An in person viewing, tournament showings and future targets in this months roundup
Leading The Way
A recruiting roundup wouldn't be the same without Michigan's top recruit Kyle Connor, who continues to break records in the USHL. Last month it was Connor scoring 50 goals before he turned 18, then becoming the Youngstown Phantoms All-Time leading scorer.
Connor has now passed Sam Anas as the All-Time leading goal scorer in franchise history with 55, as well as setting the assist mark with 77.
To go along with those accomplishments, Connor remains in the Top-10 in USHL scoring with a 7-10--17 line though 14 games.
In Person Viewing
I got my first USHL viewing of the year last week when Waterloo and Chicago faced off, featuring Michigan commits Hayden Lavigne and Connor Murphy and came away liking what I saw from both players.
Murphy is as advertised; an exceptional offensive playmaker who moves the puck well with a quick first stride. Murphy took an overage year in the USHL and has started the season strong with a 7-5--12 scoring line through 15 games. Any concerns over his size or adjusting to the competition level are long gone.
Lavigne is a recruit that you have to look past the stats for. Playing in Tri-City last season with a Storm blueline decimated by injuries, Lavigne faced 30+ shots and countless odd man rushes on a game-by-game basis. This year has been much of the same; the game I saw Lavigne stopped 36 pucks and gave up 4 goals on breakaways and 2-on-1's.
I've seen Lavigne three times and came away with the same impression each time. Lavigne has good lateral movement for a bigger goaltender, sees through traffic and positions himself well. He does a nice job coming out to the top of the circle and challenging shooters, but needs to work on rebound control.
Both NTDP programs took the ice for the Four Nations Tournament earlier in the month, with U-18 playing in Sweden and U-17 in Ann Arbor.
Nick Boka and Brendan Warren finished their international careers with an undefeated record taking gold after beating Sweden 6-4. Warren continues to produce offensively after a 2-2--4 line in the tournament, currently sitting at 11-7--18 on the season.
Most of my viewing during the tournament was with U-17, where five Michigan recruits were showcased on the way to a semifinal loss to Russia. Will Lockwood was impressive with 3 goals and a relentless motor, while the duo of Griffin Luce and Luke Martin were both solid but not spectacular on the blueline.
Nick Pastujov stole the show with a 3-6--9 output that was only overshadowed by a spectacular tournament from Max Jones. Pastujov was ferocious on the forecheck and forced half a dozen turnovers in the neutral zone with an active stick, while also showing good instincts on the rush and in the offensive zone.
The Wolverines will look to finish the 2016 class and get started on 2017, and should look no further than a stacked Detroit Honeybaked program featuring highly touted forward prospect Collin Adams and defensemen Mason Vaughn on the blueline, who play with Michigan commit Michael Pastujov.
After going undrafted a year ago in the OHL Priority Selection draft, North York defensemen Will Reilly has been a rising star over the past year and has gone from an unknown to a defensemen showing pro potential. Reilly is a raw talent, but has made impressive strides to his game in a short period of time. An excellent skater, Reilly has earned a reputation as a skilled, puck moving defensemen who quarterbacks the North York power play.
Reilly doesn't appear to have interest in joining a CHL team and has said that he would like to commit to a school sometime in the next few months. While he has received interest from quite a few programs, coming from the Toronto area where Michigan recruits very well could give the Wolverines a leg up.
Elsewhere, the new name on everyone's list is Brock Boeser. A Minnesota native and Wisconsin decommit, Boeser took visits to Mariucci and Yost a year ago before pledging to the Badgers; now that his recruitment has reopened the Wolverines could look to get back in the race. The talented winger is the leading goal scorer in the USHL and a projected 1st round pick in the 2015 draft.