One of the first things that Wisconsin head hockey coach Mike Eaves talked about when he took over the Badger program was that he wanted to try and balance the recruiting classes. Under former coach Jeff Sauer, classes became unbalanced which causes years with large turnover that can cripple a program.
Ten years later, Eaves is still working on that balance. Unfortunately with the state of the National hockey League, college players on entry level contracts have become more and more in demand. That's hurt programs like Wisconsin who produce NHL players on a regular basis. Players like Kyle Turris, Derek Stepan and Craig Smith are signing NHL deals much earlier than was projected when they had originally committed.
That brings us to the current recruiting class. With the unbalanced classes and early departures, Wisconsin only has one senior on the current roster, defenseman Eric Springer. With three forwards, and a pair of defensemen tentatively committed for the next season, it was a major question as to how that was supposed to work. A few of those questions were answered this week.
The NCAA early fall signing period opens on Wednesday and runs for one week. Andy Baggot from the Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that the Badgers are expected to sign two of the forwards and 1 of the defensemen.
The two forwards are Nic Kerdiles from the USA National team Development Program, and Morgan Zulinick from Salmon Arm of the British Columbia Hockey League. Kerdiles is arguably the #1 forward recruit in the country and a projected first round NHL draft pick, and Zulinick is expected to be an immediate impact center for the Badgers.
The other committed forward that won't be signing a letter of intent this week is Corbin McGuire from the Jersey Hitmen of the EJHL. Corbin originally committed to Wisconsin a few years ago but has had his development stall a bit, partially due to an injury that cost him the first half of last season.
McGuire told Bucky's 5th Quarter that he's still committed to Wisconsin but will now be a 2013 recruit for the Badgers.
"Coach Eaves called me Sunday and told me that he had talked to all the coaches and my coaches in junior and they all thought another year in juniors would be very beneficial to my development."
The 5'8, 185 pound winger from Ridgefield, CT started last season with Fargo in the USHL but eventually was loaned out to the EJHL after he missed the first few months with a concussion.
"Coach Eaves made it clear that I would keep all of my scholarship and that the decision was strictly a numbers thing and not based on if I was ready to play college hockey next year or not," McGuire noted Tuesday. "He said another year of juniors will give me the chance to become even more of an impact player my freshman year."
This week the Badgers are also expected to sign defenseman Kevin Schulze, who currently plays for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Schulze committed to Wisconsin at the end of the summer after an outstanding high school career at Hill Murray high school in the twin cities.
It's unclear at this point if the other committed defenseman, Tim Davison from Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay will be a 2012 or 2013 recruit but he will not sign a letter of intent this week. It's been the opinion of many that Davison could use a full season in the USHL next year to work on his play against bigger, faster, and more skilled players.
When contacted on Tuesday, Davison was unsure of the current plan. "As of now it is still up in the air."
Springer is graduating, and Schulze will take that spot. Although it's expected that Justin Schultz will sign a pro contract and John Ramage could do the same.
Things look somewhat fluid from a defense recruit standpoint, so stay tuned.
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