Prospect Ramblings: College Hockey Recruitment

Josh Tessler

2020-03-15

 

This past season, the University of Wisconsin Badgers built a dominant roster. Badgers Head Coach Tony Granato and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez did an outstanding job recruiting. The Badgers managed to bring Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings prospect), Owen Lindmark (Florida Panthers prospect), Dylan Holloway (2020 NHL Draft Eligible prospect) and Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens prospect) to Madison, Wisconsin. Alongside those four new recruits, the Badgers had K’Andre Miller (New York Rangers prospect), Ty Emberson (Arizona Coyotes prospect) and Linus Weissbach (Buffalo Sabres prospect). While the Badgers comprised an outstanding roster, they failed to post an impressive record. 

 

In the Hockey East conference, the Boston College Eagles also did an impeccable job when it came to recruiting. Eagles Head Coach Jerry York and Athletic Director Martin Jarmond went above and beyond. They managed to recruit Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers prospect), Drew Helleson (Colorado Avalanche prospect), Marshall Warren (Minnesota Wild prospect) and Alex Newhook (Colorado Avalanche prospect). With those additions and several drafted prospects on the squad, the Eagles were the best team in Hockey East this season. If the United States bypassed the coronavirus outbreak, the Boston College Eagles were seen as one of the teams that were capable of making a long run in the playoffs. 

 

With the 2020 NHL Draft coming up, we will be seeing quite a bunch of talent joining the college ranks. The NCAA head coaches and athletic directors have been quite active in poaching talent and creating all-star lineups. Let’s look at the two college hockey clubs, who loaded up with talent for the 2020-2021 season. 

 

The University of Michigan Wolverines are coming off a strong season and they are only getting stronger. The Wolverines head coach Mel Pearson joined the program in 2017 and has already found success as he brought the program to the Frozen Four in 2018. Yet, the Wolverines will not stop the fight to be the best program in the Big 10. Before last season, Pearson brought Cameron York (Philadelphia Flyers prospect) and John Beecher (Boston Bruins prospect) to Ann Arbor, Michigan. If you thought Pearson was not aiming high after securing two former USNTDP players, you were wrong. 

 

In preparation for next season, Pearson has recruited Erik Portillo (Buffalo Sabres prospect). Portillo had an outstanding season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. The Swedish goaltender was named Goalie of the Week in the USHL multiple times and owned an impressive goals against average of 2.11 in 27 appearances. 

 

In addition to Portillo, the Wolverines have added Thomas Bordeleau (USNTDP, 2020 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect), Brendan Brisson (Chicago Steel, 2020 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect), Kent Johnson (Trail Smoke Eaters, 2021 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect), Mackie Samoskevich (Chicago Wolves, 2021 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect) and Jacob Truscott (USNTDP, 2020 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect). With those acquisitions, it is entirely possible that the University of Michigan Wolverines will post extraordinary offensive production in 2020-2021. 

The Harvard University Crimson had solid season in 2019-2020. The Crimson owned an overall record of 15-10-6, but next year’s squad will be loaded with talent and there is a chance that the Crimson could be the top team in the ECAC. Harvard Head Coach Ted Donato (former NHLer and father of Minnesota Wild player Ryan Donato) successfully Matthew Beniers (USNTDP, 2021 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect), Sean Farrell (Chicago Steel, 2020 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect) and Alex Gaffney (Muskegon Lumberjacks, 2020 NHL Draft Eligible Prospect). Beniers is coming off his first full season with the USNTDP U18 team. As a 17-year-old, he fared extremely well with the U18s and managed to post 18 goals and 23 assists in 44 games. Farrell provides the Crimson with a robust playmaker and seemed to pick up plenty of popularity amongst draft analysts after his play at the World Junior A Challenge in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Gaffney is another quality addition and will be a solid depth forward for the Crimson. 

 

In addition to Beniers, Farrell and Gaffney, the Crimson will likely have Henry Thrun (Anaheim Ducks prospect), John Farinacci (Arizona Coyotes prospect), Nicholas Abruzzese (Toronto Maple Leafs prospect) and Mitchell Gibson (Washington Capitals prospect) back. Abruzzese had an outstanding freshman season, in which he tallied 14 goals and 30 assists in 31 games. Farinacci was also quite pivotal for the Crimson, as he mustered up 10 goals and 12 assists in 31 games. Plus, there is always a chance that the Vancouver Canucks let Jack Rathbone return for another season and that the Carolina Hurricanes do the same with Jack Drury. All-in-all, there is a lot to like about the Harvard program for next season. 

 

The University of Michigan and Harvard University have historically been two elite hockey programs and they are quite stacked with talent for next season. Perhaps, we could see both programs go all the way to the 2021 Frozen Four.

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