Last Season: Naurato more than doubled his point total from his freshman season, putting up 12 goals to go along with 11 assists in 40 games. He was +4 with 34 PIMs. He also averaged almost 3 shots on goal per game, putting up 108 to rank him fifth on the team. He was also tied for fourth on the team in PPGs with 4.
If there's one thing this kid does well, it's shoot the puck. He probably has the best shot on the team, and while he doesn't do anything else extremely well, he's carved out a niche for himself on the team. He was held without a SOG only twice all season last year. He was pretty effective in the second half of the season, scoring 14 of his 23 points in the last 19 games of the season, including a five game point streak in January. Only six players on the team had more multi-point games last season (Naurato had 7).
Expectations: It kind of depends. As I've written before, there's 15 guys going for 12 spots up front. I figure that Fragner and Ciraulo will both be frequent scratches, leaving one more player who needs to sit. Naurato, Fardig, and Lebler seem to be battling it out for two spots. I think this battle is going to come down to what the coaches feel they need on the ice at any given moment (and where they may feel we're deficient after they see what the freshmen have). If it's a sniper, Naurato is in. If they need hustle, grit, and forechecking, Digger plays. If they want a big body to play the Jason Ryznar type role, then Lebler is in. And of course one injury up front puts all three of them into the lineup. Amazingly, we only lost four man-games to injury last year amongst our forwards.
Naurato will play, it just might not be every night. If that's the case--and he skated with Ciraulo and Fragner tonight, so that may be an indication that he's on the outside looking in--his numbers will likely go down from a year ago. If he can consistently play the way he did in the last 20 games of the season, though, he may find himself in the lineup more often than not. He'll be dressed based on his offensive abilities, so he needs to put numbers on the stat sheet to consistently be in the lineup.
Level of Necessity: 5.5 out of 10
His offensive abilities are a nice plus, but he doesn't bring enough in the other areas of the game to put him higher than this. He'll be good for 8-13 goals, possibly 20 points if he plays enough, and that's not anything to sneeze at. But he'll be in a battle for ice time (which may bring out the best in him) and I'm not confident that he's going to be the one that wins out in the end. He's kind of a hard one to project. 20 games played wouldn't shock me. But neither would 35. It depends on what we need in the lineup, if he steps up when he gets the chance, and if he can bring it consistently like he did for awhile toward the end of last season.
Other Stuff: The Blue-White game (PDF Link) was tonight and...well...let's put it this way: When the backup (Hogan) and 3rd stringer (Hunwick) aren't in the lineup and are replaced by walkons, it's probably not the best thing if the team the starting goalie is on loses 6-3. Not fair to put the blame on unbalanced teams, either. While the winning team did have 13 roster skaters to 9 for the other side, based on the projected lineups, each side had 9 regular skaters and 3 regular defensemen.
From what I can gather, here's the important stuff from the game:
-Louie Caporusso had a monster night with 3 assists, +4, and winning 16 of the 18 faceoffs he took(!!!)
-His linemates, Travis Turnbull (3-1--4, +4) and Carl Hagelin (1-3--4, +4) were evidently outstanding as well.
-For the other squad, Kevin Porter (2) and Max Pacioretty had the goals.
-Jon Montville isn't listed on the roster for this upcoming season but he played in the Blue/White game, which seems to indicate that he wasn't invited back or chose to focus on school rather than varsity hockey. I'd bank on the latter since he wasn't that bad for us. Either way, going -5 when no one else was worse than -2 probably didn't help his cause if he was looking to be back on the roster in some form.
-Caporusso's numbers on draws may have been aided somewhat by going against walkons (one was 2/10), but Rust and Porter also lost more than they won. And when you factor in that Rust is supposed to be an excellent faceoff man, maybe Louie is really really good? I can hope.
-Do we know why Hunwick didn't play? We don't need another goalie injury already.
-I'm really trying hard not to pile on, but here's the Sauer Report from poster GoalCountReady at the Yost Post:
He looked good tonight...
If by good you meant absolutely horrible. The first Blue goal was a weak shot that hit him in the body and trickled in across the goal line. The second goal was one rebound on a shot he kicked up when he should have had control over. The third one was actually a tough save... Turnbull snapped it into the top corner with the quickness and it was a fantastic shot. I missed the fourth goal, but Ciraulo's goal could have been kept out of the net and Turnbull's final goal was the result of some nice tic-tac-toe hockey that caught him on the wrong post. If it makes you feel any better the Hagelin--Caporusso--Turnbull line looked GOOD.
The Michigan Daily had a liveblog of the event. They weren't thrilled about the goaltending play either. This could really snowball in a hurry.
So we're off to a good start. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day. We don't need to be going into games against Boston College and potentially Minnesota with a goalie still questioning himself. And I'm driving out there, so I'd appreciate not seeing us get blown out.
Ben Winnett's profile closed out the Checking In feature for the year.
The Michigan Hockey edition of "MGoBlogs" at MGoBlue kicked off with a feature about Captain's Practices.
I'm never afraid to admit I was wrong, when I was in fact wrong. Matt Hunwick was the last defenseman cut from the Bruins in training camp (and logically would be the first call up). There were many times where I called him out as someone who I didn't even see as an AHL player, let alone an NHL player. I'm happy to admit I was wrong on that one, and I wish Matt all the best.
It's crazy to think that six years ago right now I was still thawing out after The Cold War. Today it was something like 86 degrees.
I still have nine more of these previews to go. I didn't think I was that far behind. Chad Kolarik is next.