RAM JAM! RAM JAM! also more video at Yost Built.
[Ed-M: A scoring forward? This is a mechayeh!]
I don't usually do full-blown "this guy just committed" posts for hockey players because the way hockey works right now they're either committing for way down the road and may not actually show up or are not that exciting. Either way there's a paucity of information.
This one's a little different, though, because Princeton decommit and badly-needed top-six forward Zach Hyman chose Michigan yesterday. Then his brother Spencer ju, a 2012 defenseman, committed today. Zach will be on campus this fall propping up Michigan's wonky offense.
While that might be a bit much to ask from a freshman, Hyman's not your ordinary freshman. A 6'2" forward, he was drafted in the fifth round by the Panthers last year and then proceeded to trash his league to the tune of 42-60-102 in 43 games. Like Mike Comrie and Mike Cammalleri before him, he subsequently won the CJHL player of the year award. Yost Built looked at the last decade of CJHL POYs, finding that seven of the ten put up 30 points as a freshman. (Okay, one did it at Sacred Heart.) One of the three to miss was eventual Hobey winner Junior Lessard; the other two both had 30+ point seasons as juniors before collapsing as seniors. If the award isn't necessarily a guarantee combined with getting drafted it seems to be a pretty good indicator. That goes double when the main competition for Hyman was UMD, BU, and BC. (If UMD seems like an odd suitor for a player committed to Princeton and looking at BU/M/BC, he probably considered them because he likes dyeing his hair a ridiculous blond from time to time, too.)
Hyman's decision to play in the OJHL may have depressed his draft stock:
when I go back in my records, it would seem that from Peewee hockey all the way up to Minor Midget, Hyman was right on par with Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Tyler Toffoli and just a notch behind John McFarland.
However, when I look at our rankings for this year’s NHL Draft, everyone but Hyman is slotted as a first-round choice. Hyman is listed as a third or fourth-round selection.
…to have a kid who was right there with Seguin, Skinner and Toffoli 20 months ago and now is separated by at least 200-plus spots seems a little outrageous. The only other rationale is that we, as scouts, consciously or sub-consciously hold a bias against a kid who pursues his dream of a degree from a U.S. college and for my money, that doesn’t seem right. This kid is the youngest captain in the league and put up 75 points as a sophomore and has coaches and teammates raving about his character and commitment but none of that seems to matter because he is playing at a lower level.
(No prizes for guessing the first comment is a caveman complaining about the lack of fighting in college.) Michigan fans more than anyone else believe a prospect can fade over the course of two years. Luke Moffatt and Tristin Llewellyn were supposed to be five-star type guys when they committed, for example. But in those cases the two weren't performing against USHL competition; Moffatt in particular was directly compared against the top forwards in his age group every night because they were his teammates.
Hyman's annihilated not very good competition and remains a question mark. These biased people think he's great:
“Zach would be the best Christmas present a lot of high-end Division 1 programs could ever get in May,” said Scott Luce, the Panthers’ director of scouting. “He’s in hot demand.” …
Said Anthony Miele, [ed: not Miami star Andy's dad, FWIW] the vice president of Hamilton’s rival Burlington Cougars: “Zach Hyman is one of the best goal scorers this league has ever seen.”
Added Marty Savoy, commissioner of the Ontario Junior Hockey League: “He’s one of those kids who keeps getting better every time you watch him play ... He carries himself like a pro.”
And so does this guy who's either unbiased or biased against him:
I recently took in a workout and this kid has devoted a lot of time in the gym to compete against the men of the Ivy League, but along with being an impressive physical specimen, he showed that he could really play this year as well by putting up 75 points on a decent Tier 2 team while showing he understands the game as well as any in the draft. His dad owns my chief competitor, ISS, so it pains me to say, but this kid may become the steal of the draft. Last year Riley Smith put up 75 points on a powerful St. Michaels Buzzer team and was a third-round pick of the Dallas Stars, and for our money, Smith isn’t even close to this kid in terms of upside.
Also the Sports Rabbi calls him a "true mensch," which I swear is not something I just made up.
Hyman's brother, Spencer, is a 6-foot defenseman who will come in next year. Apparently he decked Lucas Lessio with a single punch at some point and is nicknamed "the bus." With a 4-16-20 line in 49 games, he's not an offensive defenseman. That's about all there is on him; the most notable thing from the Yost Built post is that Tim didn't know "berserker" was a word. No fantasy RPGs for that guy.
Given the below BONUS it's possible Spencer is going to be a preferred walk-on. That's total speculation.
BONUS FOR MEMBERS OF THE TEAM: Zach Hyman's dad has a couple nickels to rub together. Once I went to a Pistons playoff game back when they went to the playoffs, got into the elevator with my crutch-bearing friend, and was joined by a bunch of fit, averaged sized-college dudes headed for a suite. I eventually realized they were Jeff Tambellini and a few other current players. (Bizarrely, the first guy I recognized was then career-backup Noah Ruden.) So that'll probably happen.
BONUS FOR HYMAN'S MOM: Zach was named the most gentlemanly player in the OJHL.
2014? Yeah, that's what Michael Spath is saying at the Wolverine: Allen and Alex Talcott are supposed to be 2014 commits right now. Dollars to donuts Allen will end up a 2013 recruit. I can't remember the last NTDP player with NHL prospects to do a post-grad year.