Saturday, September 19, 2009

09/10 Men's Previews: #19 Jake Gardiner


Vitals:

Position: Defenseman
Year in School: Sophomore
Shoots Left
Height: 6-2
Weight: 184
Hometown: Minnetonka, MN
Major: Business
Previous Team: Minnetonka (MN HS) in 07/08

NHL Considerations: 1st round pick of Anaheim (17th overall) in the 2008 draft.

08/09 Stats: 39 games, 3-18-21, +4, 16 PIM
07/08 Stats: 25 games, 20-28-48

09/10 Role: 2nd Pairing, PP & PK

08/09 Recap: Jake burst on to the scene in the Cardinal and White and never looked back. He had a few issues on defense at times, but overall he looked more like a returning player instead of a freshman. He made an impact on offense early in the season and saw that role expand when Brendan Smith went down w/ injury and he stepped up to the top pairing w/ Jamie McBain and they barely missed a beat. I was worried he'd struggle on defense like Smith did as a freshman, but he blew me away at times at how quickly he transitioned from HS to the WCHA. For his outstanding freshman season, he was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team.

Biggest Strength: He is the best skater on the ice regardless of position. Sometimes the wind stops to applaud he is moving so fast, yet it looks effortless. His offensive skills from all those years at forward don’t hurt either.

Biggest Weakness: Still a little rough around the edges on defense, but for a kid who played forward 3 seasons ago, he is improving by leaps and bounds.

09/10 Thoughts: Jake should be given every opportunity to step up and contribute in all situations this season as a sophomore. It will be interesting to see how he progressed over the summer, defenseman has a bigger learning curve at the NCAA level, and other blue liners on the roster were noticeably improved their sophomore years. McBain really took off, while Cody Goloubef and Ryan McDonagh really asserted themselves on the Badger blue line. If Jake follows this progression, he could be in for a stellar year. He’ll likely miss a few games at mid-season as he should be part of Team USA at the WJC’s along w/ Derek Stepan.

Prediction: 33 games, 5-25-30*
*All predictions for regular season only

Photo from uwbadgers.com