Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What's Eaves to do?

W/ the recent departure of Derek Stepan to the pros, the question is: what is Eaves going to do? The roster for next season is currently down to 13 forwards, which is certainly not enough; he has to bring a couple guys in. I think he has three options or a combination of these options.

Before I continue this analysis, I don’t think McDonagh's leaving or not impacts how many players to add to next season’s roster. If he leaves, the team still has 8 defensemen. At this point, I’m assuming he’ll sign at/after the Rangers prospect camp. The only hope I hold for his return is that he doesn’t want to be a Ranger, they won’t trade him, and he decides to return to college for a year and then wait until next summer after his rights expire w/ the Rangers, and he signs w/ a different organization. I’d imagine he’d have his pick, though financially I’m not sure if he’d get more money that way since I’m not familiar w/ free agent contract vs draftee contract maximums. And who could blame him if he didn’t want to be a Ranger? Never liked them, and won’t be changing my mind any time this century.

Anyway, I got side tracked there.

Option #1: Bring in 2 or 3 of the 2011 recruits.

No one is going to replace Derek Stepan no matter what happens, and I think all five of these recruits need another season in Juniors before joining the Badgers next season. Here are last season’s stats for each player (not that stats tell the whole story):

Brendan Woods: 34 games, 6-4-10
Matt Paape: 55 games, 11-12-23
Cody Strang: 48 games, 9-10-19
Tyler Lapic: 45 games, 5-8-13
Gavin Hartzog: 15 games, 1-3-4 in the USHL, 31 games, 5-8-13 in NAHL (also 5 pts in playoffs helping Bismarck to the Robertson Cup)

Of the group, Woods is the best talent, but w/ his injury last season and a chance to be one of the go to guys in Muskegon, it would be wise to leave him in the USHL. The rest of the group is a crap shoot. If I were Eaves, I’d bring in Strang and Hartzog as older players (both will be over 20 years old when the season starts) who could fight for checking line time, and maybe Lapic and leave Paape in the USHL, if this was his only option.

Option #2: Are there any uncommitted players ready for NCAA Hockey who could contribute immediately as a Badger?

To be honest, I have no idea. I follow the USHL a decent amount, but no one comes to mind who could immediately contribute to the Badgers next season, and if Eaves brings in an uncommitted player, they should be better than the five 2011 recruits, otherwise why not just bring them in? I’m not really sure this is a viable Option simply because there might not be anyone worthwhile out there.

Option #3: Someone decommits from another school and joins the Badgers.

I suppose this could be multiple players, especially if McDonagh does leave and there are bags of scholarship money sitting on Eaves’ desk. Like Option #2, is there anyone out there to even fit this position at this point? Two years ago, DU found out they had an extra schollie and Patrick Wiercioch opted out of his verbal to UW to go there. This is a similar situation, but is there a player looking to play in 2010 instead of 2011 interested in decommitting? I have no idea. This would be the team’s best option to get another higher end talent who could contribute immediately. Had Stepan signed w/ the Rangers a month ago, I wonder if Ryan Walters would be a Badger right now and we’d be singing his praises. Is there another Ryan Walters type talent out there?

I’m being hopeful that Option #2 or #3 turns up another player of higher end talent for the Badgers. Let’s be honest, there is going to be immense minutes at forward next season, if someone decommits and joins the Badgers, they will get to play a lot. So let’s assume this takes up one more roster spot, Eaves still has to figure out which 2011 recruit(s) to bring in next season to give the team at least 15 forwards.

In the grand scheme of things, this might open up another spot in 2011 for a late blooming talent depending how many 2011 recruits are brought in, in 2010. Vinny Saponari also becomes a real nice possibility to transfer in as a Junior for the 2011/12 season, which would make the 2011/12 version of Badger Hockey look nicer having another experienced talent joining the team. The team isn’t flush w/ upperclassmen this coming season at forward (4) or next season (4) if no one leaves early. Sure he had problems at Boston U, so did Bennett, but he didn’t show any signs of that last season.

I can’t think of any other scenarios, feel free to comment if you can think of something else.