Monday, April 12, 2010

Early Departures are coming

First, I'd like to thank Chuck for all of his hard work over the past 2 years here on the blog. Best of luck in your future endeavors! 60, vacation over, we have to pick up the slack now.

Today in the WSJ Andy Baggot discusses early departures, and so why not talk about it; the season is over and it is going to happen whether as fans we foolishly wish everyone would return.

From Baggot's article:

In addition to the seven seniors - all forwards - it's expected Smith and junior defenseman Cody Goloubef will bypass their senior seasons and turn pro. Smith is a first-round NHL draft pick of Detroit and the top-scoring defenseman in the nation who appears anxious to get to the next level. Goloubef is a second-round pick of Columbus, a NHL organization known for wanting its top talent in the system as soon as possible.

The biggest wild card is junior defenseman and tri-captain Ryan McDonagh, a former first-round pick of the New York Rangers. He was a dominant physical force - arguably the best all-around blue-liner in the nation - but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him follow Geoffrion's decorated path and return to the Badgers in search of an NCAA title.

Sophomore center Derek Stepan led UW in scoring - 12 goals, 42 assists, 54 points - and earned rave reviews as captain of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the World Junior Championships. But the second-round draft pick of the Rangers has consistently maintained he plans to return.

No one is surprised that Smith is a lock to leave for the pros and join Detroit's system. Cody Goloubef is a surprise to me, but not as much as talk that McDonagh might actually return. To be blunt, holy shit it would be something special of McD returned for a senior season. Baggot makes good points on why one might leave (Goloubef) and why one might stay (McD).

I have to ask though, how is Ryan McDonagh not ready for the next level? There isn't a dman in the country as physical and pro ready as this young man. He doesn't have anything left to prove at this level, but if he returns I certainly won't be complaining!

Cody Goloubef on the other hand could easily step up to the pros, but I think he'd have plenty to gain by returning to Madison for another year (besides the obvious of a large paycheck, etc). Assuming McDonagh leaves still, he'd be the leader on the blue line, likely an alternate captain, and probably see a ton of ice time, bigger offensive role, etc.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I'd be surprised to the Ducks call for either Jake Gardiner or Justin Schultz. The latter did have a great freshman year, but he still has a lot to learn. If Gardiner returns he'll likely take Brendan Smith's spot on the PP and could be the next Badger blue line All American.

I think Stepan stays, and there aren't really any other flight risks at forward, though you never know what will happen. Brett Bennett could leave too if the Coyotes come calling, as Goody certainly asserted himself as the top tender, but the spot will be up for grabs again in the Fall.

Last season the team hit the jackpot getting McDonagh and Geoffrion back, this season will be a matter of how many leave. I think the team can survive 3 departures, but more than that could make things tough. Should be an interesting few months coming up.