If there's one thing that Michigan is good at, it's landing very talented Italian-Canadian forwards. And the newest one is the next player previewed, Louie Caporusso. It seems impossible not to like this kid. He's a great interview...every answer is exactly the attitude that I want to see in a hockey player.
Last Season: Caporusso led the St. Michael's Buzzers in scoring with a 23-27--50 line in 37 games. If that wasn't enough, he posted an incredible 14-19--33 line in 20 playoff games. He was also the Eastern Player of the Game in the Canadian Junior A Prospects Game.
He was picked in the third round by the Ottawa Senators, whose top scout was "adamant" that the team draft him.
Expectations: He's a kid that I'm excited about. He's drawn comparisons to a more offensive-minded Andrew Ebbett or a slower version of Andrew Cogliano. Not to say he doesn't have speed, but Cogliano was kind of a freak in that regard.
His line--he, Turnbull, and Hagelin--was outstanding over the weekend, combining for 17 points and a +16 rating. Practice reports had indicated that he and Hagelin seemed to work pretty well together, and it has carried over into the exhibition season.
Everything I've read indicates that he's a pretty solid all-around player. Good skater, good stick-handler, good shot, good forechecker, responsible defensively, and a good faceoff guy (he won 16 out of 18 in the Blue/White game, including a few against Matt Rust).
The one downer is that he's had some pesky injuries the past couple of seasons. He's not that big (5'10" 185), but hopefully he can avoid the injury bug this season because he looks to be a productive 2nd/3rd line center.
He's not as highly regarded as Cogliano was coming in, but he should be a productive player in his freshman season. "Drew Cogs" had 28 points his freshman season, but was pretty ineffective after the World Junior Championships. Depending on how the power play units shake themselves out, Caporusso could--and probably should--at least approach those numbers. Especially if his line plays as well in the season as they have thusfar.
Level of Necessity: 7 out of 10
This team is going to have to score by committee. There's no TJ Hensick coming to save us and put up close to 70 points. I don't see the third line of this team being your typical "Grind Line". The third line needs to be a scoring line. It doesn't mean they can't be good defensively as well, but they're going to have to put the puck in the net if we're going to win hockey games.
Louie is another one of those guys that I believe with gain the confidence of the coaches enough that they will feel comfortable playing him in most situations. He seems to have developed instant-chemistry with Carl Hagelin, and chemistry is important when you're trying to blend a dozen new faces into the lineup.
And he's another guy that can win faceoffs. Since we don't yet know if Porter can, it's nice to know that we've got two guys on the roster that should be capable-at-worst at it in Caporusso and Rust.