Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The 09-10 Seawolf Freshman Class

(Top: Baldwin, Bruijsten, Crowell.
Middle: Currier, Darwitz, Gellert.
Bottom: Naslund, Spencer, Sidor
... click to enlarge)

For better or worse there will be some pressure on this years freshman class to add some offensive production, play sound defensively and contribute to overall team success. How much success this year's team ultimately acheives will likely reflect how well this group of players performs. As I try to say every year, having excessively high expectations for freshman in the WCHA is folly. But I have to honestly compare this years class favorably with our current group of Seniors when they arrived. Backstrom, Clark, Hunt, Lunden, Olthuis Tuton and Selby ... oh and some kid named Crowder who signed after his junior year with the NY Rangers. This freshman class has the potential to be more impactful than that group over time. We'll see.

Lee Baldwin - 6'4" 203lbs, Defenseman
There are lots of reasons to expect that Lee will find a regular role on the blueline fairly quickly at UAA. Four veteran returners are locks. Curtis Leinweber may be the fifth but could be slotted in a forward role. In either case, Lee looks to be the best resume'd blueliner among the rookies. All I had to hear to know this is for one BCHL hockey person to make the comparison to NHLer Rob Blake. Lee was an intimidating physical force with Victoria last season. He had a very nice progression in scoring through his Junior A career leading the league's blueliners in scoring. He turned 21 at the end of April so he brings that maturity to the equation as well.

Mitch Bruijsten - 6'4" 195lbs, Forward
Not every player that comes to UAA comes with a publicly available scouting report from a reputable source. Mitch is one exception to that trend. If you haven't read this evaluation from Hockey's Future regarding him, you should. It says stuff like, "... another big guy with great speed and a good shot" and "noted to be hard to move off the puck" and "ability to either setup plays or finish with positive results". Having followed quite a few junior players to UAA, I'm left with some high expectations for Mitch's success as a Seawolf. I mentioned somewhere in a comment string that a St. Cloud fan who follows Junior A prospects closely called Bruijsten the next great European born player in the WCHA. Mitch should see a lot of ice-time and could progress to a 2nd line role fairly quickly depending on circumstances.

Chris Crowell - 6'2" 205lbs, Forward
Chris is the embodiment of a veteran junior A player. He played 4 years for the Vernon Vipers and captained the team in his final season. He turned 21 back in February. His leadership experience and maturity lead me to believe that we'll see him in the Seawolves lineup with great regularity in his rookie season. His size and strength lead me to believe that he'll be a very effective and important role player. Expect to see him on a line designed to shutdown the opposition offense. He won't be up any big numbers offensively but could chip in a few along the way. Most importantly, I have the impression that he brings the ability to raise the level of play from his linemates.

Tyler Currier - 6'1" 198lbs, Forward
Tyler isn't unknown to me but until he hits the practice rink and sees some playing time, it's difficult to know how much he'll play. I expect he'll be one of several forwards on the roster that will be competing for spots in the lineup from weekend to weekend. Patience with his own development will be a key to his ultimate success. Few players come from the NAHL and make an impact as a freshman in the WCHA. I think that applies with Tyler as well. He had reasonably good numbers over the last two years with the Alaska Avalanche (lead the team in 08-09) and a decent shooting percentage. The hometown-boy factor could be a nice positive as he said it has always been his goal to play for UAA.

Drew Darwitz - 5'8" 165lbs, Defenseman
With loads of blueliners on the squad it may be difficult for Drew to see a maximum amount of playing time this season. As quickly as I say that, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibilities for him to step onto the ice and earn a regular spot in the lineup. His Fairbanks Ice Dog's coach had nothing but raves about him. He earned the Defensive Player of the Year award for the NAHL last season scoring 2g-37a which suggests to me that he was the team's power play quarterback. That's great experience and bodes well for his future. UAA's defensive lineup though is pretty solid and some of his playing time may be dependent on injury and/or where Curtis Leinweber lines up.

Alex Gellert - 6'1" 170lbs, Forward
I so was already anticipating Alex's arrival in 10-11 postively, so to see him come a year earlier bodes well for continuing what looks to have been some good chemisty with Mickey Spencer. Alex's 2nd year of juniors saw him tripled his offensive contributions comapred to his 1st season. He does seem to be a player on the development upswing. If so, then I'd hope to see between 5 and 10 goals from him but more importantly, his assist numbers peg him as a bit of a playmaker. So perhaps 15 assists (or more) would be possible. Either or both would be nice to see and clear signs of positive things to come. He turns 20 next week. I anticpate that he'll see some power play time somewhere during the season. How much will likely be tied to any production he creates.

Daniel Naslund - 6'3" 205lbs, Forward
There is very little to be found by me on the Internet to gauge Daniel's skills here. He's said to be able to handle the physical part of the game and has good wheels for his size. So I'm going to take an educated guess for most of my analysis here. He comes to UAA late in the summer, directly from Sweden with none of the oft coveted North American "experience". The exact same situation that led Nils Backstrom to UAA. I've never been anything but happy that Nils is part of UAA's team. I'll make you cry at the end of this season when I do a my annual Senior Tribute post about Backstrom. That's how much I like him. Bringing in a player late from Europe to the NCAA is no simple task. If UAA's coaching staff took the time and effort to make it happen then I'd bet dollars to donuts that there is a good reason. So I'm anticipating that we will see Daniel get real good ice-time in lots of situations i.e... power play, penalty kill. Don't be surprised if you see him on the #2 line.

Mickey Spencer - 6'0" 189lbs, Forward
In both of his seasons at Cowichan in the BCHL, Mickey potted more goals than he earned assists. 27g-12a and 31g-23 assists. It's not dramatically relevant but it does put him in a "goal scorer" light. I'm equally optimist for Mickey's success at UAA as I am for Alex Gellert. Either or both of them could produce more than just a few goals. If Alex knows how to get the puck to Mickey and he can do some finishing as freshman then we can all have high hopes for their careers. Mickey turned 20 back in June so he is another seasoned player with some probable development upside. He'll also likely get some chances on the power play and of course continuation will depend on production.

Dusan Sidor - 6'0" 166lbs, Goaltender
Dusan spent last season with the Seawolves but redshirted so this season will be his official freshman year. As the assumed 3rd goaltender, Dusan has the important role of taking a lot of shots in practice and growing into a time when he can step forward and challenge for playing time. Jonny O is in his last season and Bryce has proven ability. Any starts he might see this year would likely only be for an emergency. He is one of 5 european born players on this years squad.


Anonymous said...

Let's hope we have some secondary scoring from this incoming freshman plalyers. It would be great if they could complement clark, lunden and grant.
Look's promsing.
Let's fill the sully and be the team to beat in the 1st half.

Anonymous said...

Last year we swept the UA_ squad who was 4th in the CCHA last season. Hopefully we can beat the 2nd place team with Michigan coming to the Sully!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to come meet the new guys on Sunday at the Meet and Greet

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Dusan redshirted last year???

How did that slip past me.........

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

And, Dobson if you want to inform of us of anything, tell us that you are instead of calling people out for there B.S. and then, making yourself looking like a double douche by not making any sense when you call me out, and then you yourself spit twice the B.S. that I did.

Anonymous said...

I thought that Tyler Currier was gonna redshirt this year? Guess that changed???

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