[EDITOR'S NOTE: Hey, hockey fans, please welcome Center Ice to the Maize n Brew family! He'll be helping me out with the coverage this year, and will hit the recruiting stuff pretty hard. He's a great addition to the team and I hope you're as excited as I am about having some extra coverage. --Peter]
A near lock for the postseason a year ago, the Wolverines' shortcomings were exposed and they faltered down the stretch. Red and the staff return with a strong recruiting class hoping to fill the holes that kept them out of the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
2013 Team: USNTDP
Position: Center/Left Wing
Scoring Line: 31-25--56, 60 GP
The crown jewel of Michigan's 2014 class; Larkin arrives in Ann Arbor after a decorated career with the national program saw him selected 15th overall by Detroit in the NHL draft, the first 1st round forward to suit up for Michigan since Max Pacioretty in 2006 and the highest drafted forward to wear Maize and Blue since Jeff Tambellini in 2003.
What Larkin brings to the ice is the size and willingness to play hard around the dirty areas in front of the net, on the boards, as well as the compete level to play a 200-foot game and excell in all three zones. A strong skater with soft hands and tremendous hockey sense, Larkin brings a polished skill set ready to be a high end offensive contributor from the minute he steps on the ice.
The departures of Alex Guptill and Phil Di Giuseppe guarantee Larkin a spot in the Top-6. Whether he replaces a vacated wing spot or slots in as the 2nd line center with JT Compher moving to wing, Larkin has all of the tools to step in and be the impact player that we haven't seen in quite some time.
2013 Team: Vernon (BCHL)
Position: Left Wing
Scoring Line: 26-41--67, 56 GP
After struggling in his first full year in the BCHL, Dancs' stock skyrocketed in his second year finishing 7th in league scoring and shooting up NHL pre-draft rankings. Although Dancs was not selected in the draft, no recruit in Michigan's system improved his game last season more than Dancs.
Dancs fits the mold of the power forward that this recruiting class has focused on. At 6'2" 205, his build is a bit lankier than Larkin but he gets to the tough areas of the ice and creates problems around the crease without being moved. While there may be an adjustment period before he is acclimated offensively with the college game, the Wolverines suddenly find themselves in a position to have a real forecheck.
With Larkin taking one open spot on Michigan's top two lines one spot is left and by all accounts in practice, Dancs is making his case to claim it.
2013 Team: Sioux Falls (USHL)
Position: Right Wing
Scoring Line: 24-17--41, 60 GP
A late addition to the class, Calderone joined the Wolverines after switching his commitment from Princeton. The Trenton native compiled 53 goals in his two year USHL career and 85 total points in 124 games
In his first USHL season Tony Calderone made his mark in the USHL as an elite net presence, scoring most of his goals by putting back rebounds and tipping pucks in front of the net. In his second season Calderone worked to improve his skills moving with and without the puck. Unlike Larkin and Dancs, Calderone's offensive skills are not as polished as the numbers would indicate but for what Michigan needs that's not necessarily a bad thing. After years of not having a true net presence, what Calderone brings is a welcome sight.
The linechart will be tough to crack this season in the bottom 6 so don't expect to see huge numbers this season, but Calderone should find a way to make contributions on the ice this season.
2013 Team: Indiana (USHL)
Position: Right Wing
Scoring Line: 9-11--20, 57 GP
Kentwood native Alex Talcott joins the Wolverines after two years in the USHL, highlighted by a Clark Cup Championship with the Indiana Ice. In the USHL Talcott carved out his role as a heavy forechecker and defensive standout. While Talcott used an overage year in the league and showed an improvement to his offensive game, at Michigan his role isn't going to be scoring. As an underclassmen he will rotate in on the 4th line as an energy player, similar to how Red used Max Shuart last season.