Friday, November 28, 2008

Recruit Update: The 09-10 Class

It's deep enough into the junior hockey season to analyze the play of future Seawolves in their various leagues. UAA's freshman class next season will be comprised of 5 players. 3 are playing in the BCHL, 1 in the USHL and 1 in the NAHL. In alphabetical order:

Matthew Bailey
This 6'1", 190lb 17 year old (turns 18 in April) is playing with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. This is Matt's 2nd full year of junior hockey after spending the 07-08 with Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Matt tallied 13 goals and 15 assists in 56 games. He was named to the Canada West U17 team. He currently has 4 goals and 9 assists in 18 games this season which puts him at 4th on the Storm roster. His current +/- rating is -2 which must have just recently dropped since I'd been tracking him at a + rating whenever I looked. It's notable because two of the other leading scorers have -12 and -20 ratings. Matt has a pretty nice shooting percentage at .174 and only 6 penalty minutes.

Matt gets described with terms like "top end potential". He was originally tagged as being a 10-11 recruit but his solid performances this season have given the UAA staff the confidence they needed to accelerate Matt to the upcoming season. It will be interesting to watch his remaining season to see if he is able to increase his production. Tri-City had lots of off-season challenges and is virtually starting fresh this season. They are tied for last in the West Division with a 6-13 record. Des Moines in the East Division is 2-10 currently with the poorest record.

I greatly anticipate seeing Matt in a Seawolf sweater. The big question will be how quickly he'll adapt to the college game as an 18 year old. Some kids rock it from the beginning but others take some time before they start making an impact. Matt's coach Tom Rudrud said he "is a strong power forward that skates very well and is good along the walls. He also has displayed a good touch around the net". "... strong power forward"? As a 17 year old in the USHL. I notice that. It tells me that he is competing physically well with older players. I'm going with that as the reason that I think he won't be slow adapting to the college game.

Lee Baldwin
6'3" 210lb defenseman Lee Baldwin is currently manning the blueline for the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL. The Grizzlies have the third best point total in the league. Lee has scored 6 goals with 16 helpers in 25 games. 3 of his 6 goals have come on the power play. 3 of his 6 goals have been game winners. Lee's experience is a combined 6 years of Jr. B and Jr. A hockey from 03 through 09. He has progressed regularly and local hockey writer Travis Paterson used Rob Blake as an example for Lee's style of play.

I am not sure how to rate Lee's chances for loads of playing time but I'm sure he'll get more than a few opportunities. The team will have a total of 8 defenseman on the roster to begin the season. When Heisenberg listed Baldwin's verbal, one of the first things I noticed is that Lee wears #77. If a player at his level sees enough of Ray Borque in himself to have the confidence to wear that number then I assume he's got some game. His coaches and UAA's staff have said enough of the right things about Lee to make me a believer.

Gustav Bengtson
So far the 5'9" 175lbs Bengtson is experiencing another junior season filled with uncertainty. Gustav's first junior experience last year was promising in the beginning. He was drafted, tried out and made the very talented Cedar Rapids squad in the USHL. But by the 20 game mark it was pretty clear Gustav was buried down the depth chart. So he hit the road for Texas in the NAHL. Gustav never "tore it up" in Texas but had several nice stretches of play where he contributed and he played every night. Then Texas takes this year off while they build new facilities.

So it's off to Topeka for him. And Topeka has quite the quality roster and looks to be one of the strongest teams, nice... Right? You'd think so but it seems Gustav is lost there. Topeka is 17-3-1 in their first 21 games. He has appeared in 12 games. I heard a rumor that a shoulder injury kept him out of about 3 games but it seems the others have been healthy scratches. There was speculation in a comment here that he was again on the trade "wire". Topeka makes a road swing through Alaska next week with games on the 5th, 6th and 7th against Kenai in Soldotna and the 10th, 12th and 13th against the Avs in Wasilla.

Wes McLeod
In 27 games Wes McLeod has 2 goals and 17 assists for the Prince George Spruce Kings. The Kings are in 6th place in the BCHL Interior Confernce standings with 14-11-1 record. There are two important pieces of information that identify Wes as a quality player. His listing on the NHL's "watch list" as one of only 3 BCHL "B" rated players and his invitation to play in the CJAHL prospects game both peg him as a player with loads of potential.

Wes will turn 19 not long after starting at UAA. I'm going to assume that he'll adapt to the speed of the college game relatively quickly. Shyiak noted that he skates well and is a confident player. Part of the headline for Wes should relate to his future potential. In other words we won't see the best of Wes next season. I expect he'll shows lots of good signs and may even awe a fan or two. But as a sophomore and then upperclassman he should just get better and better.

Mickey Spencer
The 6' 1" 185lb 19 year old is having a reasonably good season so far with Cowichan Valley in the BCHL. He has 13 goals and 13 assists in 31 games for 3rd overall on the team. Last season he scored 27 goals with 12 assists in 53 games. Cowichan is 15-14-1 so far this year for 3rd place in the 4 team Island division.

I'm assuming that Mickey will require some adaptation to the college game. It seems that more than a few Seawolf freshman start off well in non-conference games then level off in production until after the halfway point in the season. Mickey could surprise or he could take a while to get up to speed like ... uh ... perhaps a Tommy Grant?

That's four quality recruit stories and one who engenders many questions. There is reason to believe however that the UAA staff know what they are doing when recruit a kid. Everyone that Shyiak has brought in has shown the skills they were described to have. So in my mind that means Bengtson could be a contributor.

26 comments:

Suze said...

Thanks Donald, nice job! I was looking forward to your Sunday Potpourri, but this was even better!

Donald Dunlop said...

Thanks. These recruit updates are never fun to write simply because of all the different websites and pages you have to look at to get everything correct. I actually started this on Friday but was so not into doing it that it took til today to finish.

Suze said...

I know it's a lot of work, and it is truly appreciated.

sitkafan said...

UAA is still out of the INCH rankings, but 16 on the collegehockeynews KRACH Ratings

http://insidecollegehockey.com/5Polls/0809/polls_0710.htm

http://www.collegehockeynews.com/ratings/krach.php

Anonymous said...

UAA is #15 on the USCHO online poll. We don't play and we move up four spots. Cool.

seawolvesfan said...

looks like some great recruits, hope at least one or all(im dreaming) step up and point producers(there numbers look good but could be better)cuz were defintely going to need them to step up. hate to say it but avoiding a miracle were gonna lose some of our top producers. great work DD

MeanEgirl said...

You guys had a hell of a weekend this past weekend. =D

Congrats on the ranking. UAA is FINALLY starting to get some respect! Too bad you guys don't have another bye week.. then you could move up four more spots.

You might be seeing me in my UAA jersey at the Sully in December....................

David said...

I hope we get to see Wes as an upperclassman....

akhockeyfanatic said...

Donald, thanks for this great info. Sounds like more talent is on its way. The really good thing is - as the program continues to prosper and be successful, recruiting should get easier. Although I have to say that Shyiak has done a great job of recruiting some very talented players during his tenure. BTW does anyway know where Daychief ended up?

Donald Dunlop said...

MEg:
December? UAA's next home game isn't until January.

seawolvesfan said...

cuase for concern:

they sound like solid recruits(but the theme in recruits this and next year is that the majority of the players are "future" projects-im sorry but we need goal-scorers, and a future starting goal-tender) im defintely not hating or putting down our recruits im just saying i hope they step up and become div.1 point per-game guys

just a sidenote: my word verification is SWEDE for this comment...

oh and SUZE to happen to work at a local high school?

seawolvesfan said...

meant to ask: SUZE do you happen to work at a local high school?

Donald Dunlop said...

seawolvesfan:
This class of incoming recruits is pretty good considering it's only 5 guys. I'd call three of them "can't miss" guys and the 4th isn't far from me attaching the same words. The 5th kid has questions.

I'm not sure what you expect but it sounds like the kind of kid you want is the top 1 or 2 percent of available talent. Don't hope for that. Kyle Turris, Joe Colbourne, Phil Kessel, Thomas Vanek etc aren't likely to be drawn to a geographically isolated D1 school. Firstly, they're only looking to play for 2 years at the most. Secondly, being at a traditional powerhouse is something that is seemingly mandatory for 1st round picks.

UAA's success will have to come from finding the unrecognized talent and/or diamonds in the rough and developing them to their fullest potential in the 4 years they'll be in school. Guys like Kevin Clark, Josh Lunden, Paul Crowder, Curtis Leinweber and Tommy Grant. And once in a while they'll likely start getting the best Alaska players to stay here.

Forget about the "pure sniper" ... that kid is going to Minnesota, Wisconsin or Harvard if they've got the grades. UAA will not win recruiting battles with those schools. The one recruit I didn't talk about is potentially a coup ... in other words UAA didn't have to fight a top school for him because they got to him early.

Look at Patrick Weircoch for an example. Elite kid wanted to go to Wisconsin ... they wanted him to wait another year because they have PLENTY of other elite kids. So he bails on his verbal to them and goes to DU. He wouldn't be at DU otherwise. See what I'm saying?

Also ... scoring stats are a poor judge at best in terms of how a kid will perform going from Junior hockey to D1. How much a kid scores depends greatly on how good his team is.

I didn't make it clear in the post but Matt Bailey probably has as much potential as any forward UAA has brought onboard in recent years. And Wes McLeod should be another (or better) than Robinson, Lafranchise and Leinweber. Lee Baldwin is at minimum another Backstrom.

As for goaltenders ... the Seawolves have a junior, sophomore and freshman in residence. That means they won't be signing another until the 11-12 class at the earliest.

I guess what I'm saying here is that this class is pobably better any UAA has had over the last few years.

Anonymous said...

Donald, you are right about the players that will not come to UAA. Even a guy like Luke Salazar for DU, who UAA and other reputable programs offered a full-ride scholarship, chose to walk-on to an elite program like DU. In a way, his scholarship is indirectly being used on David Carle. For those that don't know, David Carle was diagnosed with a career-ending injury, but is still a scholarship player and assistant coach at DU. A guy like Mickey Spencer might want to go to a place like UAA because of the ice-time and opportunity that UAA will offer him. We play one of the toughest schedules in D1 hockey, and that appeals to guys who could possibly become very special, but weren't given opportunities to play as much at a more elite program. Whatever the reason, Shyiak and CO. have secured guys that will develop into his prototype forward/defenseman like a Lunden or Crowder or LaFranchise. Tyler Moir is a good example of this years recruit class. 6 foot + and 180-210 pounds. That is how Shyiak plans to implement Seawolf hockey so to say. Then you add guys like Clark, Robinson, Leinweber and you have a good diversity of players. I know this sounds goofy, but kind of like the old Nintendo game "Ice Hockey." I am looking forward to seeing Bengtson in Wasilla, and I hope that some other UAA fans are interested in making the trip.

Anonymous said...

I heard Winston Daychief wasn't having fun, so he withdrew from school and went home. I suspect he will try to go pro, because it seemed like the college life wasn't for him.

Donald Dunlop said...

I too heard Winston was "having fun" with the schoolwork. Understandable. School isn't for everyone.

Just a couple of additions to the number for our BCHL recruits ...

Mickey Spencer scored 2 goals, Lee Baldwin and Wes McLeod tallied 1 each over the weekend.

Suze said...

seawolvesfan, no I don't work at a local highschool.

We plan on going to the Avs games to check out Bengston, just as we did last year.

seawolvesfan said...

DD
im not expecting to get the best junior players who have a clear shot at the NHL, there are plenty of junior players who average a point a game or really close and we need those kids to help our team get even better and more productive. im not bashing our team and espcially our freshman. but if you dont average a point in juniors, the odds that your going to in the toughest league in div.1 is pretty bad. Kevin Clark, Josh Lunden, Paul Crowder, Curtis Leinweber and Tommy Grant are all players that started producing at least half a point per game and have blossmed, we need future seawolves to keep that up. and i know numbers arent everything, id rather have a real team that plays together and have a losing record then have a team have a winning record thanks to a copule of punks on our top line. its just that in my whole life of really paying attention to the boys, there hasnt been a winning season and i want one, when we went to the XCEL Energy Center thanks to GLENCROSS, FOURINER, PAREZ, KING-REITER i was estactic and really proud and i want to feel that all the time

Donald Dunlop said...

seawolvesfan:
Nothing wrong with wanting I suppose. As long as your desire is tempered with reality.

seawolvesfan said...

DD:

are you saying that our program cant become a powerhouse? cuz i was brought up to believe anything is possible, and is. you can say all you want about how our course studies arent appelaing as other college's, and how geographically we cant get five-star recruits but i believe-do you-is it wrong to dream? our team has already surpassed my expections and im esctatic and real proud to be a SEAWOLVESFAN

Donald Dunlop said...

I've been proud to be a fan of the Seawolves since long before you were born. LONG BEFORE.

In fact when you were still rolling your Tonka trucks around the backyard in 1999, I was on the Internet representing for the Seawolves. My internet reputation is one which includes the label of "hopelessly optimistic". Other interneters make fun of me for my overly optimistic views.

I only hope that if the Seawolves have any difficult years in the future that you'll support and represent as much as I have during the last 10 years in which we've experienced MUCH disappointment and heartache.

The Seawolves can become respect worthy and competitive in the toughest conference in college hockey. It isn't wrong to hope for more than that. But you must temper that enthusiastic hope with realism. If you don't then your enthusiasm is likely die from unfulfilled expectations.

One step at a time. One step at a time. This isn't the first time that UAA has had a decent first half to be excited about. The team is TOTALLY unproven in the 2nd half of the season. Let's hope they can continue the success we've seen for the full 08-09 season before we worry about becoming a "powerhouse" eh?

seawolvesfan said...

DD:

um you still wore their CYGAN jersey in school during his senior and our hoorible season when we went 1-28-7 i think...well i did, 2nd generation fan=born a fan die a fan. im also a die-hard red sox fan so i know what hardship is, up until 2004-forever.but dont you agree this year seems different? the stats in special teams could be better, but we ve developed a winning attitude and i hope we can keep that up.

seawolvesfan said...

by the well i played with HOTWHEELS not tonkas, they sucked and easily broke apart

Anonymous said...

Red Sox? Why them?

seawolvesfan said...

seriously: anon 12:11 PM, are you asking me why im a red sox fan?(3rd generation fan)or are you asking why would i feel hardship? um you know they didnt win a world seris in almost a century. and before 2004 to know ive felt hardsip, dissapointment, heartache, and stomach aches. they didnt just lose-they raised it into an art form. they saying being an red sox fan makes god feel sorry for you-that was true...

Anonymous said...

spencer will suprise a lot of people. given the chance by the coach he could rise up and be a big time player.

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