Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Falling Number of Wisconsinites in the USHL for Next Season?

I got comments from one or two anonymous posters worrying about the number of Wisconsinites in the USHL since they felt 7 Wisconsin players drafted was not enough. When I mentioned the situation looks a little different if you consider that there were 5 Wisconsinites taken in the USHL Futures Draft in October, 2006 and that two high school players joined USHL teams at the end of their high school season this year, I was still told Wisconsin's performance in terms of getting kids into the USHL for next season was lacking. So, let's take a closer look.

Here's the list of Wisconsin kids that played the entire season (or close to it) in the USHL:

Green Bay
Defenseman Derrick La Point-Committed to North Dakota for 2007
Defenseman Ryan Little-Committed to Wisconsin for 2008
Forward Mike Sislo-Committed to New Hampshire for 2007
Goaltender Nick Graves

Forward Brent Gwidt

Defenseman Ross Henry
Forward Patrick Johnson-Committed to UW for 2007

Forward Matt Thurber-Committed to Wisconsin for 2008
Defenseman Garrett Suter (out for season w/shoulder injury)

Forward Justin Cseter

Sioux Falls
Defenseman Sam Zabkowicz-Committed to St. Cloud State for 2007
Forward David Solway-Committed to Bowling Green for 2007
Forward Jacob Drewiske
Forward Patrick Tiesling-Committed to Bolwing Green for 2007

Defenseman Kyle Ensign-Committed to Nebraska Omaha for 2008
Defenseman Luke Lucyk
Forward Sean Wiles

Defenseman Blake Kessel-Committed to New Hampshire for 2008
Forward Brett Olson
Forward Josh Turnbull-Committed to Wisconsin for 2007
Forward Craig Smith-Committed to Wisconsin for 2008 or 2009
Forward Keegan Meuer

Seven of these players are moving on to Division 1 schools. Luke Lucyk appears to be the only player who runs out of eligibility due to age. That brings the total number of Wisconsin players leaving the USHL to at least eight.

Travis Erstad and Justin Johnson will become full-time members of their USHL squads next season, while there were seven Wisconsinites drafted in the regular draft as well as Brock Montpetit, Taylor Kuypers, Eric Springer and Seth Soley who were all selected in the USHL Futures draft in October of 2006 (Pat Johnson was also selected, but will be a Badger next season). On top of that, you've got to account for players that make teams via tryouts that were not drafted. Just two examples, both from this past season, are Blake Kessel and Cole Holmes who both made teams after neither were drafted.

I think that based on the numbers and examples I've provided, Wisconsin has a pretty good shot at replacing the 8 guys expected to be exiting the USHL this offseason.