Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Who Are These Guys?

I'm not sure why Paul Statsny's departure has seemed like such a big deal to me. It hurts Denver next season, but he's certainly not the first player to leave early this offseason, nor will he likely be the last. I guess maybe it's just because nothing else is going on right now. I'm sitting here waiting for a mysterious Kinko's fax implicating some coach in major NCAA violations, but nothing. Oh well.

So thinking about all the players that have left early this summer got me thinking about just who exactly will be coming back in the WCHA. I looked it up, and it wasn't pretty.

Go ahead, try and name the top 10 returning scorers in the WCHA for next season. If you were like me, it probably went something like this: "Kessel, Oshie, Toews, ummmm, Morin, Dingle, I guess maybe Salcido, Andrew Gordon, and after that, I have absolutely no clue." Those would all be correct. The three names I didn't include: Alex Goligoski, Ryan Duncan, and Chad Rau.

Wait a minute. Ryan Duncan and Chad Rau? I mean, they both had pretty good freshmen seasons, but they're supposed to be two of the 10 best players returning to the WCHA?

Here's a list that I put together of the top returning scorers in the WCHA, based on last year's stats, and where they finished in the WCHA scoring race last season:

1. Phil Kessel(6)
2. T.J. Oshie(11)
3. Ryan Dingle(12)
4. Travis Morin(14)
5. Andrew Gordon(16)
6. Brian Salcido(16)
7. Alex Goligoski(18)
8. Jonathan Toews(18)
9. Ryan Duncan(22)
10. Chad Rau(30)
11. Ben Gordon(32)
12. Mason Raymond(35)
13. Justin Fletcher(36)
14. Brian Lee(36)
15. Matt McKnight(41)
16. Ryan Stoa(41)
17. Dan Kronick, Ross Carlson, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Carroll, Aaron Brocklehurst, Chris Porter(44)

Here's a few observations from those numbers:

1. Out of the top 30 scorers in the WCHA last season, 2 out of 3 either graduated or left school early. Players leaving early had a slight majority over players graduating.

2. Out of the top 50 scorers last year, fewer than half will back next season.

3. Of the 22 names listed, 10 of them will be sophomores next season. Only 4 will be seniors next season.

So what does it all mean?

This seems to mark a new trend in college hockey, especially in the WCHA. The NHL's new collective bargaining agreement makes it extremely attractive for teams to offer a player close to the rookie maximum contract and lure them away from school. Even offering a college player the maximum contract is cheaper than picking up a more experience veteran in most cases.

Of course this is probably highlighted even more so this summer since it is the first full summer with the new CBA. If this system had been in place for years, it's likely guys like Gabe Gauthier, David Backes, Danny Irmen, and Matt Carle would have signed pro contracts prior to last season.

But it does show that the make-up of the WCHA will be very different in the future. Instead of being a league dominated by juniors and seniors, the league will have to be run by talented sophomores and freshmen, and fans will have to get used to the idea of only having a talented player for 2 or 3 seasons at the most.

Will this hurt the WCHA's recent dominance? It may put a little dent in things, but the WCHA brings in so much talent on a yearly basis that they should be able to recover. Of course the positive way to look at this is that it brings a little more parity to the WCHA, and college hockey in general. Teams that can't recruit the top prospects can rely on older, less-heralded players to lead them against talented young teams.


Runninwiththedogs said...

Dan Kronick has that many points? Gross. Almost all of them came against UMD in one weekend, I swear.

He WAS mysteriously absent from the MN 4 on 4 hockey league on Tuesday. Must have known I was coming.

Battle Hymn said...

Hey Chris,
He didn't make your list because of taking last season off, but don't forget that Tyler Hirsch is expected back this year.

Bruce Ciskie said...

In what is now going to be a freshman/sophomore league, how much do you think it benefits Minnesota to have a guy like Tyler Hirsch back after what he has gone through? And how much does it benefit UMD to have Ryan Geris back after what he has gone through?

Anonymous said...

So Bruce, are you saying teams should start recruiting at the mental clinics? (;

Anonymous said...

so what exactly happened to tyler hirsch... can someone explain what he did.

Bruce Ciskie said...

What mental clinic is Ryan Geris coming out of?

You're about as funny as a gas chamber.


Anonymous said...

The Tyler Hirsch "incident": http://www.collegehumor.com/movies/134262/

Minnesota fans like to pretend that this never happened, so don't be surprised if there's some whining.

Anonymous said...

Actually this year, I think someone not out of the "big five"(UM, UW, UND, CC, DU)has a great shot of winning the WCHA this year. SCSU? UMD? If there is any year where the bottom feeders(MTU, UAA) have a remote chance this would be it.

And as far as the Hirsch question after the incident above, he decided he wasn't mentally capable of playing in 2005-2006.

Chris said...

I'm not touching this with a 10 foot pole.

And Anchorage will not win the WCHA this year. In fact, I think it's a little insensitive to even joke about that.

Battle Hymn said...

To answer your question Bruce I think it will help the Gophers a ton to have their leading scorer from two years ago back. They have a lot of young forwards, a veteran playmaker will make them that much better. I am not familiar with the Geris situation.

Chris said...

Geris and Hirsch will both be mentioned quite in a bit in my upcoming season previews for their respective teams when I post them, probably in August.

redwing77 said...

I think Hirsch will help the team, but don't look for him to be a leader. No, I'm not going to make a crack at leadership being an issue because of why he was gone last year. I'm saying he's not going to be a leader because he was plain gone last year. A big part of why a player is named a Captain or a even just a leader on the team is what he has shown in the lockerroom leading up to the particular season. Tyler has played great in the past, but he had his episode and spent last season recovering. He's going to be expected to contribute and be a go to guy on the ice, but being a go to guy doesn't necessarily make you a leader. I look for Hirsch to have an alright year on a VERY talented Gopher team.

I know nothing about the Geris situation so I cannot comment on that.

As for where teams will end up, who knows! I thought UND wouldn't make the NCAAs last year and they did. I thought UMD would be a lot better but they weren't. I didn't see what was so special about UW heading into last season but they were astounding. What is to jump up and down about regarding CC or DU?

The only "for sure" there will be is the fact that SCSU will be more of a factor now that they are rid of one of the worst head coaches in DI hockey. If you want evidence even on paper, look at the type of recruits SCSU is getting. NO BLEEPING WAY would Dahl land players like Aaron Marvin, Jordy Christian, Jase Waselosky, and Andreas Nodl (as examples).

siouxnami said...

Lucia played Hirsh after the incident... Either Lucia should be fired and never work as a coach again for playing an unstable player. OR we can all laugh at the ass Hirsh made of himself. I choose the later.