Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rutledge Leaving the Team? 7 Skaters Make Final Draft Rankings

There was a fair amount of Michigan hockey news today, starting with the news that Jared Rutledge will not be with the Michigan hockey team next year, according to a report on The Wolverine ($ link). The Daily cited this report on their website as well, before amending their story to reflect that Rutledge told them, via text, that he will be returning next season. 

Spath said on the Yost Post message board that he can "100% guarantee" that Rutledge won't be back next year and told me on Twitter that his source is "impeccable". He also mentioned that Rutledge "could return in 2014-15". Since it's a $ link, I won't post any further details, though it's not hard to read between the lines about what's happening or where he might be playing. I have no reason whatsoever to doubt Spath, but it's a little odd that Rutledge is denying the report. I'm sure we'll find out more in the coming days, but I wouldn't expect to see him on the ice next year. Going elsewhere, playing a ton, and hopefully getting his confidence back is probably best for both parties, rather than him splitting time with two other goalies that have college experience and another recruit that was just brought in to compete for the job. Best of luck to Jared, whatever he decides.

Spath's article also has some recruiting news, including a blurb about a player who was supposed to be in the 2013 class but is reclassifying to 2014. We'll talk about that once it works its way out from behind a pay wall.

In other news, NHL Central Scouting released their final Draft rankings today. Seven current and future Wolverines appear on the list:

JT Compher - 34
Michael Downing - 49
Tyler Motte - 84
Nolan De Jong - 111
Alex Kile - 136
Andrew Copp - 142
Evan Allen - 157

2014 recruit Dexter Dancs dropped out of the rankings after being ranked in the midterm. 

Michigan's seven affiliated players on the list is tops amongst NCAA programs. Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth each have six. PSU (2), Wisconsin (2), OSU (1), and FYS (0) combine for fewer ranked players than the other two B1G schools. 

In other news, the OHL is including language in their tryout agreements with players that might make them ineligible for NCAA hockey. No shocker, the OHL are a bunch of dicks. College Hockey, Inc. has reached out to the NCAA for clarification on the matter and should hopefully have an update in the near future.

Billy Powers is being "prominently mentioned" for the vacant UConn coaching job. Bryan Hogan will play in Germany next year. Andrew Cogliano is up for the Masterton Trophy (HT: Center Ice) Cogliano and Hagelin are in the mix to be on the cover of NHL 14. Vote early, vote often. Also, where the hell is JMFJ in that contest? 

Lastly, I'm pretty sure I missed writing about this, but the club officially announced that Mac Bennett will be the captain next year with DeBlois and Copp alternates. That shouldn't surprise anyone as they're the three obvious choices. I love that Copp is wearing a letter as a sophomore. That means we've got three straight seasons (at least) where Michigan won't be turning over all their captains like they did this past season. Andrew Copp man. Andrew Copp.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Having a Seat Over There: Zach Nagelvoort

Even with the emergence of Steve Racine down the stretch, there was speculation that the Wolverines would look to bring in a goalie next season. They've done so, picking up a commitment from Zach Nagelvoort today. Nagelvoort played this season for Aberdeen in the NAHL (he started the season with the Soo before being traded at his request to gain some more playing time). On the season he is 17-6-2 with an impressive 2.10/.936. Since being acquired by Aberdeen, Nagelvoort is 8-1-1 with a 1.66/.949. He ranks 3rd in the league in both GAA and save percentage (though his save percentage is only 2 points out of the top spot).

Despite some great play down the stretch from Nagelvoort, the Wings missed the playoffs. I've been told he'll be with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL for their playoffs, so maybe he'll see some postseason action yet!

While he was on the Soo, they posted a long interview with him on YouTube:

Last year he was 10-6-1 with a 2.27/.921 with Traverse City and Kalamazoo in the NAHL.

MGoBlog dug up a quote from his coach in Aberdeen that was very complimentary:

“Zach came in and immediately injected the team with confidence. He is a very confident goaltender and person and it rubbed off on the rest of the team. We know we have a chance to win every night when he is in goal and during the last two months of the season, that was the mindset in every game and one of the reasons the team played so well.” Winter also said that Nagelvoort’s strengths in goal lies within his athleticism. “Zach is a very athletic goalie, who doesn’t give up on plays and he is very quick from side to side. He makes the 2nd and sometimes 3rd saves you need to stay in the game and keep momentum going and you almost never see a bad goal scored on him. I think all that combined with his confidence makes him an elite goaltender at this level.”

This gives Michigan five goalies on the roster for next season, with Racine, Jared Rutledge, Luke Dwyer, and Adam Janecyk. I think it's pretty automatic that one of them won't be with the team next year. Racine you'd figure is a lock and I have a hard time believing that Janecyk would leave before his senior year when he's proven to be at least capable. Dwyer has never really played, and there was talk (though I don't know if it was more than speculation) that Rutledge could go back to the USHL for a year to get some confidence back. Time will tell.

Even with Racine's play, there's definitely an opportunity to earn playing time. I'd imagine that Racine gets first crack at the job, but, like last year, the best player is going to play.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Trouba Signs With Winnipeg

Jacob Trouba will forego his final three seasons.
Photo: Bill Rapai

The Wolverines have suffered their second defection of the offseason as Jacob Trouba has signed with the Winnipeg Jets. 

The freshman defenseman won Best Offensive Defenseman and was named first team All-CCHA. He was also a finalist for CCHA Rookie of the Year and won a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Only Alex Guptill and AJ Treais had more points than his 12-17--29 line, and only Guptill had more goals. He also blocked a team-high 53 shots and led the team in penalty minutes with 88. He also led the team with seven power play goals and 14 power play points. He was second on the team (!) with 115 shots.

He quickly endeared himself to Michigan fans due to his hard hits and absolute rocket of a shot. He was at his best in one of the playoff wins over Western Michigan when he had two highlight reel goals to lift Michigan to a victory. 

His departure means Michigan will be replacing three of their top four defensemen next year, with Jon Merrill also going pro and Lee Moffie graduating. Mac Bennett, Kevin Clare (who it now sounds like will be back next year), Mike Chiasson, Brennan Serville, and Mike Szuma will return on the blue line. The Wolverines will also add Michael Downing, Nolan De Jong, and Spencer Hyman. It was also mentioned as a possibility that Kevin Lohan could join the team next year. So Michigan will have bodies on the blueline, but there are some big skates to fill. Downing is the best candidate to be able to step onto the top pairing and play with Bennett. 

If Trouba skates with the big club before the end of the season--as I imagine he will--he will be the 19th Wolverine to play in the NHL this year. Wisconsin currently leads the NCAA with 19 players in the NHL (they have a 20th on a roster, but he has not played yet, so they could easily pull back ahead). 

In other news, it's time for the annual jersey auction. I imagine those #8 jerseys will fetch a pretty penny. There are 5 options to pick from this year, with the GLI jerseys also up for bid. It looks like Moffie, Lynch, and Treais kept their blue jerseys, while Rohrkemper kept his white jersey and Sparks kept the GLI blue jersey.