBlue has posted the Checking In feature with Shawn Hunwick. He's got a nice story to tell. He's played all over the place (Honeybaked, Victory Honda, Western Ontario, the NAHL), and was speaking with Northern Michigan, Holy Cross, and a few other schools before a concussion (he got hit in the head twice during warm-ups...the first shot knocked his mask off, the second shot hit him) basically put an end to that. It's a good read.

I especially love hearing players tell the stories about who their favorite player is, and why they wear the number that they wear. Hunwick was/is a big Ron Tugnutt fan.


Lush said...

Porter at center? Hmm. If it works, I think that's obviously a much better distribution of talent and it means we don't have to have a freshman center on our first line.

Also, maybe this is just me being optimistic, but I think Pacioretty puts up a .8-1.0 ppg this year. That plus Kolarik will give us a pretty nice first line. After that it's basically up to the freshmen, since Miller isn't going to go all Ebbett on us from what I've seen. The real issue is how much scoring we can make up with added depth. Porter isn't Hensick and neither Mitera nor Summers is JMFJ.

Anonymous said...

Oh damnit. That was me.

Anonymous said...

these previews are great, and certainly thorough (a walk on, really?). the porter move to C is a gamble b/c i'm not sure he's proven himself to be a playmaker. i think most of the success was due to hensick being the mike hart of the team last year. i'm just as terrified about this hockey season as i am about next football season.

i'm really looking forward to the mitera review. i think he really needs to step it up. not in scoring: he needs to be the guy who, when he's on the ice, there are no goals against. he was shaky at times last year, and if that continues we'll be in big trouble. he needs to be out best D-man and more than that, our best defender, if we want to give up less than 20-25 spg and/or less than 3-4 gpg.