Brian talked a little bit in Monday's Unverified Voracity about the Michigan hockey team's recruiting class. I've seen most of those kids at least a couple of times, so I figured this would be a good chance for my first ever diary entry, before moving on to future diary entries about my hopes and dreams(tentatively titled, 'Minnesota Drops Athletic Department').
Anyway, for the 2009 class:
A.J. Treais: I would definitely compare Treais to T.J. Hensick in terms of playing style, but not in terms of talent. I could see Treais getting off to a slow start next season, but eventually becoming a nice playmaker for Michigan.
Chris Brown: The comparison to Eric Nystrom is pretty much spot on. Neither is going to score a lot of points unless they get paired up with a superstar, but both play very hard and are solid responsible players. The big difference is that Brown skates better than Nystrom did, and is a little more physical. I'd expect him to get picked somewhere in the second round of the NHL Draft this summer.
Kevin Lynch: He's really tough to get a read on because he plays a really unorthodox style of hockey, and as a result, you'll get a lot of different opinions on his play. Personally, I think he goes a little lower in the draft than most people expect--somewhere in the last couple rounds-- but should have a decent career at Michigan as second or third line-type guy.
I haven't seen Lee Moffie play, but all indications are that he's a pretty solid player. It looks like he's having a really nice year in the USHL, which bodes well for his future. I'd imagine Michigan will look to add another forward or two for next year as well. If you consider that Palushaj is almost guaranteed to leave and that Ciraulo and Glendenning are walk-ons, that leaves Michigan with only 10 scholarship forwards on deck for next year.
The 2010 guys...
Brian is right that at least paper, this looks like a great class of kids. I think it's a stretch, however, to say three kids will go in the top 10 of the draft. Individually...
Jon Merrill: Merrill is the most likely to go in the top 10 of the draft. I haven't seen him play in a while, but he certainly has all the tools to be a big time player.
Luke Moffatt: I go back and forth on Moffatt all the time. I think his style of play is more suited for faster, tighter checking games like the NCAA and pro level. He's not much of a dangler, which makes him look unimpressive against less-polished competition, but he's very strong on the puck and can make quick decisions, which will serve him well later on. He's not off to a great start this year with the NTDP, but a lot of great players struggled until about Christmastime in their first year at the NTDP, and then really took off. It's tough to tell where he'll end up in the 2010 draft. It could be really high or really low. He'd be the biggest concern about never making it to Michigan. I'd say the chances of him wearing a Michigan jersey are about 50/50.
Kevin Clare: He's just a rock on defense. I'm not sure that he has the superstar potential the same way Merrill does, but he should be a very strong player. I could see him going late in the first round of the draft two years from now.
As a side note, every year, the NTDP likes to call up a couple guys from the U17 team to play for the U18 team at the end of the year, and these three guys would all be among the top candidates.
Jack Campbell: He's incredibly talented. A lot can change for goalies between the ages of 16 and 20, so nothing is a guarantee, but he certainly looks like a gem. I have no clue where he rates for the 2010 draft, since it's still way too early to evaluate goalies much.
Mac Bennett: He's kind of flying under the radar right now, but I think fans will really like him. He should be a pretty high draft pick this summer, and could step in and play for Michigan next year if he were done with high school. He's one of the most poised defenseman I've ever seen and is a great skater.
Jacob Fallon: He's another kid that is flying under the radar, but could end up being one of the most valuable players in this class. He's an excellent passer, and the NTDP has really tried to put him in the playmaker role this year. I think he has the tools to become a more all-around scorer though. He lacks prototypical pro size which means he'll probably get drafted fairly late, and should keep him at Michigan for a number of years.
It's nice to see Michigan really loading up on players born in 1992 for the 2010 class, because the group of kids for the 2011 recruiting class is looking fairly weak, and there might not be as many options.