Hockey: Montoya Watch On In Earnest
Well, the NHL is back, for really officially this time, and thus the articles on Montoya are coming. The NY Daily News is the first out of the gate with an article on Montoya and fellow first-rounder Hugh Jessiman:
Montoya is similarly confident in his ability to play in the NHL. In fact, coming off a heady 2003-04 that included leading the United States to the World Junior championship, Montoya conceded he found himself getting bored to the point of distraction with the college game.
He attributes part of that to not preparing adequately last summer in the aftermath of his drafting by the Rangers. Promising he'll be ready and focused no matter where he plays this season, Montoya understands there are persuasive reasons to turn pro now. One is the chance to work closely with accomplished Rangers goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. Another is the desire to get in the battle before budding Swedish star Henrik Lundqvist gets the inside track in the race to become Mike Richter's successor as the Rangers' franchise goalie.
"I know I'm ready for this level - I know that," Montoya said. "But the thing is: Is another year of college going to hurt me? I don't think so."
Michigan College Hockey thinks the last sentence bodes well, but color me unconvinced. Teams can start negotiating with unsigned draft picks this weekend. Hopefully Montoya makes a decision soon, no matter what it is. And if it's college, then, uh, Monty, try to PAY ATTENTION.
The other major departure risk is forward and captain Jeff Tambellini, who was somewhere between great and spectacular last year. INCH declares him to be one of the major flight risks in an article that is long on speculation and short on hard information. The general feeling among those close to the program is that Tambellini leaving would be a major surprise (especially if he keeps getting sweet suites at Pistons playoff games). Michigan hockey is used to 'major surprises' in the horrible, horrible offseason, though.
Also, Michigan recruits Steve Kampfer and Billy Sauer were named to the US U18 Select team. The team will play in the U18 World Cup in Slovakia and the Czech Republic in mid-August. 2007 recruit Tristin Llewellyn was named to the U17 team.