Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Over-Recruiting Not Just A Wisconsin Problem

Fair, or unfair, the Wisconsin coaching staff has taken an absolute beating over the past few years about over recruiting players to fill their classes. People look at the de-commitments of Patrick Wiercoich, Brock Montpetit, Nick Pryor and Travis Erstad and immediately cry foul without knowing the situation.

Wiercoich took an opportunity to go to college a year earlier when Carle was forced to give up hockey. Pryor could not get himself admitted to school, and Erstad decided to go home and play D-3 at his hometown school. Realistically, only Montpetit was lost because of the numbers at Wisconsin, and he found a better situation for himself with UNO.

But this isn't just a Wisconsin problem. A month ago, North Dakota lost forward Mike Fink (pictured left) due to over-recruiting. Fink committed to North Dakota from Hopkins high school as a sophomore, back in May of 2007 for either 2009 or 2010. (Edit: I guess the Grand Forks Herald reported this in Mid-January)

Fink left high school early to be ready to come to North Dakota as a seasoned USHL forward. When it came time to bring in the 2009 recruiting class, Fink was told to stay that extra year in the USHL. That's fine, he committed for either 2009 or 2010. Recently, when North Dakota was finalizing their 2010 class, they realized they have over-recruited the position and they told Fink they wanted him to stay ANOTHER year in the USHL, which would be his fourth year.

Kids simply do not stay in the USHL for four seasons. Obviously Fink told North Dakota that he was de-committing. "I committed when I was a sophomore and I was so excited but when they told me they thought I needed another year ? I don't want to wait another year," Fink said. "I turn 20 this summer and I'm just ready to start college and move on to the next chapter of my life."

The sad thing is, North Dakota has the same problem on the defensive side of things. They are currently rostering 8 defenseman with Chay Genoway being the only senior. Although it looks like Genoway will be applying for a medical redshirt to play next season and would most likely be granted the redshirt.

Add in two players that have signed letters of intent for next season, Nick Mattson who is playing in Indiana this season after two years with the NTDP, and Derek Forbort, a projected first round pick out of the NTDP, and you have 10 defensemen on your roster. Also, blue chip recruit Dillon Simpson has accelerated his studies to graduate this year and possibly come to North Dakota this season to make it a possible 11 defensemen on the roster. Something just doesn't add up, even if Simpson doesn't come to Grand Forks this season.

The problem doesn't end there in the WCHA. Minnesota has 9 forwards committed for 2010. 9 forwards! That wouldn't be an issue if they were losing a lot, but they only have 4 senior forwards and are only projected to lose Jordan Schroeder and possibly if the Devils make the right offer, Mike Hoeffel early to the pro's.

That means if Schroeder and Hoeffel stay at Minnesota, they will have 20 rostered forwards. I'm not math genius but that's 6 lines and 2 extra forwards. With the types of players Minnesota recruits, I have a tough time believing that anyone is going to be happy playing left wing on the 7th line in Minneapolis when only 4 lines can suit up every night. Recruits are catching on and it has at least one forward, Christian Isackson from St. Thomas Academy considering an offer from the WHL.

So I'm not trying to point fingers or throw anyone under the bus, but I'm sick and tired of Wisconsin recruiting getting ragged on consistently without people taking a look at their own situation.

With the way recruiting is now days, schools are forced to take chances on players younger, and younger every year. People have brought up different ideas to improve on these issues but the realistic issue is that if Mike Eaves, And Dave Hakstol, and Don Lucia can't recruit the elite 15 year olds, then those kids are going to end up playing in Canada. It's a catch 22 that I don't have an answer to.