Monday, March 22, 2010

Recruiting: Badgers Focusing On Chicago Talent

When USA Hockey released the names of the 47 players invited to the NTDP Tryout Camp a little over a week ago, there was one obvious trend. Chicago looks absolutely loaded at the 1994 level (2012 recruits).

Overall 11 players from the state of Illinois have been invited to the tryout which starts Friday and runs through Tuesday. 9 of those players are currently playing midget hockey in Chicago including 6 from the Chicago Mission program alone (2 from CYA, 1 from Fury).

With the proximity of the Wisconsin campus, the lack of a Division 1 program in the state of Illinois, and the tradition and prestige of the Wisconsin hockey, it's only natural for many of these players to have a strong interest in the Badger program. Looking through Rivals new site, CollegeHockey247.com, it becomes very apparent that Eaves and company are taking a good hard look at the boys from the windy City.

The first player is an interesting prospect. Alex Galchenyuk (pictured) from the Chicago Young Americans program was born in the states but his family is from Russia. Besides living in the states, he's also spent time living in Russia and Italy. He's an absolute stud but is a serious flight risk to the OHL. Galchenyuk absolutely obliterated the Tier 1 U-16 league in scoring this season. He recorded 87 points in 38 games, 33 points more than the second place finisher.

Galchenyuk, a 6'1, 184 pound forward has heard from Yale and Wisconsin and has been invited to the NTDP camp next weekend, but he's still undecided on his next team. I've seen projections that have Galchenyuk as high as a top 5 pick in the upcoming OHL draft. His coach mentions in the article linked above that it's going to depend on how high and what team drafts him. In the end this is a kid who is probably going to end up hearing "Oh Canada" before the start of his games next season.

The Chicago Mission program, which I mentioned earlier got 6 invites to the USA tryout, houses two potential Badger recruits at the U-16 level. Forward Ray Pigozzi, and defenseman Justin Wade.

Pigozzi is a smaller forward, but a very dynamic forward. He's listed at 5'11, 165 but has two and a half years before he would ever even step onto a college campus. In the CollegeHockey247.com article that I linked above, his coach talks about how strong his lower body is and how skilled he is with the puck. Pigozzi has already visited the campus according to CollegeHockey247.com during the football season. From the sounds of the article, Pigozzi loved everything about his visit. He is also currently considering New Hampshire, Michigan, and Minnesota-Duluth. I've seen projections as high as the second round in the upcoming OHL Priority Selection for Pigozzi. I think in the end Pigozzi ends up in college.

Chris from Western College Hockey has had some nice things to say about Pigozzi. He saw him this fall at the NAHL Showcase and said this, "Really impressive. Great offensive instincts, and isn't the biggest guy, but isn't afraid to throw his weight around."

Justin Wade is a shutdown defender in the Johnny Ramage mold. He's also not short on confidence, which I love in a player. In the article listed above his coach also talks about his high hockey IQ. Wade is already listed at 6'2, 197 pounds as a 15 year old. CollegeHockey247 says that he may be a high pick in the upcoming OHL Priority Selection, but from every indication, it sounds like he's committed to the college game. According to the article he's been getting a ton of interest but at this time he only lists Wisconsin as a possible destination.

I also wanted to remind you that 2012 committed forward recruit Nick Kerdiles who I interviewed after he committed in February will also be at the tryout camp. If you remember from the interview, he has already been offered and has accepted a spot in Ann Arbor with the USA NTDP U17's for next season. With Kerdiles, Corbin McGuire, and Jordan Schmaltz already lined up for 2012, adding 1 or 2 of the guys listed above would make this an absolutely sick class.