Friday, October 05, 2007

Breaking Down the 07-08 Wolverines: Matt Rust

The only incoming freshman that played for the US NTDP is center Matt Rust.

Last Season: As a member of the Under 18 team, Rust put up 14 goals and 19 assists in 57 games, to go along with 85 penalty minutes. He also had 2 goals and 2 assists at the World Under 18 Championships.

He didn't tally any points in the U-18s close loss to Michigan at Yost, but he did impress me with his solid two-way play and his skating ability.

The Florida Panthers picked him in the 4th round of the NHL Draft, and their scouting director called him an "outstanding" faceoff man.

Expectations: I love this kid. "Two-way player" isn't in the dictionary, but if it were, his picture would be there. He's one of those guys that can play in any situation. He can lock down on the other team's top line. He can play on a scoring line. He can take important face-offs. He'll thrive on the penalty kill. Even though he's small (5'10" 180) he'll hit. He's not an offensive dynamo, but he can put the puck in the net and feed his teammates.

You'll probably hear Kevin Porter and Andrew Ebbett dropped as comparisons. And while he may not turn into the 40-50 point scorers that those guys eventually did, he should provide a lot of the same qualities in terms of defense and--in Ebbett's case--faceoffs.

As far as expectations for him in terms of points, let's use Kevin Porter as a baseline. Rust had 33 points as a senior in high school with the U-18s, while Porter had 8-30--38. Fairly similar, though Rust's points were closer to 50-50 goals and assists. They were both 4th round NHL draft picks. As a freshman, Porter had a line of 11-13--24 in 39 games, with 51 PIMs (which he has since cut dramatically) and was +11.

So that's a pretty fair gauge in terms of expectations. I'd expect 20-25 points, solid +/-, 55-60% on faceoffs (the high end of that is absolutely outstanding, but if we can have guys around 40%, maybe we can go to the extreme in a positive way with Rust). The point total could be adjusted up or down slightly depending on what line he plays on and what linemates he has. He's going to be an important part of this team, and I'm happy to have him.

Happy bonus: His little brother plays for Honeybaked right now. It's about time we start getting some guys in school here who have younger siblings who are also good at hockey.

Level of Necessity: 7 out of 10

As I said earlier, he's the type of guy that can play in every situation. Plus there are no worries with regard to the competition that he's faced (as there are with guys like Winnett and Quick). He played for the NTDP, which means he has the equivalent of 1/2 a season at the collegiate level under his belt already.

It wouldn't shock me a bit to see him as the top freshman center (though they may roll with Caporusso if they want a guy to center a scoring line).

Other Stuff: Rust was also the featured player in today's Checking In. Antoine Pitts also did a profile of him.

I also think it mentions warranting that it may be wise to temper the expectations for Ben Winnett down somewhat. Indications are that it might take some time for him to get used to the college game. I don't deny that I've probably been high on some of these "Level of Necessities" and with my expectations. It's the optimistic homer in my coming out. I'm trying to be as fair as possible, but it sounds as if I went high on that one.

The Wolverine ($ link) posted a preview of the 15 forwards today, including projected point totals for each player. Without giving away the individual breakdown or any of the comments about the players, I will say that they have our forwards accounting for 373 points this season. By comparison, last year's forwards scored 351 points. I've talked before about how I think we're actually deeper up front this year, even if we don't have those Hobey-type players like Hensick and Cogliano. I'd expect similar totals from the forwards (just more spread out) and much less from the defense. That guesstimate doesn't seem unreasonable, however.

Andrew Cogliano scored his first NHL point tonight in Edmonton's 3-2 shootout win over the Sharks.

*anny Richmon* now has a blog on Yar*barker. Interesting that he lists himself as a forward/defenseman.

Nice win by the Wings last night over Anaheim. The game went to a shootout, but the Red Wings dominated it the entire way through. Corey Perry deserves to get called out for his actions--so here's hoping Don Cherry saw the clip. Anyway, Perry was hit from behind by Dallas Drake a couple of years ago and so Perry decided to return the favor. When Drake got up, the two players decided to fight. The only problem: Perry wears a visor (shocking). Drake motioned for him to take off his visored helmet (since it's part of the unspoken code and all) and to make things fair, started to take his own helmet off. While he was doing that, Perry decided to sucker punch him, never removing his helmet. It was a decent fight after that, and the best part was the camera remained on Perry while he was in the penalty box, and you could tell that Drake was giving him an earful. Well deserved, I'd say.

That whole team is a bunch of hooking, holding, interfering, hitting from behind, elbowing thugs. I will say, though, that that Getzlaf is a hell of a player. Rafalski is one of the best skaters in the league and he made him look silly a couple of times late in regulation.

I would gladly take 81 more just like that one. Great effort for the first game of the season.


Tom said...

It's a shame that Perry is such a punk because he has a ton of talent. Then again, I'm not sure that anything else can be expected of a young player on a team captained by Chris Pronger. Maybe they should just go all the way back to old-time hockey (spoken with a Hanson brother accent). Bring in Claude Lemieux to coach, maybe trade for Steve Downie.

Packer487 said...

Agreed. Talented kid, but you can't go around pulling crap like that. I'd suggest taking off the helmet if he ever wants to fight more of a heavyweight than Dallas Drake.

One thing I forgot to mention in the post: How bad was the camera angle that Versus used in the shootout? Short of pointing the camera in the wrong direction, I don't think they could've found anything worse. You couldn't see ANYTHING.