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Hockey Recruiting Spotlight: Centers

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Michigan has built an impressive recruiting class for the 2015 season starting down the middle with their centers.

Gregory Shamus

While the past two seasons haven't lived up to expectations in the win column, one area that has not slowed down is recruiting. Despite missing the postseason for the second consecutive season, recruiting has never been better for Red Berenson and his staff and it starts down the middle with the centers.

Kyle Connor
Class: 2015
2014 Team: Youngstown (USHL)
Scoring Line: 2-4--6, 5 GP

The top recruit in Michigan's 2015 class, Kyle Connor has skyrocketed up draft boards since compiling a 31-43--74 line last season in the USHL. Connor's stock rose even higher after he joined the USA U-18 program during the summer and posted a point per game though seven games. Now in his final USHL season, Connor has gone from a possible 1st round pick to being locked into the Top-15 in next year's draft.

Connor has quickly become an elite offensive playmaker, showcasing dynamic puck skills, a hard shot and strong skating ability. With great hockey sense to go along with his physical skills, Connor has excellent movement away from the puck, easily finding holes in defensive zone coverage and moving well in transition.

Arriving on campus next season, Connor will be an instant impact player in the offensive zone. Defensive zone responsibilities and forechecking will be a work in progress, but when you get an offensive player of Connor's caliber the coaching staff will let those things slide.

Sam Miletic
Class: 2015
2014 Team: Green Bay (USHL)
Scoring Line: 2-2--4, 4 GP

After just missing the cut to join NTDP U-17 a year ago, Miletic has been an under the radar but steady rising recruit in the Wolverines' prospect pool. Miletic brings a physical skill set to the ice with a high compete level, strong skating and solid offensive instincts, getting himself into quality scoring areas and has soft hands around the net.

Miletic doesn't have the high end offensive skills that Kyle Connor and Connor Murphy do, but he brings a 200-foot style to the ice and harder play around the net that the other two centers don't while still having potential to be a go-to scoring option for the Wolverines.

Getting minutes as a freshman could be tough with Copp, Larkin and Connor in front of him, but Miletic could earn minutes early if he can forecheck and play situational minutes defensively.

Connor Murphy
Class: 2015
2014 Team: Chicago (USHL)
Scoring Line: 2-2--4, 5 GP

The last forward to commit for the 2015 season, Murphy enjoyed a decorated career in Canada's top Junior B league being named an OHA Top Prospect, winning the league MVP, and finishing the season with a 32-64--96 scoring line through just 49 games.

Competition level coming from a lower rated league and size concerns were question marks for Murphy heading to college, so he took an overage year and joined the Chicago Steel of the USHL where he has started hot with four points in his first five games.

While slightly undersized, Murphy possess excellent puck skills, high hockey IQ and unique ability as an offensive creator. A strong skater with a quick first stride, Murphy could see minutes on the wing or at center as a freshman before moving into a full-time center role as a sophomore.

2015, 2016 And Beyond

Michigan has a 9 player class for 2015, but the coaching staff will gladly add Arizona super recruit Auston Matthews if they can. For now, neither the 2016 or 2017 classes have a center commit. The coaching staff will look to add a checking center later in the recruiting period, but for now the in-state targets such as NTDP forwards Keeghan Howdeshell and Paul Washe should be on their radar.