Saturday, May 25, 2013

Having Some Seats Over There: 3 Prospects Go Blue

Michigan has been busy on the recruiting front over the past month, picking up three new commitments. The most recent--and the one that I'm actually writing about in a timely fashion--is defenseman Nicholas Boka, who just announced his commitment via Twitter.


Boka was among the first seven players to commit to the NTDP U-17 team for the 2013-14 season. He joined fellow Michigan commitment Brendan Warren in that first group. That would make him a 2015 commitment. He's also a former Spartan commitment. Boka is listed at 6'0", 175. 

Russ Bitely called him a "B-Player" (above average) at the Select 15 Camp a year ago:

A good-sized kid who is probably still growing and he has a lot of upside to his game. He is not a flashy offensive-defenseman although he moves the puck well and isn’t afraid to skate it up either. He is quite mobile and plays aggressive. Boka showed some physical play at the back-end and plays sound position as well as controlling gaps. He looks to have pretty heavy shot from the point too.

ProspectScoutingReports.com wrote the following about him:


Nick Boka is yet another talented defenceman on a very solid back end for Compuware U16. Boka is dependable in his own zone, providing stable and well positioned support. Engaging in a physical brand of defence, Boka does very well for himself in puck battles along the boards and will throw his fair share of hits. Latent offensive potential should continue to develop has his skill set suits that branch of development. Boka has good mobility and reads the developing offensive situation allowing for successful transitions. In addition, an under-utilized shot  from the point is another tool Boka possesses. 


USHR liked him when they saw him playing forward:
Michigan State went with big and physical Nicholas Boka. We first saw Boka back in November as a forward and liked him at that position as he simply punished defenders on the forecheck. At the Select 15 Festival he played a simple and composed game and we pegged him at #30 in a deep group. Has good feet for a big guy and plays a pro-style game. Boka is a bit of a projection pick by the Spartans, but a good project to have. The Plymouth, Mich. native put up a 14-22-36 scoring line through 61 games played -- at both forward and defense.
And after the Bauer Invitational:
Michigan State recruit is developing into a big, two-way defender who plays with an edge. Has good feet for a big kid and seemed more confident with the puck on his stick this weekend than at the Select Festival over the summer. 
The Sarnia Sting hold his OHL rights. He was a 6th-round pick, but fell in the draft due to his commitment to the NTDP.

OHL Scout Kevin Hess told MiHockeyNow that Boka is a "Good skating defender that plays on the edge.  He is a punishing defender that finishes a high percentage of his checks.  Great offensive instincts with a heavy shot from the point."

Also pledging to the Wolverines in the not-so-distant past are goaltender Hayden Lavigne (2014 or 2015) and defenseman Cutler Martin (2014). MichiganHockey.net has profiles of both Lavigne and Martin.
Lavigne is a big goalie, listed at 6'3", 190 at the moment. He played for the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL last season and was 9-7-1 with a 2.48/.922. He was a third-round pick of Tri-City in the USHL Draft, but the Dukes are said to be expecting him to return next season.

With the recent commitments of Lavigne and Zach Nagelvoort, and Steve Racine being just a sophomore, that would seem to close the door on Jared Rutledge returning to Michigan after a year in the USHL. It was confirmed that he will not return to the team next season. I wish him nothing but the best (as long as he stays out of the Big 10!), and I'm sorry it didn't work out in Ann Arbor.

Martin hails from East Lansing and currently plays for the Tri-City Storm in the USHL. He's listed as 6'1" 210 and put up a 4-12--16 line with a -2 rating and 74 PIMs in 59 games last year. He was far-and-away the leading defense scorer on Victory Honda in 2011-12, with a 12-22--34 line in 38 games. Only one defenseman in that talent-rich league had more points than him that season (and he had 38 in 40 games), so he seems like he might have some offensive pop in his game.

Storm Head Coach Josh Hauge said the following of Martin: "He can move pucks and keep the game simple, but at the same time he’s got nastiness to him and can be really hard to play against in front of the net."

Martin will again be with Tri-City next year. If Lavigne joins him, I just might have to hit up a couple of USHL games next season. Chicago and Dubuque aren't too far away.

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