Waterloo Blackhawk's defenseman Eddie Wittchow passed up an offer to join the Badgers once. He wasn't about to turn them down a second time.
Multiple sources from the USHL have confirmed to Bucky's 5th Quarter that Wittchow has accepted a scholarship offer to join the Badgers next fall. (Edit: Waterloo's official site confirms the commitment.)
The Burnsville, Minnesota native turned down an opportunity to join the Badgers for the current season, instead opting to play a season in the United States Hockey League. With eight defensemen currently on the Wisconsin roster, Wittchow decided a year in Waterloo (who selected him 4th overall in the USHL draft) playing full time would be more beneficial to his development than working through the log jam in Madison.
The 6'4, 200 pound blue-liner comes to Wisconsin having already been drafted in the NHL. Wittchow was selected by the Florida Panthers this past summer in the 6th round, #154 overall.
Through 19 games this season with Waterloo, the self proclaimed "defensive, defenseman" has recorded a goal and five assists and is a +8 in the plus/minus department.
Over the summer Wittchow mentioned receiving interest from Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado College and Ohio State in addition to Wisconsin. Recently it sounds like a few schools out east and maybe some in the CCHA had offered Wittchow as well. It sounds like it may have come down to Wisconsin and Ohio State for Wittchow's services.
Wittchow sort of came out of no where last season and burst onto the scene with a big season for Burnsville high school.
Red Line Report's Kirl Luedeke identified Wittchow as a sleeper for last summers draft on his Bruins 2011 Draft Watch website.
"A plus-skater with tremendous footwork, speed and lateral mobility. He's a smart two-way player who may be on the gangly side, but plays with a mean streak and seems to fit the prototype for what NHL clubs are looking for."
Wittchow will have an opportunity to earn immediate playing time next season for the Badgers. Wisconsin is set to lose defensemen Eric Springer to graduation, and Justin Schultz to the NHL. Junior Captain John Ramage is also a flight risk.
With Wittchow now in the fold, the Badgers are projected to roster eight defensemen next season if you count Ramage.
UPDATE: Waterloo head coach P.K. O'Handley talked about Wittchow's decision today.
“Eddie has the skills to be successful in college and the size to be intriguing to pro general managers,” said Black Hawks coach P.K. O’Handley. “Wisconsin has helped a few Black Hawks get to the NHL, and Eddie could join that list.”
Wittchow joins a recruiting class that includes forwards Nic Kerdiles (U.S. NTDP U18), and Morgan Zulinick (Salmon Arm, BCHL) as well as defenseman Kevin Schulze (Omaha, USHL).
Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!
For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)
Chuck can also be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org