Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many interviews with people in and around the world of college hockey. Our first guest is none other than Paul Shaheen, who writes the respected Research on Ice email newsletter.
WCH: Tell us a little bit about the Research on Ice newsletter. How did it get started? What type of news do you cover? Where do you get your info?
PS: January of 2005. Was working for various web sites, and had success writing recruiting stories and stories about junior a and AAA hockey teams. Info in gleaned from speaking with various junior A/AAA/college coaches. And as for recruiting tips, many of them, truth be told, come from readers in the know in their respective parts of the country. To that end, the newsletter is very interactive. To my readers, I am ever grateful for their help, and readership.
WCH: I think by now, most everyone knows about Erik Johnson and how good he is supposed to be. But who are some other freshmen that people maybe aren't as familiar with that you think will make a big impact next season?
PS: As usual, look out for Michigan's incoming class (Kamper, Summers,) even though they lost Lewis and company. Carl Sneep, BC, great player. Gryba, BU, could be dominant, Ferris State's Casey Haines, kid can flat out score. OSU's Joe Palmer in net could be another dominator. Denver: Rakhshani, Matt Glasser and company. all are top notch players. There are so many, that's just a sampling.
WCH: There's been an unprecedented amount of early departures to the pros this offseason. With the way the NHL rules are set up now, do you think some teams will change their recruiting strategy and try to recruit more four year players, rather than going after high draft picks that will leave after a year or two?
PS: Not sure. On the one hand, yes, they'd love to get a player for four years just like NHL clubs are trying to get players for the max time possible. Exactly why they're leaving early--UFA now at age 27.
On the other hand, no college, esp one which thinks it's just a few puzzle pieces away from a national title, would pass on a player EVEN if it knew it would only have him for a year or two. Phil Kessel for example. Don Lucia's no dummy, he knows he's only going to have him for a small window of time. But if a coach can maximize a player's usage, you bet they'll take them. All it means is coaches and assistants need to engage in better asset management, knowing their machine parts, especially their more effective ones, simply now have a shorter shelf life than ever before.
WCH: What are your thoughts on the recent trend of teams recruiting and offering scholarships to players that are as young as 15 years old?
PS: This is a 50/50 to me. On the one hand, what choice do they have? if they don't go after them, CHL clubs (can) and will, and so too will other college recruiting rivals.
On the other hand, kids are just making decisions at way too young an age. That said, I'm perfectly ok with kids committing early, esp if they pick a school they've always loved in their heart. The only thing that frosts me, and a lot of other people, is when a verbal committment is made SIMPLY for negotiating purposes!
Kids may make decisions too early in life, but they are smarter than we think. Plus, unscrupulous agents and beguilied (or sometimes beguiling parents) do this simply as a ploy to extract more money from CHL clubs somewhere down the road.
Angelo Esposito is the best example. Yes, he hadn't made a verbal committment by the time he was picked by the 'Q's' Quebec Remparts last year, but upon being selected, his father said that (owner) patrick ROy shouldn't even bother talking to him or his son. Then, when Angelo signed, the father, a Montreal area native, said: 'we learned what the Q was all about.'
What? You live and work in Montreal and you DON'T know what the Q is all about?
WCH: Powerhouse schools like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan bring in good players every year, but is there a team out there that maybe isn't as good right now, but has some good commitments lined up that will make them better in the future?
PS: Sure, Bowling Green, getting more impact players all the time, but the school that continues to work its tail off and continues to amaze is Miami of Ohio. These days, the Hawks seem to be in the mix on every top kid in the midwest, and in many cases, far beyond!
WCH: Who are some of the top players that will be playing in juniors next year that college hockey fans should know about?
PS: Oh heavens, several: BC bound Nick Petrecki comes to mind (assuming he doesn't go Major A), BU's Colin Wilson, perhaps the steal of the 2007 class! Ferris State bound winger Pat Maroon, a 6-4, 227 pound manchild. Michigan bound Ben Winnett, without a doubt one of the most talented, and well-spoken 17 year-olds I've ever had the pleasure of talking to. Michigan State future D-man Jeff Petry--son of former Detroit Tiger pitcher Dan: Wonderful emerging talent. Notre Dame 07 defenseman Ian Cole: comes from great stock, and very talented. Wisconisn 07 recruit Brendan Smith, a marvelous blueliner (again assuminig he doesn't pull back and go major A).
By the way, and would like to reinterate this: Though ROI's focus is college recruits, we're NOT of the opinion that a player's decision to play in the CHL is akin to joining the dark side. Some kids aren't meant for college hockey and have no desire to study. So frankly, they should play Major A.
Many Major A clubs do a good job of emphasizing school for their young players. Again, our beef is when a kid (his parents or his agent) knowingly play both sides against each other for their own gain. Nothing wrong with negotiating. That's just good business, but too many take it way over the top!
WCH: If he you had to pick today, which team do you think will win the national championship next season?
PS: Tough call, a sleeper could emerge, but I'll take a stab and say Minnesota or Denver.
WCH: And finally, for anyone that is interested, how would they get in contact with you to sign up for your newsletter?
PS: Email me at:
Puckkeg@comcast.net. It only costs $25 to join, then free thereafter. The newsletter is sent via email, and we usually publish three to four times per week.
By the way, thank you Chris for your excellent work. No college hockey household should be without your blog site on their list of internet 'favorites.'
And special thanks go out to Paul for being willing to participate.