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World's Best/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2019

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Johnny Beecher skates like a guy much smaller

This is the way Hockey scouting works:

  • There's a flurry of it when kids are high school sophomores, because the CHL and USHL drafts grab those guys and the NTDP is chosen from that age group. There's money there, largely because of the CHL, and a cornucopia of sites have sprouted to provide teams, and the more zealous variety of fan, in-depth scouting.
  • Nobody cares much the year after unless you're so high end that you're generating first round NHL draft buzz.
  • In your draft year CSB rankings and various other NHL scouting services will provide a final burst of information.

The 2019 class is in the gap year, and doesn't have a lot of high end guys, so there's not a lot to report that hasn't been on the site in some form already. But you probably don't remember that hockey recruiting blast in a UV from six months ago, so here it is anyway.

THE POTENTIALLY DELAYED

One way that hockey recruiting is weird is that guys will somewhat frequently take another year in junior if the program they've committed to doesn't have room. I can only assume that's a somewhat standard thing to say when you take a commitment, because nobody makes a big deal about something that would be a minor scandal in other sports.

Michigan looks set to do this. I missed Michael Spath's report that Michigan was set to bring in 10 freshmen this year, with some surprises amongst the names omitted and one amongst the names included:

Summers was listed as a 2019 when he committed and is the surprise inclusion. Absences from that list: Jacob Semik, Calen Kiefiuk, Keaton Pehrson, and Nick Granowicz. Most of those surprise me in various ways, except that some guys needed to get put off. Kiefiuk's actually up to 48 points in 60 USHL games to lead his team; Granowicz is 20 and probably on light, if any, money so why not bring him in anyway; Pehrson already delayed a year. Semik's 5-4-9 line and status as an unranked draft eligible might warrant another junior year.

If those guys don't arrive this fall they will be potential 2019 recruits, or potential decommits.

As for Jack Summers—no relation to Chris—your guess is as good as mine. Here is the sum total of scouting I found:

Summers is a bit undersized and not a huge offensive threat yet, but he has incredible footwork and skating that makes him an effective defender and gives him the upside to potentially be a very dynamic player.

Michigan flipped him from Brown. He's got 11 points in 58 USHL games. One thing he's got going for him: Bill Muckalt was his coach last year, when he played a half-season with the Tri-City Storm after coming over from the NAHL. He is from Livonia and can get in-state tuition, so he might be another guy on light money.

In related news, here's an attempted Michigan hockey roster down the road.

[After the JUMP: a fair salvage job]

THE GONE

Pearson inherited little here and by the time he arrived most of the top players in this class were already committed, some for a number of years. The OHL defection of Mike Vukojevic was another blow. Michigan's recovered reasonably well.

THE OLD

The only 2019 commit Michigan had at this point last year who's stuck is Philippe Lapointe, son of Martin. Lapointe is eligible for this year's draft and checks in #201 to Central Scouting. That means he's unlikely to be drafted. His USHL stats (26 points in 59 games) aren't exactly inspiring—though there is often a shock period for players in their first year in the league. He is eligible for the upcoming draft but unranked.

Maybe he picks it up in a major way in his second year in the USHL; right now he's looking like a bottom six type.

THE NEW

Pearson's picked up one no-doubt Big Timer in this class and has added a couple of guys maybe a half-step back from that. The headliner after Vukojevic is strapping center Johnny Beecher, who made the NTDP and has performed pretty well. Beecher committed shortly after last year's edition of this post; if you need a refresher here's what I'd gathered back then:

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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. The Scout Dot CA:

…elite level skill set. A pro-style of prospect with high end tools and finishing ability. Plays a North American style of hockey featured around strong puck protection, a powerful net drive and top notch shooting ability. His biggest knock has been consistency because he's too often a passenger when he should be dominating every shift.

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He's in that gap year, with a 16-20-36 line as a part of the NTDP's U17s. That places him seventh in PPG, but after five guys who've really produced just about everyone is in a 0.65-0.55 PPG range. And either he's been unlucky on the PP or doesn't get time; he's got just one PP goal. Beecher's scoring enough and doing well enough at even strength(+21 is third amongst Fs on the U17s) to keep his stock relatively steady, especially since he's got a lot of room to grow. Dilks caught him early in the season:

John Beecher(Michigan)-Beecher is a kid that definitely has all the tools. He’s got prototypical pro size as the biggest winger on the team, and a good skill set to go along with it, but was fairly quiet in both games this weekend. It’s still their first weekend, so there may be an adjustment period. If he can start to play to his potential, he’s got a really high ceiling.

Beecher was the subject of a lengthy profile in his local paper a couple months ago, if you'd like some more background.

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Wendt is probably one of these guys

Michigan also picked up Dylan Wendt, who is scheduled to come in as an 18 year old. Wendt is an odd duck; he's still playing AAA with just one year before his scheduled enrollment. He's getting named to various USA teams and has scored 17 points in 12 games with his team when not playing in tournaments; he was a fifth round pick in the OHL draft and a third round pick in the USHL draft.

So while it's hard to get a grip on how he's doing this year that doesn't mean he's not a quality prospect. The Scout Dot CA's take from before last year's OHL draft, when they ranked him 29th:

An incredibly intelligent player, Wendt has shown elite level distribution skills - seeing options that others his age fail to spot. He's always in the play and manages the game better than 99% of the age group. Don't be fooled by his 29th ranking here because his skills are first round worthy and there's little separating him from his peers above. His best tools are his quick trigger release and ability to maintain control through the dirty areas. Not an overly "flashy" skilled player but gets a lot done on each and every shift.

…average sized attacker who uses sharp offensive instincts to process plays two-or-three steps ahead of the competition which allows him to exploit areas under tight timing. He operates with impressive confidence and is a player who elevates his teammates’ play through intelligent puck moving and his ability to create lanes.

USHR was less specific but said he was "consistently noticeable for the right" reasons; Jeff Cox listed him amongst potential NTDP adds:

physically mature and rugged so it’s hard to tell if he’s just dominating at this age because of that, but he’s still worthy of an invite. He has a hard shot and plays heavy on pucks. He can power his way into the scoring areas and wins a lot of battles below the dots. He has decent hands and vision.

That doesn't sound like the same guy. Wendt missed the NTDP camp and just turned 17 in January. His introductory year in the USHL will be interesting. He could get put off a year.

Nicholas Zabaneh is a former teammate of Jack Hughes who probably got pointed Michigan's way by the elder statesman of said family. The first word out of every scout's mouth when discussing Zabaneh is skating:

Also: "kid can fly"; "may be the best skater in the [2017 OHL] draft"; "quick acceleration and high end gear." Zabaneh hasn't put his game together outside of that to be a killer just yet. He's at about 0.8 PPG in the OJHL this year; that league has a lot of overagers in it but isn't a hotbed for NHL prospects. He went in the fifth round of both the OHL and USHL drafts, which isn't actually that bad since neither league knew he'd report, and he in fact reported to neither. The Scout Dot Ca:

Speedster forward with excellent dynamic skating ability, Zabaneh is an enjoyable player to watch - looking like a first rounder based solely on his skating. He's able to create space for teammates as he pushes defenders onto their heels off the rush but he is often moving faster than he can process the play. Skilled hands off the rush, Zabaneh would add another layer to his attack if he could learn when to slow the game down and spot a trailing forward after gaining the zone.

Aside from the flurry of scouting prompted by his OHL/USHL selections, the internet is silent on Zabaneh.

The last forward currently we haven't already addressed as a now-delayed 2018 is Cassidy Bowes:

Bowes has 33 points in 49 BCHL games and is 19; he's probably headed for the bottom six.

There's only one D in the class we haven't talked about already. He is another Tech flip, defenseman Jake Harrison. Harrison was a third round WHL draft pick who's logged a ton of time in the BCHL; he's played in 164 games, scoring at a 0.5 PPG clip, and will complete a full four seasons in the league by the time he arrives in Ann Arbor. He's another 5'9"-5'10" puck mover. I couldn't find any scouting on him.

Michigan has apparently pushed Semik and Pehrson back to this class, and if there isn't another wave of commits that should be fine. Cecconi and Boka will run out of eligibility, Hughes is likely to be a two-and-out, and Luke Martin will be a second round pick his NHL team may not want to see reach free agency.

UPSHOT

If Kiefiuk progresses to a PPG guy next year Michigan will have a solid incoming F class between him, Beecher, Wendt, and Zabaneh. There won't be any first round picks in that group, but it's a solid recovery from a class that was close to empty when Pearson arrived.

The D group looks like bottom pairing types as Michigan wasn't able to add any touted gents.



This post first appeared on Mgoblog, please read the originial post: here

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World's Best/Only Hockey Recruiting Overview: 2019

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