Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Looking forward V1.0

I was glancing at LetsgoDU today and saw that the local beat writer who covers the Pioneers, Mike Chambers, is projecting greatness for DU next season. Even though its not Badgers news its worth a read, if they don’t have any more early departures beyond Tyler Bozak, they should be very good.

Another team that should be very good next season is the Wisconsin Badgers. Its never too early too look ahead is it? If I had to prognosticate the 2009/10 WCHA standings today, I would put DU first, and the Badgers second. DU gets the edge because they have a proven WCHA goalie coming back.

If Wisconsin doesn’t lose anyone else to early departure, the team should be stacked. Derek Stepan should immerge as the go to scorer the team needs, and will be complimented by the best blue line in the NCAA and a group of veteran forwards who can put the puck in the net w/ enough regularity for the team to surpass this past season’s scoring totals. Five senior forwards (Street, Geoffrion, Mitchell, Davies & Bohmbach) scored 10 or more goals in their last full season of play. Sure McBain is gone on the blue line, but that just opens up opportunities for some other gifted young men to show off their PP QB abilities. Another All-American, or two, is likely lurking among that talented group.

Below are some rough line combos I just threw together today for fun. Feel free to leave a comment, never too early to start next season’s discussion.

Andy Bohmbach – Blake Goeffrion – Michael Davies
John Mitchell – Ben Street – Derek Lee
Jordy Murray – Derek Stepan – Craig Smith
Ben Grotting – Matt Thurber – Aaron Bendickson

Reserves: Patrick Johnson, Sean Dolan, Podge Turnbull, Chris Hickey, Tyler Barnes & Keegan Meuer, (maybe even Mark Zengerle)

Johnson & Dolan could easily replace someone in the lineup, though Grotting & Bendickson were playing so well at the end of last season, if they bring that again next season they'll be tough to bump out of the lineup. The Badgers can roll four solid lines each night again next season. Playing time will be tough to come by, and I hope this breeds some great competition and not a transfer or what not. In 2010, everyone left will get boat loads of PT. Wisconsin should dominate in faceoffs w/ that group of centers down the middle. Smith and Lee should be locks to play every night, they both ripped up juniors this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Meuer or Barnes redshirt, assuming they are both still coming in.

The blue line is a little easier.

Ryan McDonagh – Cody Goloubef
Jake Gardiner – Justin Schultz
Brendan Smith – Craig Johnson
Reserves: Ryan Little, Eric Springer and John Ramage

Still not sure how that is going to work w/ nine defensemen currently slated to come in. I guess we’ll know sometime this summer. Johnson was pretty strong toward the end of last season, and might be tough to beat out of 6th spot on the blue line. If John Ramage does come in, I could see him getting significant playing time, and hopefully crushing opponents on a regular basis.

I'm sure we'll revisit this as the off season goes on.