Let's Have A Hockey Autopsy

Let's Have A Hockey Autopsy Comment Count

Brian March 13th, 2019 at 4:23 PM

Hockey's season went out with a whimper as they were swept at the hands of Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. That's disappointing but not particularly surprising for anyone who watched most of Michigan's season.

What went wrong? Michigan's various problems follow.

Age

Michigan was one of the youngest teams in the country, and the bottom of the age standings are pretty ugly:

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ND and Denver are in the top 16 of the pairwise. Otherwise this is a list of the teams that generally recruit the best across college hockey and are struggling in the new over-30 NCAA. Not one of Minnesota, Michigan, BC, BU, or Wisconsin is in position for an at-large bid. It should be noted that 50-52 are Quinnipiac, Providence, and Harvard, who are all set for at-large bids, but even those teams in close proximity by rank are almost a half-year older than Michigan and the rest of the "we recruit the NTDP" class.

Under Pearson they've moved to taking more overagers, but those guys are all underclassmen. Michigan is in the process of having some 23 and 24 year olds; they are not there yet. At some point Michigan's going to be a mix of older players and high-level NHL prospects. Currently they are young and had 1.5 high-level prospects. Speaking of:

Talent level

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Norris was M's only PPG scorer and missed half the year [Bill Rapai]

As discussed in the previous post about Michigan's gap year, this year's freshman class had zero drafted players for the first time in probably 20 years. Michigan found a good fourth line as Moyle and Van Whye emerged midseason; that line then became their de facto second line because nobody else was doing anything. Compounding matters was the previous class, which was Hughes and Norris (woot woot!) plus Mike Pastujov, whose star fell precipitously after his commitment, and then whatever Mel could scrape up. That turned out to be Becker and Raabe, two guys who have chipped in but aren't scoring line players at this point in their career.

So when Norris goes out midseason, they have zero underclassman forwards capable of playing on a scoring line. This is untenable for a program that is constantly getting raided by the NHL—you aren't getting Cooper Marody back for a senior year.

Michigan did have some guys: Lockwood put up 31 points in 36 games; Slaker and Pastujov put up 25 and 24. It's not a coincidence that two of the three top scorers were older draftees. There just weren't enough of them. Michigan has always been more talented than all of its opponents, which is how they make up the perpetual age gap. This year they weren't. Opposing goaltenders put up a .914; Michigan was 41st in shooting percentage. Even more telling: Michigan's power play conversion rate nearly halved from 19% (average-ish) to 10% (national worst) when Norris went out.

[After THE JUMP: woe! fie and woe!]

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Extra Point: Where Does Hockey Go From Here?

Extra Point: Where Does Hockey Go From Here? Comment Count

Adam Schnepp February 14th, 2019 at 11:59 AM

Tuesday’s loss to Notre Dame wasn’t the final nail in the coffin for Michigan’s tournament chances, but things aren’t super great when a college hockey site’s models have to be consulted to make sure the pre-comma clause isn’t mathematically impossible. Conference tournament games are treated like regular season games as far as Pairwise is concerned, and while that leaves a little room for Michigan to bolster its resume, we can get an idea how much that will matter (read: do they need to win the tournament outright) thanks to the excellent charts at College Hockey Ranked. Michigan has four remaining regular-season contests, and the most likely outcome (28.0%) derived from four straight wins is the #19 Pairwise spot. The top 16 teams get into the tournament; Michigan has a 3.6% chance of finishing the regular season #16, 0.7% chance of finishing #15, and 0.1% chance of finishing #14. In other words, it’s exceeding unlikely they’ll play their way into a position to be heartbroken by some other team that’s out of it winning their conference tournament and stealing a bid (and even that assumes Michigan wins some but not all of their conference tournament games.)

With just six points separating the teams in second (Michigan) and sixth (Michigan State) place in the conference standings and four conference games left to play, projecting Michigan’s Big Ten Tournament opponent is an exercise in futility. We do have four games from earlier this season that could help us in analyzing how Michigan might be able to go about sweeping Ohio State and Wisconsin, their next two opponents, so we’ll turn to those for insight. Sweeping two opponents consecutively will be a big task for a team that went over three months between sweeps, but we can look at a few smaller components of quality play that make it possible. It’s not entirely unlike when my ten-month-old is in his high chair and flings himself forward to grab something I definitely didn’t think he could reach on the table and I’m like, hey, that would have been fine if I ripped it into pieces but as it stands you shoving it into your mouth whole just makes me look like a shitty dad. I mean, it’s not entirely like that but it’s not entirely unlike that, either.

[Hit THE JUMP for GIFs and such]

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Extra Point: Hockey At The Break, Part 4

Extra Point: Hockey At The Break, Part 4 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 28th, 2018 at 9:58 AM

Earlier this season I was sitting in the hockey offices at Yost waiting to do an interview with a player when I heard Mel Pearson's voice from around the corner. He was sitting down with the excellent beat writers from The Michigan Daily, and the one question I could hear was about goaltending.

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World's Best/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2018

World's Best/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2018 Comment Count

Brian April 20th, 2018 at 6:15 PM

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D Bode Wilde is the headliner

THE SPOTS

There's no way around the fact that Michigan has too many guys coming in to fit on one hockey roster. I'm not sure if this is in fact oversigning since hockey is not a headcount sport so you can split scholarships. Some incoming commits might be on half or a quarter scholarship; a few are probably pure walk-ons. And it's common to offer guys a "yes, but" in which they might come in in year X or might have to take another year in junior, depending on what ravages your roster sustains.

So: Michigan has six seniors who will definitely exit. Four are forwards; two are defensemen. Two of those forwards (Porikos and Roos) are probably not getting much, if any scholarship money, FWIW. They open up a roster slot but not a scholarship one. Cooper Marody has also left for the NHL.

Nick Boka, Joe Cecconi, and Brendan Warren are all draftees entering their final year of eligibility. NHL teams often try to sign those players since a player who stays four years at college can become a free agent. Warren probably hasn't done enough to warrant a contract; Boka is iffy; Cecconi probably has.

Michigan also has a few underclass departure threats: Luke Martin and Will Lockwood were second round picks and Quinn Hughes is about to go top ten—possibly top five. Lockwood got hurt the second half of the year and Hughes seems unlikely to bolt immediately, if only because he's a wee gent who could use a second year in Ann Arbor before attempting to crack an NHL roster. Martin is tough to tell since he's not much of an offensive threat.

Michigan needs somewhere between seven and ten guys unless this year's Michigan Hockey Summer is especially severe.

THE GONE

Since the last time we looked at the 2018 class, Michigan lost Mattias Samuelsson to WMU, Alec Regula to the OHL, and Gustaf Westlund to Ohio State. They plugged in probable top 15 draft pick Bode Wilde at D so the D losses won't hurt Michigan much. Westlund is a '97 with 34 points in 54 USHL games and is probably not a huge loss.

FWIW, I remain skeptical that Kenny Johnson is actually going to play for Michigan.

THE OLD

The three longstanding commits in the class who are still in it are all midlevel prospects; they're not sure things but they come with some reasons for optimism. None figure to have much immediate impact.

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Randl drives action

Jack Randl is in his second year with the USHL's Omaha Lancers. He's got 32 points in 49 games, which is sixth on his team. A couple caveats: he's second in goals and he's the top 2000-born player on the team; only one of the guys in front of him is even a '99. HS-age guys who are close to a PPG in the USHL project as scoring line players, at least down the road. He's a bit borderline in that department. Possibly helpful: a hockey analytics guy named Will Scouch compiles numbers for the draft and Randl leads everyone in the USHL or CHL in % of goals where he either scores or has the primary assist.

This means that he's driving most of the play when he's on the ice. USHR did like him quite a bit in a prospects game where he slotted in just behind a variety of high draft picks:

7. Jack Randl -- Michigan recruit had a goal and two assists, made plays consistently. Strong skater.

Randl got called up to the U18s to play at the Five Nations tourney in February, which is also a pretty good sign. He might go late in the NHL draft. He's ranked 158th by the CSB.

[After the JUMP: a lot more guys. Also a nine year old's absurd shootout goal.]

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