As the Huskies’ season appears to be slipping away after their destructive defeat to Providence College last night, let’s turn to what is always a sunnier topic of discussion: next season, and future players for Northeastern (the grass is always greener on their other side of the hill for the Huskies).
Recently, the Huskies have picked up two future commitments. The first came from Lincoln Griffin, a ’97 currently playing in the Preps. Griffin is described as a guy who plays hard and can score (he currently has a 13-22-35 line in the Preps playing for a pretty bad Prep team). Griffin looks like a very solid pickup, and has been mentioned as one of the top ’97s last year by the US Hockey Report. Griffin’s father played baseball for Northeastern, and the university connection might help ensure he sticks with his commitment. Griffin is coming in the fall of either 2015 or 2016.
Northeastern also picked up a commitment from ’98 David Melaragni, a defenseman playing for Team Comcast. Melaragni is consistently mentioned as one of the top players in his year, and I’ve seen several mentions that he could play with ’97s. He is slated to arrive either 2016 or 2017 (though if these scouting reports are accurate and he ends up coming to Northeastern, I’d bet he’ll come in 2016).
Both of these kids look like top prospects, but it’s important to remember how far away from college these kids are. A lot of things could change between now and their arrival years. It’s really a no-lose situation for these kids. By committing they get their name out there and as young players they don’t need to sign any documents tying themselves to NU just yet, so if they decide to take their talents elsewhere, they certainly can.
In terms of the more immediate recruits, NU is pretty well set with players for next year. Garrett Cockerill, Zach Aston-Reese, and Ross Olsson have all been pushed back to 2014 instead of 2013. This means the incoming class will be 9 players, 7 forwards (Nathan Ferriero, Michael Szmatula, John Stevens, Dalen Hedges, Will Messa, Tanner Pond, and Michael Jamieson). Jamieson and Messa are probably non-scholarship guys, and Tanner Pond probably isn’t getting a ton of money, but Hedges, Stevens, Szmatula, and Ferriero are the headliners of next year’s class. The Huskies also bring in two defensemen: Jake Schecter and Matt Benning. Benning’s the main guy here, he’s already been drafted by the Bruins and is featured on the power play on a pretty stacked Dubuque team.
Finally we come to the elusive beast that is a goalie. Long story short, we have none. The main reason I suspect is we simply have no more scholarship money. Witt and Roy will probably take up a chunk of money, and with hockey only having 18 scholarships total, you can’t really afford to have 3 scholarships tied up on goalies when only one can play at a time.
I’m not terribly worried about the lack of another goalie for next year. Before Witt was overshadowed by Rawlings (literally, not a metaphor for Rawling’s strength in goal), he was an NHL draft prospect, and put up solid numbers in the USHL. Give him an offseason to get back to healthiness and train, and give him the starting position and he’ll probably put up numbers similar to Rawlings in 2010/2011, especially with a stronger defense next year. I’d also prefer for the coaching staff to take their time and make a smart pick for the next goalie, rather than picking the best option for next year.
Fans will remember that Cronin scrambled to find a goalie midway through the 2008/2009 season and ended up with Rawlings, so waiting a year and picking the next Thiessen is fine by me. The three top goalies in goals allowed average in the USHL are all uncommitted and available for the future. If I had to guess which one I’d say Arthur Brey of the Dubuque Fighting Saints. He leads the USHL in GAA, and is the youngest of those three top goalies (born in 1994). While Brey has been splitting time with another goalie, the other goalie was traded away for a player who is clearly destined to be a backup, which indicates that the Dubuque coaching staff intends for Brey to be their go-to goalie for the rest of the year and next. There will certainly be other solid goalies for the 2014 season, but suffice to say Madigan and company will be able to find a talented goalie for the Huskies when the time comes.