Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recruit Report: Regular Season Winds Down

Any creativity required for busting UA_ and/or Fairbanks in the chops is absent today. Blame a rhinovirus that was surreptitiously foisted on me. So instead, let's take a look at how next seasons incoming class is performing. The BCHL's regular season schedule is complete. Both the NAHL's and USHL's regular season ends around the end of March.

Matthew Bailey
6' 1" 185lbs - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Right Wing - Tri-City Storm/USHL
Matt has likely not been having loads of fun with Tri-City this season. To put it succinctly, the Storm are the worst team in the league at 8-35-1. They recently were mired in a 19 game winless streak. Matt turns 18 this April 5th and is in his 2nd full year of juniors. With the Neepawa Natives in 07-08 Matt tallied 13 goals and 15 assists in 56 games. Looking to upgrade after giving his committment to UAA, Matt tried out initially with Sioux Falls where he impressed. However, with just two spots available for imports Matt was left on the outside. Word got to Tri-City and viola Matt found himself a spot. This season he has scored 7 goals and 12 assists in 43 games. My evaluation would be that Matt has put together a decent season in a tough situation and he's done so as a 17 year old. The next step for him should present a challenge. Not many true 18 year olds in the WCHA on the whole; and generally they take 1/2 a season at least to come up to speed. As a kid who's been described with "top end potential" I'd expect we'll see him improve each year.

Lee Baldwin
6'3" 210lbs - Victoria, British Columbia
Defenseman (LH) - Victoria Grizzlies/BCHL
Lee is a veteran junior player. He turns 21 this April 26th. Lee played Jr. B from 03 through 06 before playing the last three seasons in the "B", first with Burnaby in 06/07 and 07/08 and this season with Victoria. Lee was traded for several players so Victoria could add a physical puck moving D-man for it's RBC year. Lee hasn't disappointed. He lead the league this season in scoring from the blueline with 13 goals and 40 assists in 56 games. 7 of his 13 goals came on the power play and he scored one shortie. This very recent article in the Victoria Times Colonist has some good quotes ... Grizzlies Assistant Coach Victor Gervais said,
"I think he's the best defenceman in the league. I think a lot of guys are scared of him. Anybody that big who can hit that hard - they don't want to test him."
Lee should be able to hit the ground running at UAA. His maturity gives him a bit of a headstart. He won't come into the WCHA and lead the league in scoring as a freshman defenseman but Seawolf fans should expect at minimum to see another big good skating blueliner that can handle most situations.

Gustav Bengtson
5' 10" 180lbs - Stockholm, Sweden
Forward - Kenai River Brown Bears
Gustav was the first of the early recruits that UAA has begun to pick up over the last couple of years. Many other teams pick up committments from 16 year olds but it was new for UAA. Such things come with a bit of risk. Gustav has had a tumultuous junior career. He made a very very good Cedar Rapids USHL team in his first season but his youth combined with a strong lineup found him sitting more than playing. After about 25 games he was traded to Texas in the NAHL and played regularly there scoring 9 goals with 13 assists in 37 games. This season Gustav found himself without a home while Texas took a year off. He was picked up by Topeka and bada-boom right back on a deep team where he seemed to only move down on the depth chart. Topeka had a high number of veteran returners. And no matter how you slice it ... those kids are getting ice time first. Gustav only skated in 14 games for Topeka before being traded to Kenai. With Topeka he had 0 goals and 2 assists; in 19 games with Kenai, he has 2 goals and 7 assists. My evaluation is that Gustav will come to UAA needing to show the coaching staff that they were right when they recruited him. I was told he is a shifty playmaker. I believe that his junior career has been plagued by ill-fitting situations. He'll have to find a way to put all that behind him and become a competitive WCHA player. He turns 20 on August 31st.

Chris Crowell
6'2" 205lbs - Williams Lake, British Columbia
Forward - Vernon Vipers/BCHL
Chris is a mature (turned 21 on February 5th) 4 year Junior A veteran. Chris is the 5th leading scorer and Captain of the team. His 12 goals and 31 assists in 58 games is a small rise since it was announced a few weeks ago that he'd be joining the Seawolves this coming fall. His 112 penalty minutes is the lowest in his 4 years at Vernon. My initial thoughts about Chris is that he is a "character" recruit. He will almost certainly be a role player on the ice but I'm expecting the coaching staff will be looking to Chris' leadership potential as time goes by.

Wes McLeod
6' 1" 185lbs - Kamloops, British Columbia
Defenseman - Prince George Spruce Kings/BCHL
When Wes was still a toddler in Kamloops there was a pretty good defenseman named Scott Neidermayer playing for the hometown Blazers. Wes was listed on the most recent Central Scouting Service NHL draft report at #119. In 58 games with PG he nabbed 6 goals with 24 assists. This was his 2nd season in the "B" with Prince George. As a 17 year old, he scored 3 goals and added 11 assists in the 58 game season. Wes is an elite recruit for the Seawolves. He turned 18 back at the end of September. He should adapt to the WCHA relatively quickly though he'll likely have a bit of maturing to do before he reaches his full potential. If he progresses as projected then perhaps he becomes a flight risk before his senior season.

Mickey Spencer
6' 1" 185lbs - Gibbons, Alberta
Forward - Cowichan Valley Capitals/BCHL
The "Mick" finished the BCHL regular season with 31 goals and 23 assists in 60 games. That goal count was 7th best in the league and highest on his team: and his point total was 4th best on the Capitals. It's difficult to peg Mickey as a pure "scorer" watching boxscores and following his career from afar but his goal count in both of his seasons at Cowichan was significantly higher than his assists. At minimum we should expect to see another quality power forward in the mold of Josh Lunden, Tommy Grant or Craig Parkinson.

So that's it for now. The BCHL playoffs start this weekend. I'll have another recruit report/update following the end of the USHL/NAHL regular seasons. I'll include info at that time on the 10/11 class. Don't expect much coverage of the 11/12 recruits as they're far enough out that I can be lazy for now about covering them. These 5 players replace outgoing seniors Mat Robinson, Shane Lovdahl and Jeremy Smith. They also replace the two players (McCabe/Daychief) that left the program in October. One other player joins the team next season as a transfer; Anchorage-born defenseman Brad Gorham transfered from tOSU and should have at least two years of elibility.


Anonymous said...

Lee Baldwin will be, what, the fourth of current Seawolves to come up through Victoria, BC, minor hockey? Ask "Wings" about him. They played together for years.

Suze said...

Since Crowell is now 21, I assume he won't be playing in the playoffs?

Thanks for your hard work and all the excellent information Donald!

Anonymous said...

Remember,you can't spell FAILURE without UAF!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

No he will be playing. As long as you don't turn 21 before the season starts then you are good.

Anonymous said...

Where does Aiken fit in? did he come in to replace McCabe/Daychief?

Suze said...

In some cases, a player will turn 21 during their last year of junior. If so, a player cannot continue playing once their 21st birthday occurs if they are inline for the NCAA the following season. If they do continue to play, the player will lose a year of eligibility - again something that most coaches aren't that keen on when recruiting a prospective athlete.

Taken from http://www.playyourgame.com/ncaa_eligibility_explained.html

Anonymous said...

It's not uncommon for players to continue playing past their 21st b-day. Guys like Lovdahl and Crowder played after their 21st b-days. All you have to do is enroll or be enrolled in college and carry at least 12 credits by your 21st b-day because your 5yr clock starts at that time.

Anonymous said...

I am new to UAA hockey, and I was just wondering if this is considered a normal UAA recruiting class, or above average???

Donald Dunlop said...

I don't think this is the "best" UAA incoming class ever. But it has some potential to be pretty good. It's always hard to tell until they hit the ice. I think the best recruiting class UAA has ever had was the one that are now Juniors ... Clark, Crowder, Lunden, Backstrom etc ...

The 10/11 class is looking really strong though ... Bennett, Camerson, Gellert and Sproule are pretty much all studs in my book. Anyway ... it will be real interesting to follow them next year.

seawolvesfan said...

Wes McLeod is green, any reason for that?

Donald Dunlop said...

Every once in a while Blogger's formatter gets some weird glitch and won't apply a format in some random place. I corrected it three times and it didn't take.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification.

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