Interesting hockey stuff is coming with great frequency these days. May it last all summer... er, as long as it doesn't include stuff like "Tambellini signs with LA. (You bastards!)"
There's an interesting thread on hockeysfuture.com discussing incoming recruit Andrew Cogliano. HF's boards are an interesting mix of idiotic Canadian 13-year-olds and people who really know what they're talking about, and you can see the difference in that thread. Two people chime in on Cogliano who know quite a bit about hockey.
Canadian hockey journalist extraordinare Bob McKenzie's take:
...I watched him play about 60 plus games this year and let me assure you it is my opinion that there isn't a scared bone in his body (very, very competitive when it matters most) and he regularly pays the price to score goals or to set them up. As with all offensive players, his defensive game needs some work, but I would not say it's a really weak part of his game at all. IMO, the only knock he's going to get is his size, but a lot of scouts I've talked to about him aren't all that concerned for two reasons. One, world class speed. Two, very, very strong, both in terms of strength on his skates and strength (core stability) in fending off hits and playing in traffic. Lots to learn, but he's a great kid from a great family and the upside on this kid is tremendous. If there's a draft, I'll be shocked if he's not a solid first rounder in spite of his height. Dynamic speed, good goal-scoring ability, great playmaking ability, fearless, competitive and a character player, IMHO.
Now, it should be stated that McKenzie is not a disinterested observer here. His son Mike plays on the Buzzers with Cogliano (he's heading to St. Lawrence in '06), so he probably knows Cogliano quite well.
Second is a guy known only as "moosefan." I've been reading HF's boards for years and it's clear that he is a scout of some sort, probably for a junior team. He attends all the important events for kids in Cogliano's age range. He's seen him... a lot. His take:
I have seen Cogliano play many times, I really like him myself. IMO he is possibly up there with Brule, Ryan for overall talent. He and Bertram are the two fastest in the draft, and I would put Coglianos goal scoring ability up there with Brules. I think Cogliano is one of those players that if he goes around 15th to 25th overall in about 4 years teams are going to look back and say "why wasn't he drafted in the top 10 of the draft"
I think myself he would have been better off playing in in the USHL. But he can't change that now so...but this guy proved himself at the U17s last year in NFLD and at the U18s in the summer as one of the best offensive talents that Canada has for his age group...so really I don't think there is going to be much to worry about with him. The only concern I had with him and I don't know if he fixed it or not was his emotions on the ice...I found when I seen him play that he would sulk alot to the ref and try to get his way on the ice, and I found he would overract sometimes over nothing...he may have fixed this I don't know. But I do know that it was said he is scared...well to me I never seen that as he was in traffic and everything so I wouldn't worry about that.
But to me this guy is going to be a world class talent.
That should get you *very* excited to see this kid in a Michigan jersey. He was regarded as a top-10 pick when he committed to Michigan a year or so ago and he has that talent. Concerns about the level of competition he's facing and his size may knock him down to the late first round, but Cogliano will be coming in with more talent than anyone since Brendan Morrison.
Also, the NHL is going to try to bump back their draft age by about nine months so according to, uh, that Bob McKenzie guy. Right now anyone born before September 15th of the appropriate year is draft-eligible, which is extremely confusing to a lot of people. The NHL would like everyone born in a particular year to be draft eligible the same year, and they aren't keen on having 17-year-olds in the draft, so back it goes.
This should be a net benefit for colleges, as most players will now have the opportunity to prove themselves in their freshman year of college before being drafted. This should reduce pressure on players to take the pro-now CHL route. The USHL's emergence is also helping in this regard, as obliquely referred to by moosefan in the above cut and paste. They've moved to "Tier 1," which basically means they're spending more money, and that coupled with the collapse of the NAHL has really improved the level of play in the USHL. The hockey community is picking up on it, too. The USHL is clearly a notch above other junior leagues like the BCHL, AJHL, OPJHL, and NAHL and is attracting a fair share of top-notch talent. If the USHL continues to improve another incentive to head to the CHL--the ability to play high quality hockey at age 16--will evaporate and more high-end kids will find the NCAA route attractive.
Finally, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has an extensive article on goalie recruit Billy Sauer with good news and bad news wrapped up in one little factoid: four colleges were recruting Sauer for '05, Harvard, BC, BU, and Michigan. That's a hell of a list of colleges pressing you to enter school early, which speaks well to Sauer's talent. It also implies that if Montoya returns and Sauer is asked to defer his enrollment a year that he'll have at least three sets of coaches in his ear about pulling a Lerg. Will he? Eh... probably not. And Michigan sounds like it has another excellent goalie coming in in Steve Jakiel, so losing him would not be a disaster, but it would certainly be a blow.
1. Lamar Woodley (Jr.) / Tim Jamison (R. Fr.)
2. Pierre Woods (R. Sr.) / Jeremy Van Alstyne (R. Jr.)
3. Rondell Biggs (R. Jr.) / James McKinney (Fr.)
The spot opposite Woodley is one of the biggest tossups on the entire team--expect the battle for that spot to last well into the season. Van Alstyne, Jamison, and Woods all have legitimate shots at the position. The prediction here is that Jamison emerges by midseason, Van Alstyne gets a share of time, and that Woods rides off into "what could have been" history, taking his place in the Colossal Waste of Talent hall of fame next to David Bowens and Kelly Baraka.
1. Gabe Watson (Sr.) / Pat Massey (R. Sr.)
2. Alan Branch (So.) / Will Johnson (R. Fr.)
3. Marques Walton (R. Fr.) / Will Paul (R. So.)
4. Terrance Taylor (Fr.) / Marques Slocum (Fr.)
All eight of these players could see time this fall. Branch was impressive in limited time as a freshman and continued his strong play into the spring. He will probably see extensive time spelling the two starters. Will Johnson seems healed from an ACL tear and has a size/speed combination rarely seen in defensive tackles. Walton and Paul have generated a minor amount of buzz.
Then you have the two freshmen. Taylor will be ready to play in the fall. He'll step on the practice field as Michigan's strongest defensive lineman. Slocum is also a candidate to see immediate time. With six linemen capable of playing in front of them, Michigan will have to quickly assess whether its worth burning redshirt years for Taylor and Slocum.
1. Chris Graham (So.) / David Harris (R. Jr.) / Prescott Burgess (Jr.)
2. Jacob Stewart (R. Jr.) / Scott McClintock (R. Sr.) / Shawn Crable (R. So.)
3. Brandon Logan (Fr.) / John Thompson (R. Fr.) / Pierre Woods (R. Sr.)
The linebackers were far and away the team's most disappointing position group last year. Pierre Woods went AWOL, Lawrence Reid was slowed by a degenerative neck condition that eventually ended his career, and Scott McClintock was all right but nothing special. Next year Michigan seems prepared to throw out three super athletes and see what sticks.
Graham has generated immense buzz since his arrival at Michigan and has a solid lock on the weakside linebacker position. Graham's probably only 5'10" but can fly and arrive with a pop. Harris was looking very good two years ago when he suffered an ACL tear. He's a better athlete than McClintock and will probably split time with him this year; McClintock is the most proven linebacker in pass defense (2 interceptions and 6 PBU's last year) but lacks big-play ability. The strongside position will be Burgess's first opportunity to prove that his five-star rating was for real. He's more of a weakside athlete but since Graham has a death-grip on that spot he'll have to play over the tight end. Crable will also figure in here and potentially as a pass-rushing defensive end.
1. Leon Hall (Jr.) / Grant Mason (Sr.)
2. Brandon Harrison (Fr.) / Charles Stewart (R. Fr.)
3. Darnell Hood (R. Jr.)/ Morgan Trent (R. Fr.)
The thinnest area on the team by a country mile. Lloyd Carr did recently say that Leon Hall "had a chance to be one of the best cornerbacks we've ever had here." mgoblog isn't buying that, but Hall has the capability to be a solid All Big Ten-type in the Jeremy LeSeuer mode. Grant Mason has a season's worth of experience as a nickel/dime back and will probably be all right in a starting role. Past that there is a lot of nothin'. Michigan WRs have been torching the DBs all spring and while it would be nice to think that everyone on the offensive side of the ball is Jerry Rice, the truth probably isn't so nice. Michigan has a major depth issue at CB. Brandon Harrison will be given every opporunity to leap into playing time this fall. Johnny Sears will also be given a close look, but he's probably headed for a redshirt since he's so raw.
1. Ryan Mundy (Jr.) / Brandent Engelmon (R. So.)
2. Willis Barringer (R. Jr.) / Jamar Adams (So.)
The strong safety position is another that probably won't be resolved until midseason. Jamar Adams seemed like Shazor's heir apparent last year but made a couple of glaring errors when he saw the field late in the year. Engelmon has made a push. Michigan seems to want to give the physically imposing Adams the job, but Engelmon is probably the smartest kid on the team and would be the safer choice. After the spate of huge plays the defense gave up last year, Michigan will likely err on the side of caution and Engelmon will win the job.
Mundy will be the free safety. He'll have to improve his tackling and angles to become a net benefit. There has been some mention that Mundy has been playing well, but not a ton.
That's Wild Ass Guess for those of you needing some unabbreviation help. This two deep is largely unchanged from the one posted right after the season's end. The major differences lie in the offensive line, which has been shuffling people all over the place due to injury, and fullback, which has the notable omission of Ryan Allison, who is unlikely to play this year with a nerve condition. At least, it's probably Allison... Carr referred to someone sitting out for an extended period of time, and all signs point to Allison as the unfortunate player.
1. Chad Henne (So.)
2. Matt Gutierrez (R. Jr.)
3. Clayton Richard (R. So.)
4. Jason Forcier (Fr)
No surprises here. Forcier will redshirt unless something catastrophic happens. Gutierrez has returned to the field but is unlikely to unseat Henne as the starter.
1. Mike Hart (So.)
2. Kevin Grady (Fr.)
3. Max Martin (So.)
4. Jerome Jackson (Jr.)
Also no surprises here. Grady has come in and impressed. He keeps getting smaller and heavier (probably about 5'8", 230). At this rate by the time he steps onto the field in September he'll have an event horizon.
1. Obi Oluigbo (R. Jr.)
2. Brian Thompson (R. Jr.)
3. Mike Massey (R. Fr.)
Allison's disappointing injury situation has thrust Oluigbo into the starting spot for the time being, but reports are that he is strictly a blocker--as was Dudley. Mike Massey has practiced some as an Aaron-Shea-esque H-back but blocking isn't a strong suit for him yet.
1. Jason Avant (Sr.)/ Steve Breaston (R. Jr.)
2. Doug Dutch (R. Fr.)/ Carl Tabb (R. Jr.)
3. Adrian Arrington (So.)/ Mario Manningham (Fr.)
4. Antonio Bass (Fr.) / LaTerryal Savoy (Fr.)
All accounts of the spring have had Dutch as one of the standout performers. Tabb over Arrington is a guess. Tabb is a burner who's made some nice plays in the past--most notably a couple of key catches against OSU in '03 when Avant got injured. He was banged up last year. If healthy I think the staff will go back to him.
1. Tim Massaquoi (R. Sr.)
2. Tyler Ecker (R. Jr.)
3. Mike Massey (R. Fr.)
4. Carson Butler (Fr.)
No movement in this position group, either. Carson Butler will definitely take a redshirt.
1. Adam Stenavich (R. Sr) / Jake Long (R. So.)
2. Mike Kolodziej (R. Jr)/ Jeremy Cuilla (R. So.)
Cuilla is a real shot in the dark here. Kolodziej is obviously the primary backup at both tackle spots, having started the '04 season at RT and having played LT in the Rose Bowl. But past him there isn't really anyone else on the roster who looks like a backup tackle, given that there's no chance in hell any of the three freshmen coming in play this year. If two tackles should go down to injury Ruben Riley will probably end up shuffled out to tackle and one of the interior line backups will draw into the middle.
1. Leo Henige (R. Sr.)/ Ruben Riley (R. Jr) / Matt Lentz (R. Sr)
2. Alex Mitchell (R. Fr) / Adam Kraus (R. So.) / Brett Gallimore (R. Fr.)
Major guesswork here as well. Henige hasn't gotten through a season yet without his knees giving out and so must be regarded as a question mark. Lentz will start at RG. Riley will start at LG or C. Kraus was believed to have the inside track to the center job but an injury has halted his progress. Mitchell was singled out for praise by Carr.
All in all, things look settled almost everywhere on offense. FB needs to be addressed and the interior of the line still needs sorting out. Other than that, Michigan looks loaded. One spot that looks thin is RT. Long is a great player, but there isn't much behind him. Kolodziej doesn't have Long's run-blocking power.
Michael Spath has an information-laden post up over at the Wolverine. To summarize:
- Three Cs next year on Montoya, Tambellini, and Ebbett. No alternates. What the sam-hell is that? I have never ever in one hundred billion years heard of such a strange captaincy arrangement on a hockey team. Further indicates that Tambellini and Montoya are returning (although Mike Van Ryn did get an A immediately before his departure).
- Pat Kane and Blake Geoffrion are "not in the fold yet" but are "potential commitments," which is phrased in an odd way that makes it seem like he's backing off a previous strong statement that Kane and Geoffrion are coming. That information must have slipped past my radar if that is indeed the implication. Getting Geoffrion is important, as most of the high end '06 forwards have been snatched up already and Michigan hasn't acquired any of them. Kane is an '07 recruit, and you know what that means. The worst player to commit that early to the Wolverines was Dwight Helminen, who was damn good. Others who have done so: Jack Johnson, Andrew Cogliano, Tristin Llewellyn. Blue-chippahs.
- Not in said post, but being batted around on USCHO is this: if Montoya returns Sauer will return to Chicago of the USHL. He and Jakiel will both enter as freshmen in '06 and stage a spirited battle for the #1 goalie spot.
- Left unstated is this: Swystun should come in with the '06 class. He has not ripped up the AJHL this year and is still extremely young. Coming right now would probably mean fourth-line duties or a redshirt year, neither of which seems appropriate for someone with Swystun's latent talent level. Will Michigan ask him to? Almost certainly not after the Bryan Lerg and Matt Nickerson defections. They may ask, but they've made room for him in this class and will take him if that's what he wants.
- Packer487 has been posting informative updates on our recruits in their playoff series. Check them out here, here, here, and here.
Let it be known far and wide that this blog shall never, ever use the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" except perhaps to mock it or people who use it.
That is all.
Do you have a pencil? Suggestion... print out this handy list of Michigan's '06 recruits:
- K'len Morris
And write in "Tory Jackson." (In pencil, mind.) At least, that's what the Wolverine would have you believe, what with the title of this($) article: "Tory Jackson: I was ready to commit." That's a strong statement, especially for the title of an article. Usually they're like "Tory Jackson: Does he still have all his limbs? FIND OUT INSIDE!"
Also, the Rivals 100 dudes think DeShawn Sims is "Michigan's to lose." So things are back to the status they were a couple weeks ago, before a day with a couple of articles that sent those who follow these things into a tizzy.
Now for the standard disclaimer: Crawford blah blah blah Hairston blah blah blah Horford blah doesn't mean anything until they sign doesn't matter until they step on the court anything can happen recruiting is a crazy game.
The summer AAU circuit is now in full swing and the gurus are watchin'. Rivals' Top 150 will be updated soon and it sounds like you can expect Sims and Jackson to rise. Sims may end up in the top 20. Michigan target Matt Shaw will probably drop like a stone. David Lighty will probably drop as well--he tore his ACL a few months ago. Herzog? Probably static.
Also: Michigan PG target Scotty Reynolds beamed up to Oklahoma. Har har har.