I have no idea when Eaves will name Captains for next season, but was pondering this today and wanted to see what readers opinions were on the topic.
I think if Craig Smith returns (I believe him, but I want to see him in October on the ice), he’ll take over as Captain, after wearing an “A” his sophomore year. Craig has grown a lot since arriving in Madison. Last season, he had that foolish run in w/ the goal during the North Dakota series which showed frustration and stupidity, but following that really cleaned up his act. He led the Badgers on the scoreboard too, putting up a team high 19 goals, and was second in points. The last time Eaves named a Madison native Captain, something special happened, maybe it can again.
As for Alternate Captains, I have some thoughts on several players.
Justin Schultz: His return to Madison for a junior year makes him an early Hobey Baker favorite after being a finalist this year. Reading a Baggot article from the last month, Justin stated he wanted to more of a leader, and w/ almost no senior class (Eric Springer and Jordy Murray if he stays) he will be the go to guy on the blue line. Seems like a good fit as Justin will have to step up and follow in the line of Gilbert, Drewiske, McBain, McDonagh and Gardiner in leading the team’s blue line corp.
Jordy Murray: If Jordy returns next season, he would be a solid choice. He would be the only senior who has been a regular in the lineup his entire Badger career. Beyond experience, he is one of the hardest workers in Cardinal and White, setting a great example for the swelling group of underclassmen.
John Ramage: One could argue that John’s improvement was slow last season, but he was a contributor every night, and has two years of experience in the World Juniors. Only a handful of players have more experience as a Badger, and John will need to take his game to the next level next season.
Ryan Little: This is my outside the box nominee. While he’ll be in his 4th season as Badger, Ryan is only a junior. He is a hardnosed forward convert who I thought did a good job w/ regularity last season, and should be the first piece in putting together a new “grind” line whose job is making the opponent’s life miserable. In the USHL, Ryan captained the Green Bay Gamblers, so leadership is old hat for him.
Others: Of the future sophomore class, I think Tyler Barnes and Jefferson Dahl are future captains of the Badgers, but next season I think there are more experienced options. Derek Lee, being a junior, is another option, but compared to the other upperclassmen, he would be my 5th choice.
What do you think? If I was coach Eaves, I would give Craig Smith the “C” and give an “A” to both Justin Schultz and Jordy Murray. If Jordy leaves for Switzerland, I would choose Ryan Little, I think the team needs some grit leading the way.