Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 Michigan Hockey Season Preview: The Forwards

First up is a look at the forwards. See MGoBlog for his preview from earlier in the offseason.

Our men up front scored 126 goals last year. 109 of those goals return for another season. That's 87% of the goal scoring from our forwards that's coming back. Last year, we brought back just over 69%. The year before that we brought back just 52% (God, Porter, Kolarik, and Pacioretty were good!). The point is, we didn't lose very much up front and we have significant less work to do to replace the outgoing offense than in years past. Brian Lebler, Anthony Cirualo, and kind of Robbie Czarnik were the only losses up front from last year's roster. In their place, we bring in Jacob Fallon, Luke Moffatt, and Derek DeBlois.

Moffatt was a highly-touted recruit, once thought to be the best forward in his class. He went #2 in the WHL Draft and very likely would have gone number one had he not made a commitment to the NTDP and college hockey. After a great season for Compuware in 07-08 (37-19--56 in 30 games) he never really replicated that success with the NTDP--though he certainly didn't play badly for them. He put up 21-20--41 in 67 games on the Under 17s in 08-09 and then was 9th in scoring on the U-18s with a 13-17--30 line in 56 games last year, including 5-10--15 in 28 USHL games. Red didn't talk much about him when he signed, but mentioned that he likes his hands.

Fallon is another very talented recruit whose stock took a dive last year. He was involved in some off-ice incidents that led to him being suspended for the early part of last year. He eventually left the USA program and went to the Indiana Ice of the USHL where he struggled, managing just a goal and 8 assists in 26 games. Still, he's a kid that's going to have a chance to come in and help us on the offensive end. Bang the MGoBlog link above for lots more on the freshmen.

DeBlois is a long-time teammate and friend of incoming defenseman Mac Bennett. He scored 11-22--33 in 55 games for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL last year, good for sixth on the team in points. He also was right up there in +/- and led the team in goals in the playoffs. McKeen's cited his tenaciousness and ability to get to the net as strong suits.

Now...who's back? Carl Hagelin becomes the first 50-point scorer to return for another season since Kevin Porter elected to come back for his senior year and won the Hobey in the process. Hagelin had increases of 6 goals, 13 assists, and 42 shots from his sophomore season. He went all Kolarik, taking far and away the most shots on the team (170...the next highest were Caporusso and Brown with 122 apiece). He was also Porter-ian in his consistency--he had points in 35 of Michigan's 45 games, including 19 of the last 21. He also had 5-6--11 during Michigan's run in the CCHA Playoffs and NCAA Tournament.

Louie Caporusso had what was thought of as a somewhat disappointing season after the previous year when he was one of the ten finalists for the Hobey. By the end of the year, however, he wasn't too far off his sophomore year's totals. He ended up with just 3 fewer goals and 3 fewer assists (albeit in 4 more games). His seasons did a complete 180 though. As a sophomore he started out on fire, scoring 18 goals in the first 20 games before cooling off in the second half. Last year, he had just 5 goals after the GLI (and just 7 after the outdoor game in mid-February), but finished up with 14-8--22 in our final 15 games. If he can put together an entire season, look out.

Chris Brown ended last season just 28th in points per game amongst freshmen, but Andy Taranto, Stephane Da Costa, and Danny Kristo were the only major conference rookies who had more goals. He faltered down the stretch (2 goals in our last 16 games), but proved to be a player who could make an impact on this level, getting to the front of the net, scoring some ugly goals, and becoming a finalist for CCHA Rookie of the Year in the process.

Yost Built favorite Matty Rust put up a very quiet 40 points, an 18 point increase from the previous season. He didn't increase his goal total much, but his assists went from 11 to 27. As always, he's a solid defensive player who takes shockingly few penalties (just 12 last year) for as physical as he can be. He's a great penalty killer and he takes more faceoffs than anyone on the team.

Then you've got David Wohlberg who scored 15 goals as a freshman, but just 10 last year. I seem to remember him having some nagging injury (back, maybe?). He's another physical presence who can play at both ends. I actually kind of forgot about him and then broke into a big grin when I looked at the roster again. I really like Wohlberg and I fully expect a bounce-back year.

Keep going down the line: Kevin Lynch was an absolute BEAST against Miami in the Regional Final and scored the game-winning goal in overti......aww crap. He had just 1 point before the GLI last year, but ended up with 16. Luke Glendening (another favorite) put up 21 points and was named a captain midseason. AJ Treais never really got rolling, but showed enough flashes to indicate that he'll be a pretty decent player for us. Lindsay Sparks had 4 goals and six points in a four game stretch, but didn't play a whole lot in the stretch run. Winnett was good for 6-8--14 and had one of the nicest shots of the year against FYS in the CCHA Playoffs, though he pretty much is what he is at this point. Scooter Vaughan has moved up front permanently, and I thought he did a lot of good things even if he's never going to put points on the board. Jeff Rohrkemper never looked out of place as a walkon.

There are a lot of good forwards on this team and a lot of depth. Last year was a bit of a down year in terms of offense by Michigan's standards, but we still ranked 12th in the nation in offense by the end of the year. If guys like Caporusso, Wohlberg, and Brown put full seasons together, we're going to score a bunch of goals.

I fully expect us to have a Hobey Finalist again this year. I can't decide if it will be Hagelin or Caporusso, but I think one of them ends up in the top ten. I love Hagelin's defense, his effort, his consistency, and how he's a pretty darn underrated offensive player--50 points really isn't easy. But I keep thinking about Caporusso's ability to get on rolls where he just can't be stopped. He's had half a season of that each of the last two years. If he gains some consistency, he could have a Chad Kolarik type senior season.

Either way, assuming that Louie stays with Glendening and Wohlberg (that line caught fire toward the end of the year) and Hagelin plays with Rust and Brown, we're going to have two dangerous lines who are every bit as good defensively as they are offensively. I think we'll be up closer to 160 goals this year, which would probably put us back into the top 5 in the country in offense.

I love two things about our forwards: Our best players don't give up anything in the defensive zone and most of our guys are killer in the faceoff circle.

Hagelin, Rust, Glendening, Wohlberg....they're all top-notch defensive players. I thought that Caporusso improved and made some really nice defensive plays as well. I remember him saving a couple of goals hustling on the backcheck. It was nice to see. Maybe that will end up being another area where we can end up comparing him to Kolarik.

As for the faceoffs, check this out:
Caporusso: 57.6% of 772 draws
Wohlberg: 54.7% of 159 draws
Glendening: 53.8% of 186 draws
Rust: 51.3% of 875 draws

Winnett and Treais were the only two who took a significant number of faceoffs and weren't over 50% (and Treais was just over 48 percent, which certainly isn't bad). After years of faceoffs being a weakness, it's really become a strength of ours--except apparently when we play outside. Caporusso, Wohlberg, and Rust were all within a couple tenths of a percent of their percentages from the previous season, so there's no reason to think anything will change this year.

Anyway, those are the guys up front for the 2010-11 Wolverines. Tomorrow we'll take a look at the defensemen.


Anonymous said...

The idea of a Hagelin-Rust-Brown line has me drooling. Is it Saturday yet?!?

As much as I'd love to see Louie have a Hobey year, I just don't see him doing it. He seems to have these lazy stretches, and no Hobey Baker Finalist can get away with that. Carl Hagelin has definitely caught many eyes, and the people who count know how quietly good he is, and I think he will be rewarded for that this season.

Anonymous said...

Interesting fact: Michigan actually returns a slightly higher % of goals scored than Miami does. Though, also less of our defense and contributors overall.

The forwards I'm interested in watching are:
Lynch (sometimes he looked like a 2nd-rounder, sometimes he was a non-issue, was his good play a product of his linemates, can he otherwise step it up? (I think a lot of his good play was part of being on that line, but I also think that he will be a force, albeit an inconsistent one, this year))
Wohlberg (assuming he no longer is bothered by his ¿back? can he perform like a junior version of his freshman self is expected to? (I think so, he really turned it on the last couple games, not as much as Louie, but a pretty good increase nonetheless))
Winnett (We always seem to have a random senior just really step it up their last year, will he be the next to, since he was certainly viewed as a high-end prospect coming to Michigan? (Personally, I think he will still score the occasional WOW goal from the 4th line, but will be otherwise same-old Winnett)

I think we can be pretty sure that our top two lines will produce a ton, our 3rd line should be solid regardless of what happens, but I think a lot of success will depend whether our third line is just good, or if it is great.

Anonymous said...

good class coming in, but in the fall, you have to watch out for spoiling apples. Hopefully, they will ripen.