View From Section U: Where Are All The Recruits?

Last September I wrote that despite there being only two committed recruits to the program for 2012 and none for future years that it wasn’t time to panic.  UMass’ imbalanced classes and the fact that, on average, players committed about 13 months before their class arrives at Amherst were the reasons I cited.  Well here we are five months later and UMass has added just one recruit in that time, Springfield Pics forward Willie Smith for 2014.  The more time that drags on the more I wonder and more I worry.  Not only are the other Hockey East teams lining up players all the way through 2016, but another thing that’s changed is it’s unknown what type of impact the two incoming recruits for next year will have on the team.  Shane Walsh split his season between the USHL and EJHL but has the type of game where it’s tough to measure from afar by statistics alone.  Kenny Gillespie, who it was hoped could contribute offensively as a freshman, has spent most his time on the third line in the USHL scoring just three goals on the season.  First things first, let’s take a look at where UMass stands with their future needs:

2012 2013 2014 2015
Open Roster Spots 3 4 13 8
Commitments 2 0 1 0

UMass has four players that will be honored at senior night next week; T.J. Syner, Danny Hobbs, Mike Marcou, and Kevin Moore.  Obviously goaltender is not one of the team needs right now so likely the coaches will only look to bring in three players.  So far they only have two.  But it’s not next year that worries me.  Yes, it’s a question mark as to how those two will play, but obviously the coaches saw something in them so we’ll just have to have faith.  And for that last spot the staff has always been able to pick up recruits late in the season that have worked out, guys like Casey Wellman and Branden Gracel.  It’s the future years that really worry me.  In that next year the team will look to fill the spots of Rocco Carzo, Eddie Olczyk, Darren Rowe, and Kevin Czepiel.  Two of those guys are obviously regular players and the other two have played recently in key games.  Right now there are no players lined up as replacements.  The year after that what happens when our huge sophomore class is gone?  UMass will look to fill 13 roster spots.  13!  Here’s how other schools commits breakout. This is based on Chris Heisenberg’s site. When a player is listed as possible arriving at the school in two years, I’ve taken the earlier :

BC BU Lowell Maine Mack UNH NU PC UVM UMass
2012 7 8 10 10 6 9 6 9 8 2
2013 7 7 1 7 4 5 5 4 3 0
2014 0 1 0 1 1 2 1 0 0 1
2015 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
2016 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 16 16 11 18 11 17 13 13 11 3
Now obviously the most glaring thing that sticks out from the table above is that every team has at least 8 committed recruits more than UMass at this given point in time.  Some of that has to do with the imbalanced classes that has almost half the UMass roster as sophomores.  But still, it’s a little startling anyway.  UMass will has 7 spots to fill in the next two years, so far they only have two commitments for that time.  Meanwhile 116 other players have committed to other Hockey East schools for that time period.  UMass will need a ton of players in the two years after.  At least close to 20.  10 players have committed to Hockey East schools for that time period.  Only one to UMass.  UNH already has more players committed to come to school in 2014 and 2015 than the Minutemen have this coming year and the next.  All this evidence leads me to believe that the UMass program is falling behind in recruiting.  And at the very least, even if they find the bodies to fill the slots they’ve missed out on some very talented players who have committed elsewhere earlier.  Those early commits do not always pan out.  But a lot of them do.  I always feel it’s important to have a good mix of early commits and late bloomers that come into the picture later on, but right now things are setting up to be nearly all of the latter kind.
So if UMass is falling behind when it comes to recruiting, why is that?  Losing Red Gendron, whom a lot of currently players credited with helping them decide on UMass, has not helped.  I had hoped when Blaise MacDonald was added to the staff that the recruiting would benefit the most as he had continually brought in quality players to the Lowell program.  So far that hasn’t happened.  The one commitment that the program has gotten since he came on is Willie Smith, a player from down the road in Springfield coached by former UMass captain Rob Bonneau.  That’s not exactly scouring the countryside for diamonds in the rough.  Another factor has to be the status of coach Toot Cahoon.  I still think he’ll be back despite the fact that UMass is likely heading towards another finish at the bottom of Hockey East and the growing call from the fanbase for a coaching change.  But that’s just my opinion based on what I’ve observed and people I’ve talked to.  It’s not a certainty.  And even if he does come back for the final year of his contract, what happens after that is anyone’s guess.  Could he choose to retire?  If the team finishes in the bottom half of the league again does the administration make a change?  Without knowing if a coach will be at the school to start the 2013-2014 season will make it hard to get kids to commit to the school for that timeframe.
Whatever the case is, it would be great to see some names pop up on the Heisenberg site for UMass.  It certainly hasn’t been for lack of effort.  The staff is out there recruiting players,bringing them onto campus, and making offers.  Like Doyle Somerby who just committed to BU recently, they’re choosing to go elsewhere.  The lack of recruits is doubtful to hurt the team next year as the current crop of sophomores continue to develop into hopefully a strong junior class and the two current freshmen goaltenders play with confidence with a year under their belts.  But the year after that worries me.  The current sophomores could make for a spectacular senior class but they’ll need quality minutes from the underclassmen at that time if the team really wants to be successful.  That’s what the lack of current recruiting means.  There’s no doubt that this sophomore class is tremendously talented.  But it would be awful that subpar classes that should be committing now holds them back from accomplishing really special as they continue through the program.
The Pond Club has announced that this year’s Reverse Raffle will be held on Friday, March 30th.  The cost is just $115 for you and a guest to enjoy food. open bar, hanging with other UMass hockey fans, open bar, and a chance to win $5,000 and some other great prizes.  Oh, and open bar.  I absolutely look forward to it every year.  While it doesn’t appear they’ve been able to upload the info and form to the Pond Club site or UMassathletics.com yet I at least wanted to get the date out there so people could plan accordingly.  I’ll be sure to link to the info as soon as it’s available.
Alex Faust on the Northeastern student radio station has a comprehensive view of the playoff scenarios from the Huskies’ perspective.
About these ads
Previous Post

19 Comments

  1. Justin

     /  February 22, 2012

    Jesus…that’s some grim reading there.

  2. Anonymous

     /  February 22, 2012

    This is what happens when the head coach is only under contract for one more year – players don’t want to sign up for the unknown. It also is probably a pretty safe bet other coaches are using this to sway recruits away from UMass.

  3. Will

     /  February 22, 2012

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the possibility of players leaving early in the coming years. We obviously don’t have any James Marcous or Casey Wellmans, but could a player like Pereira leave early at the prospect of signing with an AHL team? I honestly don’t know what the full process is or if they would consider it, so if you could lend some insight, that would be great. Thanks! Good post, too. Grim, but interesting.

    • I honestly have no idea. The good news is I haven’t heard anything about anyone leaving. The rumors about Marcou exploring a pro contract started his sophomore year and by the end of his junior it seemed like a given. The whole Wellman thing was a complete circus, by his own doing, and unnecessary distraction to the team for his whole sophomore season and it was known he was gone ASAP (maybe a few weeks too late). But on the other hand Matt Irwin leaving came completely out of nowhere. Justin Braun is a guy who could’ve left after his junior year and probably done fine, but he came back. You never really know. Specifically with Pereira I certainly don’t think he’s ready for the NHL and shame on the NHL if they’re suggesting he is, but if he, or anyone else, is done with the school thing then they may move on.

      I’ve come to the point where I’ve accepted that the possibility of losing good players is unfortunately a product of the current poor relationship between the NHL, NCAA, and major junior and a risk that comes with having talented players. There’s really not much anyone can do about it right now, so I try not to spend time worrying about it. It happens to pretty much all college teams nowadays.

      • Will

         /  February 23, 2012

        Thanks, that makes sense. I was a freshman in Marcou’s final season so I saw the games but wasn’t fully in the scoop on him leaving until it happened. This year I did have a chance to chat with him at the Providence rink during break and let him know he was a major reason I started to watch hockey. Even players with similar point totals now don’t quite excite me the way he did.

        If Sheary and Pereira continue to improve, they could put up some serious points in the coming years if they find a strong center (I have been very pleased with Guzzo). Who knows if that line would click, but either way it’s nice to see we could continue to improve offensively despite losing TJ and Hobbs.

  4. Mel

     /  February 23, 2012

    Depressing reading. Thanks. Hopefully next year will be a decent year.

  5. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    Thanks for this good review. I’ve been wondering what’s been going on as I’ve watched the Twitter reports pile up as recruits commit to other schools. Hopefully we’ll get some good news soon, starting with some points this weekend.

  6. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    The sky is falling…the sky is falling. Great research on your article but let’s talk facts!
    Early commitments can be nice but many times they don’t work out…real studs may decide to bypass college (OHL etc), or change their minds on their school or many just never live up to the hype. Isnt it February 23 today? Let’s look at the last couple years, Phillips, Gracel and Power all committed after April 1 of 2010, and last year Auvenshine didn’t commit until May. All of those players have been intregal to the team. Whereas the early commits from 2010, John Parker, Chris DelMauro for example never came to UMass, and DeAngelo and Filiou, two other early commits, as far as Im concerned the jury is still out on, especially Filiou. I do agree that Red will be missed on the recruiting trail, but I think that “uncertainty” about the Coach is over-rated. Coaches move on or are fired, that’s the nature of the business, and the players know this. If they are committing to a school simply because who the coach is, are those REALLY the type of player you want representing UMass? Not me, I want kids that go to UMass because its a great school with great facilities, and because they want to grow and be all they can be. Love the blog, Go UMass!!

    • Thanks for your comment. Like I said in my post, I think you need a mix of early and late commits to help mitigate the risks that come with both groups. With guys like Wellman or Gracel you have someone like James Marcou who committed 3 1/2 years before arriving on campus. My earlier analysis showed that players committed on average roughly a year and a half before arriving. By that measure we should’ve seen some commits for Fall of 2013. We haven’t. That’s what worries me. Lack of commits for fall of 2014 worries me only for sheer numbers of players we need for the roster that year, but there’s still time for that class.

      If you haven’t, please read the post from Sept I linked to because it makes a lot of the same observations you do.

      It’s not the end of the world but I think there’s enough for UMass fans to start to worry.

  7. H. Ahlskog

     /  February 23, 2012

    News might well not be nearly as bad as it would seem; perhaps, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for it will be true, that Toot and his assistants might not be back next year and certainly not beyond next year. And that both UMass and Toot have already settled on one of these two options.

    The change will not be seamless. The new staff will have a lot of recruiting to do and it will take time to get the program up to snuff; but they will have their own players.

  8. George

     /  February 23, 2012

    Rocks, what a great piece. It shows you continue to put hard work and time into your blog and I for one (and many I know) appreciate it.

    Just some thoughts & observations:

    1) Toot is contracted through 2012-13 as we all know and unless he has some health issue, he is not going anywhere next year. Sources say he continues to churn out high grade students and without any BU type incidents here, the administration is happy with the hockey program. Most of us know that is not good enough in the win and loss department for the fans who are not interested in success measured in the world of academia alone, but John McCutcheon and crew are obviously more committed to basketball and football. There is no debating that.

    2) Unless Michael Pereira bulks up 20+ pounds, he will be in Amherst for 4 years.

    3) Don’t let the Maine beer cloud your judgement! I think there is a goaltending problem. Boyle looked to be the guy when the new calendar went up in January, but like this team, there has been so many inconsistencies. You saw a great game by him in Orono last Saturday. But the fact that Toot truly hasn’t settled on a starter, based on WHO has been playing in goal in 2012 means there is a goaltending issue.

    4) You mention the loss of Rocco Carzo, Eddie Olczyk, Darren Rowe, and Kevin Czepiel. Does that truly worry you? Again, first hand you got to see a pretty goal by Carzo on your visit, but none of these four start for MOST other Hockey East teams. Czepiel can penalty kill, but he has the scoring touch of Danny Hobbs…..actually no wait Danny at least has some size to get those “dirty” goals as so many people like to label the UMass offense (correctly). Czepiel is a good PK guy, but that is about it. The others numbers speak for themselves

    Again thanks for the great work you do Rocks. I always enjoy reading.

    • Thanks George. Just to clarify:

      1) As I’ve written, I agree about Toot sticking around to at least the end of his contract.
      2) THat’s my feeling as well.
      3) Both Boyle and Mastalerz have shown that they can play well enough to be good in this league. They just need to get consistent. I think they’ll continue to improve and whoever improves the fastest should be the starter. Unfortunately for Teglia, he looks like the odd man out at this point.
      4) No matter what you think of our current juniors the fact is two of them play significant minutes and those minutes and roles need to be replaced by incoming players.

      • Carson

         /  February 23, 2012

        I agree with pereira needing to gain weight in order to play in the next level, but you cannot take away that this kid has close to 20 goals with a team at the bottom of hockey east. I don’t think you can write that off. Obviously there has to be some sort of interest from teams looking at him since he went through the draft processes. He’s a sophomore and has 17 goals on the year. I think size or not the kid can obviously play. Stats prove for themselves. Just adding more to his frame will obviously do him a number to his game, but he’s still young. Can’t write him off just like that

        • I’m not saying he doesn’t have talent. I’m just saying he’s not close to NHL ready, due to his body size. If he leaves UMass early it’s for the AHL. Not sure why anyone would do that unless they’re sick of going to class.

        • Carson

           /  February 23, 2012

          This was not posted by the usual Carson :) there’s another one!!

  9. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2012

    heard past recruit dion lefebrve (canadian defensemen) is on campus “redshirting”
    and will be eligble to play fall 2012 and he is very skilled and has size….
    potential recruits listening need to know umass is an awesome place w/ great fans and great facilities….go umass punish unh this weekend!

    • Great to hear he’s back at UMass and working on his education but I wouldn’t count on him having much of an impact on the team.

  1. Forum Frenzy : Forum Futures – USHL Recruits, Cape Cod Classic; Where Are They Now – Jimmy Hayes? | The Beanpot Forum
  2. Stack Commits to UMass « Fear The Triangle – UMass Hockey Blog
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,178 other followers

%d bloggers like this: