Friday, June 27, 2008

Good Knight

The disappointing side of recruiting has reared its ugly head again. 2010 commitment Jared Knight--long thought to be Michigan-bound despite overtures from the OHL--has decided to sign with the London Knights.

The good news is that he made this decision now and didn't go play for the NTDP for a year or two first. We were still two years away from seeing him set foot on campus, so there is plenty of time to keep on recruiting and fill that spot. He didn't bail on Michigan at the last second.

I'm disappointed, because by all accounts he's a very good player, but there's no ill will here. When you recruit the best players in the country, some of them are going to end up deciding that a different path is right for them. Good luck to Jared in the future. And don't give Moffatt any ideas about going to the CHL.

I apologize for the lack of content lately. Real life has gotten in the way. Here are a few other links I've come across in the past week:

DJ Powers from HockeysFuture reviewed the 2008 Draft from the NCAA perspective. There are a couple of quotes from Robbie Czarnik, including this one about his college choice:

As far as his choice of Michigan went, he said, "I committed when I was 15. I didn't really look at anyone else because that's where I wanted to go my whole life. I just can't wait to get there. I'm going to come in this year, see what happens and do my best.”

Fire and Ice, a New Jersey Devils blog, got some quotes from Brandon Burlon. Here's what he had to say about how long he might be in Ann Arbor:
"It depends on how it goes. If New Jersey says even after one year and I feel I'm ready, then so be it. But, if it's two, three, four years, it's not going to hurt anybody that goes to Michigan."

INCH also dug up some quotes from Burlon and had an amusing anecdote about Robbie Czarnik being drafted.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Four Wolverines Drafted

For the first time since 2000, the Wolverines did not have a player taken in the first round of the NHL Draft, but Michigan did have four incoming freshmen selected when the draft resumed this morning.

Brandon Burlon was the first of the quartet to go, being selected by the New Jersey Devils in the second round (#52 overall). Robbie Czarnik was taken at the top of the third round by the LA Kings (so look for him to be gone before his eligibility is exhausted). Greg Pateryn was taken in the fifth round by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and David Wohlberg was New Jersey's sixth round selection.

Certain teams are in love with taken Michigan players, and New Jersey and Los Angeles are two of them. The Devils have now selected eleven Michigan players and the Kings have drafted five.

Tristin Llewellyn, Scooter Vaughan, and 2009 recruit Lee Moffie were not chosen.

I'm pressed for time today, but I will have more later.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Last Minute Draft Articles

The NHL Draft kicks off tonight at 7 pm on Versus. By the end of the night, there's a good chance we'll know which NHL team will hold the rights to Brandon Burlon. Robbie Czarnik should be selected early tomorrow morning.

The New England Hockey Journal mentioned 2009 recruit Lee Moffie in their "Best of the Rest" section about potential draftees from the New England area. They said that Moffie has nice size and shoots the puck well, but there are questions about his vision and hockey sense.

DJ Powers from Hockey's Future has a list of the top 10 players in the draft who already have collegiate experience. Everyone's favorite Rink Rat vouched for her credibility in picking players that end up getting drafted despite not getting a lot of love in the draft rankings. Why do I bring that up? Tristin Llewellyn made the list at #8. Powers is very complimentary of his play, particularly late in the season. I have to admit, I smile every time I hear the story about Llewellyn taking power-skating lessons on the side in an effort to improve.

The newspaper I won't link to anymore had an article stating that the Wolverines have gotten calls from scouts about both Llewellyn and Vaughan. Amazingly, the article didn't mention either player's GPA or find a way to crack on their education and/or intelligence.

Lastly, the Arizona Republic discussed some of the young talent in the Phoenix Coyotes organization. Porter and Kolarik were both profiled. (HT: Bluevox at USCHO)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Schedule Released, Possible GLI Defections

The 2008-09 Michigan Hockey schedule has been released! The non-conference slate is kind of disappointing after seeing the teams we faced last year. It's kind of weird that Michigan is making the trip all the way to Boston to play one game (Harvard and UMass were rumored opponents, but obviously neither one went through). Even more strange is the fact that two days before they're in Boston to take on the Terriers, the Wolverines will face Niagara at Yost in a rematch of their first-round NCAA Tournament game.

The schedule can be divided into three distinct sections. The first and third sections aren't all that difficult, while the middle is absolutely brutal.

It will be important to get out of the gate in a hurry. Even with games at BU and Alaska, I'd argue that the first twelve games of the season all fall into the "should win" category. I'd say it's probably a disappointment if Michigan doesn't take at least 19 points out of 24 in the first six weeks.

Then comes a hellacious two months of games. From late November through the end of January, the Wolverines go: at Miami, at Miami, at Minnesota, at Wisconsin, MSU, at MSU, Michigan Tech, MSU/North Dakota, Miami, Miami. They then get a weekend against Bowling Green before playing MSU in a home-and-Joe and then a home-and-home against the national runners-up, Notre Dame. There are no gimmees in college hockey (see losing to OSU at home last year) but 13 of those 16 games look especially tough. Only the pair against BGSU and the GLI opener against Tech look to be "easier" games. That's a brutal stretch.

If Michigan ends up facing Michigan State on the second day of the Great Lakes Invitational, the Wolverines and Spartans will play each other five times in a ten-game span from December 5 to January 24. I actually really like that. The games with MSU are usually hard-hitting and entertaining as long as the Wolverines show up (MSU always seems to bring it). It won't be quite as fun as a best-of-seven would be, but there should be a little extra nastiness in there by the end of that stretch.

While the middle section of the schedule is fairly difficult, the end of the season looks to be pretty easy (on paper, of course). Michigan closes the season by playing LSSU and UNO in series at Yost, Ohio State on the road, and the usual season-ending home-and-home with Ferris.

The western regionals this year are in Minneapolis (Mariucci, not XCel) and Grand Rapids.

The roster for the USA World Junior Championships try-out camp has been released (Word document) and there are--fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint--a lot of familiar faces on the list. Amongst the 18 defensemen and 30 forwards attending the camp are: Scooter Vaughan, Robbie Czarnik, David Wohlberg, Matt Rust, and Aaron Palushaj. If I had to bet right now, I'd say Rust and Palushaj will be our only losses for the GLI. I didn't realize Pacioretty was too old, but that definitely is a plus for the Wolverines.

Draft Stuff:
USA Today has Brandon Burlon going 19th overall to Columbus.

TSN isn't quite as high on Burlon, ranking him 42nd overall. They compare him to Adrian Aucoin. The CSB ranked him #41, ISS has him 52nd, Red Line 21st, Bob McKenzie has him 59th and THN ranks him 58th.

Robbie Czarnik is listed as an Honourable (sic) Mention on TSN's page, which puts him in the 61-75 range. His rankings (in the same order as listed above for Burlon) are: 88, 32, 80, 97, 57. Seems like people are all over the board on him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Luke Glendening to Walk-On at Michigan

The 2008 recruiting class has a fifth member: Hotchkiss Prep's Luke Glendening. Per, he had eight goals and 20 assists in 24 games this season. He had both goals for the Bearcats in their championship win in the Flood-Marr Tournament.

There are two Michigan connections here: Glendening is from East Grand Rapids and was on Michigan Hockey Online's Division III Second Team in 2007. Also, his Hotchkiss teammate, Mac Bennett, is slated to become a Wolverine in 2010. Speaking of Bennett, Gatineau took a flier on him in the 12th round of the QMJHL Draft.

Assistant Coach Billy Powers called Glendening "an intelligent centerman who is strong physically and plays with an edge." He is 5'10", 185.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pateryn's In...Who's Out?

Nice find--or horrible find, depending on how you look at it--by mgoblog. In an interview with WDAY, Dean Blais, coach of Fargo's USHL team, said that Greg Pateryn will not be joining the Force next year because he is headed to the University of Michigan. Apparently as of three weeks ago, the plan was for Pateryn to head to Fargo, but Red Berenson called him last week and said one of his players "got in trouble academically," opening the door for Pateryn to come in.

Now the waiting game begins. Who won't be coming back? I guess it wouldn't be the off-season without a random defection...

Update: It sounds as if bringing Pateryn in is more precautionary than anything. I would imagine that with Mitera, Kampfer, Vaughan, Llewellyn, Langlais, Burlon and Pateryn in the fold, Chris Summers will be playing forward more often than not. I'm excited about the idea of seeing #4 streaking down the wing again.

Monday, June 09, 2008

NHL Draft Profiles of Burlon and Czarnik

The NHL's official draft site is slowly but surely releasing profiles of the players that will be available in this month's NHL Draft. They've added profiles and scouting reports for Brandon Burlon and Robbie Czarnik.

-Czarnik patterns his game after Ales Hemsky and his nickname is "Bob Z" which I think is pretty funny.
-Czarnik's best friend is his future Michigan teammate, David Wohlberg.
-Central Scouting said the following about Czarnik:
“Robbie competes hard, plays with a lot of energy and back checks with authority. Has a tendency to be too aggressive on the puck which puts him out of position. He skates well, has a good wrist shot, but needs to improve on his puckhandling ability.”

-Burlon likes to be the last player to put his helmet on, leave the locker room, and leave the ice.
-Central Scouting said the following:
“He’s not an overly big defenseman, but he has really good mobility and a good shot from the point. He jumps up into the rush well, but needs to improve on his defensive reliability. He played in a really small rink this year and was still able to move the puck quickly and well. Puck-skill wise, he’s good, and as he moves up, his decision-making will improve.”

-Burlon's coach chimed in as well:
“Brandon is a highly mobile defenseman with deceptive speed. His strengths include a pro shot and the ability to get it off quickly, especially one-timers. He has good vision on the ice and plays a controlled and composed game. Areas of improvement and growth include his physical play and decision-making of when to join the rush. He battles hard, is a fierce competitor and is extremely good at running a power-play.”

I usually get a kick out of reading the draft profiles because I like seeing who these kids idolized growing up and sometimes there's some goofy stuff in there.
-The best signature shootout move was Drew Doughty's: "Backhand, forehand, cheese"
-Tyler Ennis's "first career goal" was scored into his own net. Ditto for Patrick Wiercioch.
-Jared Staal's best advice comes from his older brothers: "Seriously dude, [Screw] the police." I'm surprised they printed that.
-Kelsey Tessier patterns his game after ex-Wolverine Michael Cammalleri. Mathieu Brodeur patterns his after Mike Komisarek.
-Future Terrier Corey Trivino wears #10 because of Diego Maradona. That's gotta be a first in hockey.
-Mike Fisher isn't just popular amongst kids coming to Michigan.
-Alright, I made up that one about Jared Staal.
-Nick Larson patterns his game after Mike Modano and Tomas Holmstrom. Hopefully he patterns his skating after the former.
-It amazes me how many players still list Steve Yzerman as their idol or wear #19 because of him. Pretty cool.

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Take on the New Rules

Western College Hockey and MVictors pointed out some rules changes coming to NCAA hockey for next season.

1) All games will have 2 refs and 2 linesmen
We've covered this one before. I don't see any way that this rule change isn't a complete and utter disaster. The CCHA has like one competent referee (and it wasn't so long ago that he was a linesman), the WCHA had problem after problem with their refs this year, and I haven't really enjoyed Michigan's experiences with HockeyEast refs all that much (Scott Hansen, I'm looking in your direction). Now we're doubling the amount of referees? Where are these refs going to come from? The only possible positive would be if the CCHA needed Steve Piotrowski and Duke Shegos to come out of retirement. I just can't wait for the first time Michigan ends up with McInchak and Lisko. I had better stock up on remotes and monitors...

2) The shootout is optional
I really like the way the committee decided to deal with the issue of ties. Keep overtime as it is, let the conferences institute a shootout if they want to, and count all shootout victories as ties for PairWise purposes. I'm not sure how I'd feel about the CCHA adopting shootouts, though. I think you'd have to start awarding points for all overtime losses, and I don't necessarily like that in a season that contains less than 30 conference games. That being said, I do love shootouts. I search around Center Ice to find the games that have shootout potential. There's exactly a 0% chance I'd ever turn one off. I'm just not positive I want the CCHA to start awarding OTL/SOL points, and I don't think it'd be right to award 0 points to a team that lost in a shootout since it's such an artificial way to determine a winner.

3) Faceoffs take place on one of the nine dots
I've liked this rule since the NHL instituted it. It doesn't make that much of a difference, but I've never liked it when a faceoff would take place 2 feet inside the blue line. This rule gets rid of faceoffs in awkward positions and I like that.

4) Teams can't change lines if they ice the puck
Love it! This was one of the best rules the NHL came up with in their new rules package that was instituted after the lockout. You can ice the puck if you're dead tired, but you don't get bailed out with a free line change--and the other team is allowed to put new players on. Have fun with that, LSSU.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see that they didn't put in two of the NHL rules which I absolutely hate: The trapezoid behind the net and the automatic delay-of-game penalty for a player shooting the puck into the crowd in his own end.

The trapezoid penalizes goalies adept at handling the puck. I don't like that. It'd be like ruling that a defenseman isn't allowed to come in past the top of the circle. This isn't zone soccer or knob hockey. Why hurt a guy for being skilled?

I also don't feel that it should be all that difficult to determine if a player intentionally shot the puck into the crowd. I'm usually a fan of rules that are clear-cut, but this is one case where I would be in favor of judgment calls. If a guy is trying to throw the puck high off the glass but misses, why is he getting penalized? If there's pressure, sure, penalize him. But with all the crap they let go throughout a game, it infuriates me when a team gets a free power play for something harmless like a defenseman accidentally putting the puck into the crowd.

Also, I was happy to see they didn't ban teams from icing the puck when killing penalties.

They've adjusted the kicking the puck rule, but I'm not really sure how it's different from previous years. Again, I don't think it's all that difficult to determine what is a distinct kicking motion and what isn't. Why are we still disallowing all goals that hit a skate which is moving toward the net?

Overall, I like what they've done this off-season. I just hope they have a slew of competent referees waiting in the wings....

Barwis, Look Out! Brandon Burlon is Coming to Michigan!

Draft stuff:

Red Line is still a fan of Brandon Burlon.

Brandon Burlon rounds out Red Line's top 10 list [of defensemen - ed]. There's not much buzz about him, but we feel he'd be a solid choice anywhere after No. 20. He's got great feet and a mean edge. He's as fundamentally sound in his own end as any defender in the draft, and we think he's got some untapped offensive potential as well.

McKeen's got some of the numbers from the combine and a poster at Hockey's Future posted some of the data. It appears that Mr. Burlon did very well.

Top 5 Push-ups
Brandon Burlon - 49
Kelsey Tessier - 41
Cody Goloubef - 40
Matt Calvert - 39
Brandon McMillan - 38

Top pushing strength (in lbs)
Brandon Burlon - 424
Joel Champagne - 344
Justin Jokinen - 340
Cody Hodgson - 337
Peter Delmas - 328

Top pull strength (in lbs)
Brandon Burlon - 305
Cody Hodgson - 302
John Carlson - 301
Zach Bogosian - 295
Luke Adam - 289

So basically he destroyed everyone at the Combine the same way he's going to destroy Daultan Leveille next year.

TSN also complemented his performance:

Brandon Burlon (ranked 41st and going to the University of Michigan next year) also looked good on the bench and on the bike.

Also, listed Greg Pateryn as a potential fifth round pick in their mock draft. They had the following to say about the future Michigan blueliner:

Pateryn is a 6'2, 212-pound righty who will likely play another season of Jr. A with Ohio before bringing his physical style to the University of Michigan in 2009. Big and smart with good offensive instincts, his only question mark could be his knack for taking penalties.

Unfortunately, saying that Pateryn has a knack for penalties is akin to saying Charlie Weis has a knack for eating. He had way too many PIMs this year and, as I pointed out before, a significant amount of those resulted in power plays. He wasn't taking misconducts or coincidentals. That said, the USHL is a big jump from Michigan high school hockey. I'd gamble that if he stays in the USHL for another year, that number will go way down.

Lastly, the Barwis legend continues to spread: Hobey Porter, Chad Kolarik, Matt Hunwick, and Andrew Ebbett are in town working out with Barwis during the offseason. Chocolate milk for all!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Knight Watch

It's going to be a long 2 1/2 years before that highly-touted Class of 2010 arrives on campus. The London Free Press is reporting that the London Knights have arraigned for Jared Knight--and three other London draft picks who are slated to play for the NTDP next year--to visit the town next week.

Knight fell in the OHL Draft due to his desire to play for Michigan--apparently several teams were ready to make him a first-round selection. It's not major news that he's visiting London, but definitely something to keep an eye on in the future.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Chris Summers & The Coolest Table Hockey Game You'll Ever See

With Mitera committed to return for his senior season, Chris Summers became the odds-on favorite to defect during the summer. Well, it appears that won't be happening. Mike Spath chatted with the junior-to-be during the baseball regional and he doesn't sound like a guy that will be playing pro hockey next year. It's a premium article so you have to subscribe to get the good stuff--and it is good stuff--but the headline--"Summers committed to future at Michigan"--is pretty clear.

Next on the list, Max Pacioretty. Despite rumors that the Habs would like him to sign, the general feeling is of optimism that he'll return. Here's yet another account that points toward #39 returning to terrorize CCHA goalies for another year.

Christy from Behind the Jersey has just the solution to cheer up Wings fans. Those videos from KnobHockey definitely did the trick. I particularly like the one of Holmstrom and Fleury. I also enjoyed this video of smack talk from Jarkko Ruutu (NSFW language):

Speaking of knob hockey, this is quite possibly the coolest knob hockey table you'll ever see. It uses McFarlane figures as players. I don't know whether to be really impressed with the design or really amazed that someone has that kind of time on their hands. Then again, I spend countless hours breaking down walk-on Michigan hockey players, so I guess I shouldn't talk. I'd actually really like to try playing on that table to see how it is. It appears that the players are too big for the table and that the goalies don't provide much room to score, but it could be really fun. It's really sweet, nonetheless. That cardboard cutout of Crosby doesn't look right since he's not crying to an official.

This article might shine some light on why Dan O'Halloran seemingly hates Detroit. And it begs the question if the unknown assailant 25 years ago was a Red Wings fan coming back from the future, 12 Monkeys-style.

Lastly, I love used to sponsor the site and may again in the future--but this is just cruel.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Look to the Future: Class of 2010

After I'm done writing the article, I'll be having a seat over there. Time to take a look at the kids who will (hopefully) be joining the Wolverines in 2010.

First, a bit of news: Brandon Burlon was given the OHA Top Prospect Award. The OHA honors--or should that be "honours"--the six players that they feel have the best chance to go on to a career in the pros. Burlon was one of the six. He'll be receiving his award later this week at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Congrats, Brandon.

Mac Bennett, defenseman, Hotchkiss Prep, New England Prep
There's really not much info on Bennett out there. Hotchkiss went 13-6-4 this year and won the Flood Marr Tournament. Bennett was on the All Tournament Team.

He comes from quite the hockey family. His grandfather was the goalie victimized for Rocket Richard's 50th goal in 50 games. His father and four uncles all played pro hockey. Three of his uncles played in the NHL--two of them for Red Berenson (as an asst. coach)--and one was a two-time All Star.

USHR, in the above link, indicates that he had a 6-5--11 line as a freshman and a 1-5--6 line in the first 19 games of the season. They also claim that no defenseman in prep hockey is better at breaking the puck out.

Despite the lack of numbers, he apparently will be a high pick in next year's NHL Draft (even though he's a 2010 recruit, he has a March 91 birthday).

The New England Hockey Journal profiled Bennett before the season.

Jared Knight, forward, Compuware, MWEHL
Despite an injury that cost him a decent portion of the season, Knight was 12th in the MWEHL in scoring with an 8-21--29 line in 22 games for Compuware's 25-4-2 team.

In his return from the knee injury, Knight had a hat trick against Belle Tire. He is #12.

He likely would have been a first-round pick in the OHL Draft had he not indicated a desire to come to Michigan.

Jon Merrill, defenseman, Little Caesar's, MWEHL
Merrill led Little Caesar's defensemen with 2 goals and 9 assists in 25 games. He also had just 26 PIMs. His team finished 3rd in their league with a 15-7-3 record.

There have been rumors about him playing for Plymouth in the OHL rather than for the NTDP next year, but it looks like he'll keep his college eligibility.

He, too, would have been a very high OHL draft pick were it not for his collegiate commitment. Plymouth had him as the top defenseman available and he's widely thought of as the best defenseman in his age group.

Luke Moffatt, forward, Compuware, MWEHL
Ewwww. Moffatt led the MWEHL in scoring by 9 points with a 37-19--56 line in 30 games. He scored 17 more goals than the second-place player. He was held off the stat sheet just four times the entire season.

Moffatt was the #2 overall pick in the WHL draft, but it looks like he'll be headed to the NTDP next year.

One highlight of his incredible season was scoring all five Compuware goals in a game against Little Caesar's. He's #9 in the dark jersey.

He's really good. From what I've read, it's quite possible that he's the top forward in his class. Why do I get the feeling we'll be keeping our fingers crossed until both he and Merrill set foot on campus?

That does it for my review of our future players. I fully expect to have to write a mea culpa to Ken Holland tomorrow night (for some of the things I've written about him). So that will probably be next on the agenda. In the meantime, GO WINGS, and let's bring home Cup #4!

Note to the NHL: Sometimes when you market the heck out of a 20 year old player, he acts like a 20 year old. Crosby, grow up. Then again, it's not like his coach is setting a real good example. They better put the Waaahmbulance outside the Joe tomorrow night in case Detroit wins.