Continuing on, we get to Michigan's own version of the Little Ball of Hate, Danny Fardig.
Last Season: Fardig continued to do what he does best. Skating around the ice like a mad man, hitting everyone in sight, forechecking, killing penalties, blocking shots, and chipping in with points every now and then.
In 41 games, he put up just 2 goals and 4 assists, was +5 and had 36 PIMs (which isn't bad at all considering the amount of hitting he does and the fact that 10 of those minutes came via a misconduct).
He plays a role, and he does it really well. The one thing that he doesn't do well: Faceoffs. I have no data to back this up, but I'm pretty sure that winning under a third of the 230 faceoffs he took last year (32.9%) makes him the worst faceoff man in the free world. I know that Yanic Perrault is thought of as hands-down the best guy in the NHL on draws, and he has a career mark of around 62%. 33% is kind of mind-boggling. Toward the end of the season, they stopped having him take draws, though he continued to play center.
Expectations: Anyway, he's going to be in a battle with a few other guys for ice-time, since one of the "usual" forwards or the freshmen has to sit. I expect that based on what he brings to the defensive side of the game gives him an edge over someone like Naurato who is mainly effective in the offensive zone. I believe that we're going to score quite a lot of goals this year, even if we don't lead the nation, so I would rather have a tenacious forechecker, and someone who is tough to play against in the lineup over a guy that is going to pot 10 goals and not do much else.
In his two years combined, he has 13 points, so it's pretty unlikely that he's going to reach double-digits this year. But he's not a guy whose contributions are measured on our side of the scoresheet anyway. I'd expect another 5-8 points, 30 PIMs or so, and a +/- on the low side compared to the rest of the team, but still on the positive side (his line doesn't score enough goals to climb the charts in that regard...they're not expected to).
One of the reasons that I like this kid so much is that he does the dirty work and he's willing to give up his body. His 34 blocked shots led the team's forwards. It's even more impressive when you factor in the number of minutes he plays and the fact that he had just one in the last 13 games of the season. That "slump" at the end of the year indicates that if he's consistently in the lineup, his blocks total could actually rise significantly (that would put him around defensemen-level, which is kind of amazing).
Level of Necessity: 6 out of 10
Despite a lack of offensive numbers, he brings it defensively. He's our best shot-blocking forward. He's a good penalty killer. He's a great forechecker. And he brings some of that "nasty" that we don't have a ton of. He's a tough guy to play against, which means he's a nice guy to have around. And most importantly, he skates his ass off every time he's on the ice.
Competition brings out the best in guys. I don't expect to see Fardig lose out on a lot of chances to dress because of the battle for the 11th/12th forward spots, simply because he's a pretty consistent guy. You know what you're getting out of him and he's not going to hurt you by being in there. He's better at playing the pinball role than Ciraulo, and the other guys in this battle for ice-time don't really bring what Fardig does. It makes him unique, and I expect that they'll want some of that in the lineup.
I got my tickets this morning for the Icebreaker this weekend. I'll bring my laptop, but I don't know that I'll be able to update from St. Paul as I'm going to be busy seeing friends, I'm not sure my hotel has internet, and my laptop is hit and miss if it will turn on. If I can't find a way to update, I'll have full coverage when I get back to Madison on Sunday...after I watch the Packers/Redskins game of course.