Saturday, November 20, 2010

UAA Recruit Sam Mellor Inks Letter Of Intent

Mellor lined up for a draw in the just completed WJAC versus Russia ... photo credit Andy Devlin/Hockey Canada Images
The Great Northwest Athletic Conference website's 2011-2012 National Letters-of-Intent Signees page puts to rest the unfounded rumor, hand-wringing and other speculation in this blog's comment section that UAA Seawolves Recruit Sam Mellor of the BCHL's Trail Smoke Eaters would switch his commitment from UAA to some other WCHA school.

The GNAC lists other signees from the fall signing period for UAA as well.  Scott Allen, Donnie Harris and Tony Larson also put their names on the dotted line.  Derek Docken had signed earlier.  Welcome of course to all those guys.

I had argued there was zero reason to suspect that Mellor would back out of his verbal commitment with the Seawolves and this confirmation gives me every reason to feel like doing the self-righteous Church Lady dance.  Assertions may continue here that Mellor is some sort of threat to go to the WHL.  Allow me to address thos now.

You may recall that former UAA Recruit Spencer Bennett was taken in the NHL draft by the Calgary Flames.  The Flames encouraged and/or directed him to the major junior circuit probably in large part to Chris Chucko's history of non-development at the University of Minnesota.  Bennett will have a big jump to make after he finishes this (his second) year with the Portland Winterhawks.  

In 94 games with that club he has scored 27 goals and added 28 assists.  Marginally bettering .5 points per game in the Dub ain't exactly going to secure you a spot at the AHL level.  Bennett will likely see much development time at the "AA" ECHL level as a result when his junior career ends following his "overage year".  

Had this B-rated prospect attended UAA he would have 4 years of development and positioned himself much better to transition to the AHL.  The book isn't complete on his decision to go to major juniors but there are some lessons in it already for future collegiate recruits considering making that switch.  The visibility and development that playing in the WCHA provides a young drafted (or UFA for that matter) player is not to be underestimated. 

Bennett has increased his musculature exactly zero in the Dub with the 80 game schedule ... he was 6'3" 185lbs in 07-08 in the BCHL and this season he's listed at 6'3" 185lbs.  Think that would be the case in the NCAA where the weight training regimen is substantially more intense?  Doubtful.  Folks familiar with this major junior vs. college discussion are familiar enough with all the additional arguments so there's no real point in me rehashing them here.  There are well-reasoned arguments on both sides of that discussion.

There's no doubt in my mind now that Sam Mellor understands the advantages that playing in the WCHA provide.  His signing clearly reflects it.  He will don the Seawolf Green and Gold next sesason barring getting drafted by the college-hating Sutters in Calgary.  And even then, don't be surprised if he doesn't follow their urgings and sticks to the college route.

As far as I'm concerned, this settles the speculative discussion here about Mellor.  Welcome to the fold officially Sam.  The UAA team you'll be joining is showing it's fans some nice potential this season.  Your addition along with the rest of the nice talent coming to UAA next year bodes well for a future with more success.  And a belated Happy Birthday to Sam who turned 18 a week ago today.

Credit also the UAA Coaching Staff with ensuring this prized 2011 recruit comes to Anchorage.  They recognized his talent early and got his commitment while he was still a 16 year old. And it should be obvious they have done the necessary work to keep him.


annabelle said...

That's great news.

Donald Dunlop said...

For no particular reason I was about 99% sure this was going to happen.

I've been following Sam pretty closely since his verbal was first announced and everything I've seen him say or do with regard to hockey has been really well-grounded and shown a pretty mature attitude.

He's going to be a key piece of the puzzle for UAA in coming seasons. I don't want to hype him as the type of player that turns a team around on his own. But he's going to be an important player for the Seawolves.

Truth is that he could very well have opted to forego his verbal to UAA as Matthew Friese did but he's shown great character in helping Trail become an improved franchise in the B and the fact that he's "played up" for several years now I think has given him some good character and perspective.

I'm thinking coming to UAA "felt right" to him and I'm happy to see he's stayed with that choice versus pursuing options with a "so-called" big name school. We're gonna like him and I bet he's gonna like being here.

Suze said...

He is going to be a real fan favorite! Welcome Sam! We are jazzed to have you wearing the Green & Gold next season. Good things are in store for UAA hockey!!

Anonymous said...

Woot! Woot!!

On Wolves said...

Please God let me be proven wrong...

Donald Dunlop said...

I see no need to ask some supreme being to prove you wrong. Unless a mortal proving you wrong plus a god proving you wrong somehow ends up making you right. You know ... like multiplying negative integers and getting a positive result?

Unless and until you've go some basis for a claim that Mellor won't actually come to UAA then I invite you to drink a big glass of stfu on this issue. He sure as hell won't be going to any other NCAA school.

On Wolves said...

I'll pass on the STFU, thanks though.

Am I proven wrong because he signed a LOI? I'll have to go back and read my posts, but I'm pretty sure I never said he would not sign a LOI... As I'm sure you're well aware Dunlop, a LOI in hockey is worth exactly as much as the paper it's printed on.

Further, as I've said many times before, I hope Mellor does come here. But I am skeptical that he won't bolt for the Western League after being a high draft pick and looking at the prospect of either playing 30 games for a perennial bottom feeder in a conference that is about to lose two of its biggest names and playing 80 games in a league that produces more NHL players than any other in the world.

Have I ever said he would go to a different NCAA school? No, I have not.

Now, I will once again say: Please GOD, let me be proven wrong. (And so there is no further confusion I will be gleefully proven so when Mellor hits the ice garbed in Green and Gold)

Donald Dunlop said...

Awww ...

And I wanted to be right now instead of waiting for next season. Sigh ... I'll save the self-righteous church lady dance for then I guess.

And OMG ... you're a BTHC will destroy the college hockey world guy too?

Donald Dunlop said...

Sorry .. I should add this ...

The WHL has knocked on his door as early as last season. If that development route were in any way attractive to him why wouldn't a 16 year old make that jump instead of staying in Jr. A?

There's only one reason. He values the NCAA advantages ... whether for the educational benefits or the off-ice training and development advantages.

I don't see that it matters what round he's drafted either. Unless he's going straight to the NHL the AHL has a minimum age limit (as I'm guessing you're aware) of 20. So, unless he plays some NHL games first he's faced with the choice of the WCHA (in green and gold) or the WHL (as assigned by whoever drafts him) where he'll have zero say about who he'll be playing for and no guarantees about playing time.

Dave Shyiak on the other hand simply has to guarantee him that he'll play in every game as a freshman here and that they'll build an offense around him etc etc ...

Sorry if it seems almost like a no-brainer to me that playing in the WCHA (even if it is for a "perennial bottom feeder") makes more sense in his case.

He sure never seemed to mind going to Trail and they weren't exactly projected as a top team nor had they any great success in that league. Everything I've seen from him tells me that he isn't some typical "me first" primadonna. He's a player that makes decisions about where he plays based on feel and has the character to stick with his choices. Maybe I read too much into him. But I'm not horrible at such interpretations ... so we'll see.

On Wolves said...

We'll see. I hope you're right.

Lots of guys go from Jr A to the WHL, Scott Gomez and of course Spencer Bennett come to mind.

And we are bottom feeders. That shouldn't offend you. I'm at every game in my UAA Sweater and one of my many UAA hats/caps, but we finish last or second to last every year, thus bottom feeders.

madhu said...

Wow..Really very well written article. Thanks for sharing such a info here..
Letter of Intent

Anonymous said...

Not bottom feeders this year onwolves!! Only one point out of 7th place in a 12 team league, that is not too shabby. Shyiak has this team heading in the right direction.

What UAA has desperately needed the past five seasons is solid, reliable goal tending, and our TWO freshmen goalies have really been something this year. Next year will be even better.

Read what other WCHA fans think about UAA, nothing but respect and complimentary words.

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