Sunday, April 27, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

It seems appropriate that The Clash (stay or go, conflicted, a clash, get it?) filled the airwaves with that question many years ago. I’m sure many UND players with professional aspirations are struggling with that question right now.

But before we delve into those considerations, let’s view this not from the individual’s but the team’s point of view.

UND has 9 forwards lined up to come in between now and September 2009. (Yes, that does say 2009 intentionally.) UND has 8 forwards who will run out of eligibility between now and 2009 and another named Chris VandeVelde who most likely won’t play a senior season given his size and talent (two of the NHL’s favorite commodities).

UND has 4 defensemen lined up to come in between now and September 2009. UND has 4 defensemen who will run out of eligibility between now and 2009.

Goaltending? JP Lamoureux leaves and Brad Eidsness arrives.

About the only non-alignment I see is a replacement in fall of 2009 for Aaron Walski.

To use a badly overused phrase: Coincidence? I think not.

Ever since I was first exposed to that data I was impressed. It seems to me that Dave Hakstol and his staff recruit with a plan much larger than just “this fall”. They seem to be thinking in terms of a couple of falls from now. The numbers bear this out.

So knowing that the numbers align nearly as well as one could possibly imagine I’m only left to wonder: “Who is going when? Who is coming when?”

Put another way, a lot seems to hinge on the answer to the question on the minds of some of UND’s top players, namely: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” Only those players can answer that question for themselves.

Me, however, I can speculate on who would be coming in.

We know Lamoureux is gone. Welcome Brad Eidsness.

Robbie Bina has expended all of his eligibility. Ben Blood is the obvious choice. He’s USHL tested and will be 19.5 years old come September 2008.

Andrew MacWilliam, Joe Gleason, and Cory Finehage will all be 18.5 years this fall; however, MacWilliam is coming from an AJHL championship team this season, the others, the MSHSL and short stints in the USHL. MacWilliam seems next in line if there is a defensive early departure, with the remaining two filling the slots due to open for 2009.

Forward is where it gets tricky.

Rylan Kaip and Kyle Radke open immediate spots at forward. Given their ages (each will be 20+ when school opens in 2008) Brett Hextall and Mario Lamoureux appear to be obvious replacements.

But after that comes pure speculation. TJ Oshie? Kozek? Duncan? VandeVelde?

Oshie’s departure assures Jason Gregoire coming in (if that’s not the case already). Another forward departing early would seem to signal to me Brett Bruneteau’s position.

Some of you are wondering why I speculate Bruneteau and not David Toews or Mike Cichy. I based that on Bruneteau’s age (full year older than either) and extensive USHL experience.

Toews and Cichy would each be just past their 18th birthdays (18 years, 3 months or 2 months) at start of school this fall. In the recent era UND has only brought in three forwards that young: Jonathan Toews, Drew Stafford, and Zach Parise. (Michael Forney and Brad Malone each arrived at 18 years 4 months.)

David Toews’ late season injury adds further question to his entry. Mike Cichy led Tri-City (USHL) in scoring but didn’t crack the top 25 in the league with his 45 point tally. Those things make me wonder if they are ready for the WCHA and make me really glad I’m not Dave Hakstol having to make these calls.

More importantly for each, where’s their slot in the line-up?

Right now we have more questions than answers, with the key question being, for current roster members: “Should I stay or should I go?”


Goon said...

If I remember right, Toews was said to basically not be hurt that bad and would have not bearing on his arrival her at UND. I think it was Brad's blog that stated it.

dagies said...

Bruneteau's statistics have been less than stellar in the USHL. There hasn't been much buzz about his play in other ways as well. Considering such a large chunk of this year was lost to his injury (think Rylan Kaip) I wouldn't be surprised to see Bruneteau spend another year in the USHL despite his age.

Anonymous said...

It struck me a couple of years ago how much Sioux hockey is run more like an NHL franchise than a typical college program.

I can see the Sioux faithful wanting to see another Toews as soon as they can, not that that is a Hakstol consideration.


Goon said...

I don't see Toews doing anything but being a regular contributer that will make an IMMEDIATE IMPACT on the Sioux line up. Let me just say that he will be playing on one of the tops lines for UND next season. There will be room made for blue chippers like Toews, Mike Cichy and Jason Gregoire. There is no way that these top of the line players are going to be sitting in the stands for likes Martins, Miller or Forney.

Anonymous said...

Rereading my post, I can see where it could have been taken two ways. What I meant to say was that Hakstol would do what is best for the Sioux program rather than bringing in someone who isn't ready to placate fans.

I have little doubt that Toews will be an impact player whether it is in 2008 or 2009.