Next up is the speedster from Western Canada, forward Ben Winnett.
Last Season: As a member of the BCHL's Salmon Arm Silverbacks--the same team that sent Andrew Ebbett our way--Winnett scored 27-30--57 in 39 games with 58 PIMs. In the playoffs, he almost reached the point per game plateau with 3-7--10 in 11 games. He was also a member of the BCHL All-Star team. Winnett ranked just 39th in scoring, but he missed almost half the season due to a separated shoulder. A better comparison is that he was tenth in the league in points per game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected him in the fourth round during the most recent NHL Draft.
Expectations: They're pretty high. From the time he picked the Wolverines over Wisconsin, we've heard reports from Yost that they were really excited to get a look at him in a Michigan jersey.
When he first committed, I had questions about his size because he was playing at 158 pounds. Now MGoBlue lists him at 6'1" 182 which isn't bad at all if it's accurate. He apparently has great speed--like, NHL speed--the ability to create offensively, and isn't afraid to muck it up in the corners. Some folks over at Hockey's Future were pretty complimentary in the lead up to the draft as well, as MGoBlog found out.
This kid is a scorer and a playmaker. He's a top-six forward and he's going to play on the power play. He's probably not as absurdly fast as Andrew Cogliano, but if you're looking for the token fast-as-hell, offensively-gifted Canadian with question marks about his defensive game, I think he's your guy. Assuming Pacioretty-Porter-Kolarik is the top line, it wouldn't shock me a bit if Winnett is a member of a very fun to watch, all freshman second line. Winnett-Rust/Caporusso-Palushaj sounds pretty good to me! If it doesn't happen immediately, I don't doubt that it will once the freshmen settle in a little bit. The coaches definitely have some options with this team, and I'm really curious to see what lines they decide to go with.
Cogliano had 28 points in 39 games as a freshman. I'd tone it down slightly because he's not as shirtless of a recruit as Cogliano was coming in, but you also have to remember that Cogliano was pretty useless after the World Junior Championships as well. High 20s, low 30s sounds about right to me. Hopefully he betters Cogliano's -11. And doesn't dive as much.
Level of Necessity: 7 out of 10 (If you can't tell, I'm wishing at this point that I had planned these out in advance)
We're pretty deep at forward, but I have to put him ahead of a guy like Turnbull, who isn't going to light up the scoreboards. As I said earlier, Winnett will likely be a top-six forward on this team. We lost a couple of "skilled" players with Hensick and Cogliano off to the pros and Winnett has the ability to pick up some of that scoring slack.
He sounds like the type of player who will be better in college than he's projected to be in the NHL, and might out-perform his status as a fourth-round draft pick. I expect that he'll have a very good freshman season. I'm looking forward to seeing him play. Bob Miller knows the type of players that I like, and he's said that he'd bet that he'll become one of my favorites, along with Caporusso, who already is.
No more ties in college hockey after this season. My vote would be for one year just play 4 on 4 OT until someone wins, then once Sauer graduates, the NHL's system of 4 on 4 for five minutes and then a shootout would work just fine.
Also in that article comes the news that the NCAA is not requiring Ford Field to do a preview game before they host the 2010 Frozen Four. That has disaster written all over it. I understand that expense would be a reason not to do it, but it'd be worse if 2010 rolls around and whoops! We can't get it cold enough in this building to make good ice.
Not counting the 20 games on Comcast Local, which I may or may not be able to get, there will be 43 CCHA games that I should be able to see on TV this year. As I mentioned before, I think I'm going to get 19 Michigan games. All of this makes me very happy.
Checking In profiles of Tristin Llewellyn and Max Pacioretty are up.
Also, some guy named Favre broke two more records today in the process of taking his team to 4-0 on the season. Not bad for someone who was written off as completely washed up by pretty much everyone who only looks at stats.