World's Best/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2020 Part 2 And The Braces Brigade

World's Best/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2020 Part 2 And The Braces Brigade

Submitted by Brian on May 17th, 2018 at 12:40 PM

Previously: 2018 and 2019, and the first bit of 2020.

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[Michael Capels/MIHockey]

The previous post covered the five forwards currently in the 2020 class and highly touted D Owen Power; in addition to those gents Michigan also has four other defensemen currently committed. The most highly touted is NTDP selection Jacob Truscott, who is very much in the mold of the Mel Pearson defenseman:

Jacob Truscott (Little Caesars 15U) – “Highly skilled, puck-moving defenseman. Very good skater with a smooth, effortless stride. Retrieves the puck well and has end to end rushing abilities. Does a very good job of keeping his feet moving and his head up in order to make plays. Sees the ice well and makes good outlets.”

A take from just before the NTDP selection camp:    

Truscott has long been hyped as one of the more athletically gifted defensemen in this age group. He makes strong lead passes in transit and can jump into plays offensively.

And the OHL’s scouting report from a couple months ago:

He is a good puck moving defenceman that has the ability to join or lead the offensive rush and then because of how well he skates he can easily recover and get back and play his position. He has a very nice, long stride that looks effortless. His mobility is good and that makes it hard to beat him off the rush. He sees the ice well and makes the simple play the majority of the time which is very effective.

Truscott also went to London, but in flier territory (8th round) and has committed to the NTDP. He doesn’t seem like much of a flight risk:

Port Huron Northern freshman Jacob Truscott didn’t really know how to react when the University of Michigan hockey coaching staff offered him a scholarship. Being a lifelong Wolverines fan, the offer seemed too good to be true.

“I had a loss for words – I was speechless,” Jacob recalled. “I didn’t see it coming.”

After a brief talk with family members that were equally as shocked and honored as he was, Jacob made the commitment to play hockey for U-M.

“We were just speechless and tearing up,” Jacob’s mom, Lori, recalled from last weekend’s visit. “Big brother Kyle and I were probably the most struck by it all emotionally. It’s just an amazing opportunity.”

Expect him to arrive in a couple years.

[After THE JUMP: smallish, skilled defensemen. Everywhere.]

The OHL Draft Was Apparently Relevant Enough To Warrant A Post

The OHL Draft Was Apparently Relevant Enough To Warrant A Post

Submitted by Brian on April 9th, 2018 at 12:23 PM

This was a UV bullet and now it's 900 words, so now it's a post.

Yes, folks, the OHL draft has come and gone, and since Michigan is provisionally recruiting like gangbusters in the 2020 hockey class it once again becomes an event with great import for M hockey fans. Michigan commits:

S_Z_SilverStick_prospects_Perfetti_02_348c6___Super_Portrait

Perfetti (right) barely fell

Cole Perfetti: 1st round, #5, Saginaw. Perfetti barely fell, which is usually real bad news. In this case there is a glimmer of hope because Saginaw has close to a complete roster for the year and OHL teams get compensatory picks if their first rounder is "defective," the OHL's charming term for a player who doesn't report. Rolling the dice on Perfetti doesn't cost them much; if he doesn't report they get the sixth overall pick in next year's draft, when they need it more. For now the Saginaw GM is playing coy and pretending the USHL doesn't exist:

"He has committed to Michigan, and there is a recruiting process for us. But when you talk about elite skill like this, the risk is worth the reward. And personally, I think he's too good to wait two years to play at this level."

OHL teams can trade defective picks and keep that compensatory pick, so we'll know if this was a flier or a plan in September. If Perfetti's immediately traded for a bushel of picks to another OHL outfit he's gone. This is the most likely outcome.

FWIW, Saginaw took former M commit Blade Jenkins and got him after one NTDP year. That might have been more desperation than anything else as Jenkins struggled immensely in the USHL, scoring 5 points in 34 games, and just 8 in 56 overall. He's up to 44 in 68 in an OHL he's found more tractable and is once again draftable.

Antonio Stranges: 2nd round, #21, London. Ugh. London has the resources to acquire players not otherwise headed for the OHL. Stranges is talented enough and London has enough players for this to be a flier. Stranges did tweet out something after he got picked—and then deleted that, hopefully once a strong Michigan advocate in his inner circle cocked an eyebrow at him.

Stranges has been invited to the NTDP, which usually announces its new U17 team in late April, so it won't take long to know which way he's going. FWIW, plugged in persons still think NTDP:

It is unusual for an NTDP kid to not follow through on a college commitment, because there's no wait to get into the tougher league and "hockey plus college" is better than "hockey and college later if you don't play 18 months pro."

Owen Power: 2nd round, #22, Flint. On the other hand, Flint is a league-owned mediocrity with little appeal. Power is safe unless and until he gets traded. There are no compensatory picks outside of the first round, so there's no timeline. Power was likely to be a top 5 pick until he committed, so his drop indicates that the OHL took it at least somewhat seriously.

Jacob Truscott: 5th round, London. London again but deep enough in the draft that it's a flier for a guy with Truscott's quality. He's also an NTDP invite.

Mitchell Smith, 5th round, Saginaw. This would be shrug territory except for the article that the local paper put out when Smith committed to Michigan:

"One thing you learn about hockey is that it has a huge network. You have to choose the right people to believe, the right people to trust. To have people like Brendan and Brian [Kischnick] giving advice is invaluable."

And if that means ultimately choosing to play college hockey, Michigan is not a bad destination.

"Michigan presented us with a good situation … basically he would have a chance to play right away," Tim Smith said. "And a Michigan education is pretty nice too."

The Kischnicks mentioned are father and son, the younger is Smith's D-partner. Kischnick committed to the OHL route after being picked in the sixth round and sent back to AAA this year. If that's the advice the Smiths are listening to, he gone. Also Smith is from Saginaw.

Cole McWard: 11th round, Kitchener. Patrick Guzzo: 13th round, Oshawa. Flier territory. Kitchener used to be a London level threat but has dropped off the radar recently.

Andrei Bakanov: N/A. Bakanov was widely expected to be a top ten pick but was not eligible for some reason or another despite having played his most recent two years of junior in OHL territory. The reason is probably "didn't bother to apply":

He's likely be a USHL tender.

UPSHOT

Michigan's likely to lose Perfetti and Smith; what's left over is still Michigan's best class in forever as long as Stranges sticks.

Unverified Voracity Talks Batnipple

Unverified Voracity Talks Batnipple

Submitted by Brian on July 25th, 2017 at 4:06 PM

Nov 21, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Marcell Harris (26) reacts against the Florida Atlantic Owls during the second quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Exit these guys. Florida took a couple of hits in the secondary, one more important than the other. The important gent is returning starter Marcell Harris, who will miss the 2017 season with a torn ACL. That knocks Florida down to 3 returning starters on D—sounds familiar—and robs them of their best safety. Florida has talented guys waiting to step up but they're green:

Sophomore Jeawon Taylor and freshman Quincy Lenton, who were injured this spring, could be options to step in for Harris, but new defensive coordinator Randy Shannon could get creative with his roster.

Starter Duke Dawson is slated to be the next big thing at cornerback, but he has played safety and nickel during the first three years of his Gators career. Like Harris, he's a veteran leader who understands the position and has proven versatility that could prove valuable considering the circumstances.

In that same light, sophomore Chauncey Gardner was solid last year. He played in all 13 games, starting three at safety with 36 tackles and three interceptions -- one of which was returned for a touchdown. He's slated to start along side Dawson at corner but is certainly an option to move around if Shannon chooses.

The other hit is Chris Williamson, a second-year 3.5* cornerback. He's transferring. That removes an option in the UF secondary.

Another recruiting hire. A second former member of the SS Rodriguez jumps aboard:

Rick Neuheisel, proto-Harbaugh. This is terrific story from Rick Neuheisel in an excellent Jon Solomon article on coach paranoia in the aftermath of Wakeyleaks:

One year at the Pac-12 coaches’ meetings, Neuheisel wanted to increase the conference’s travel-squad numbers (60 players per team) closer to the Big Ten and SEC limits (70 players).

But Neuheisel knew he was toxic, especially in a room with so many big egos, such as Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh and USC’s Carroll. So Neuheisel had then-

Oregon State coach Mike Riley pitch the idea.

“Mike is the nicest guy in the world, so he pitched it to the ADs and we got 70,” Neuheisel says. “Had Rick Neuheisel pitched it, we’d still be at 60. No one looked at Mike Riley and ever thought there was a hidden ball trick going on.”

Harbaugh now faces this same paranoia at Michigan. He maneuvers through the NCAA rule book, such as taking the Wolverines to spring practice in Florida and Italy and holding summer satellite camps around the country to look for players.

“He’ll never get any legislation passed he wants,” Neuheisel said. “But if you go get Mike Riley from Nebraska, you’ve got a hell of a chance to get it done.

Keep an eye out for any Mike Riley pronouncements about the correct milk to drink.

Hockey commits. A couple of significant hockey commits in the past week. 2019 F Jack Beecher committed to Michigan over BU, BC, and OHL interest, and hoo boy this guy has some potential:

Other takes from hockey scouting twitter include "elite skater who drives play … lethal shot," "size, soft hands, and rocket shot" and "dominant tools." He's a 6'4" guy who has plenty of room to fill out and plenty of skill when he does. SBN's Jeff Cox:

Johnny Beecher, Elmira, NY, Salisbury School, Left Shot, 6’4”/210 - He’s a big time pro prospect with good size. He has decent to above average hands for a player his size. His stride and ability to protect the puck are both assets. He has that reach that you just can’t teach. He can put a puck out there, pull it back and rip a wrist shot on net. He drives the net and does a good job using his size down low and along the boards. He’s got that extra gear to win a battle along the wall and just separate himself from the defender to get to the slot and get a hard shot on net.

In January Hockey Prospect Dot Com ranked him 3rd in their OHL draft rankings; he fell to 85th because of his NTDP commitment.

Beecher is the first truly big-time recruiting win for Mel Pearson; he'll spend the next two years with the NTDP before arriving in Ann Arbor. Michigan no doubt hopes to latch on to fellow 2019 NTDPer Jack Hughes, a potential top 5 NHL draft pick and brother of incoming freshman Quinn.

The other commit is D Cole McWard, who Chris Heisenberg lists as a 2020. Less out there on him, but here's this tweet:

He's about 6-foot now and will grow.

The worst Freeze since the guy in the batnipple movie. I'm enjoying Dan Wolken unloading both barrels on Hugh Freeze, as it's something it seems like he's been waiting years to do. Now it can be told:

Whatever Freeze was doing to make enemies across the Southeast, it was often hard to distinguish what rival coaches saw as the greater transgression — the program’s loose relationship with the NCAA rulebook or his in-your-face piety.

Coaches who recruited against Freeze didn’t merely roll their eyes at him, and they certainly didn’t laugh, except when it came to the nickname a few called him behind his back: Jimmy Swag.

I could have been calling him Jimmy Swag for years if I had only known this. Alas. Wolken followed that up with another brutal missive:

There’s no reason to be coy here: Whispers about Freeze’s personal behavior have followed him since long before he became a college head coach. But at every stop along the way, it was difficult to do much with those rumors because so many people who were around him on coaching staffs and in athletic departments spoke so highly of him. His public embrace of Christianity, and the genuinely good charitable work he did, provided good cover and an easy narrative for all those glowing national newspaper profiles. Those who doubted his genuineness were written off as jealous or agenda-driven.

Sad thing about Freeze's behavior is it works. Once people believe a thing it takes an unbelievable amount of evidence to change their mind, and usually even that doesn't work.

Meanwhile Mark Schablach has a bonkers story on the sibling knife fight that is the Ole Miss-Mississippi State rivalry:

Robertson had been butting heads with Ole Miss officials for the past several months, since they denied his open records request for an unredacted version of the notice of allegations the Rebels received from the NCAA in January 2016. Robertson wanted the names of the Ole Miss boosters who are accused of providing improper benefits to recruits, and university officials wouldn't release them.

When Mars advised Tyner about the call Freeze made to the escort service, he told him that he'd shared the phone records with Robertson.

"Steve is obsessed," Mars said Tyner told him.

"Had anybody in this state done their job, I wouldn't have had to do it," Robertson said. "It got to the point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of it. I was willing to pass the baton to someone, but no one was willing to take it."

Robertson filed a complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission, which ruled in his favor earlier this month.

This random fan has been FOIAing Ole Miss for months so he can write a book named "Flim Flam," which is being published out of state. This is a hatred to respect.

Etc.: Michigan-Rutgers features in the Blowout Matrix. Entertainingly goofy early signing complaints from the expected corners. SUH THE DESTROYER.