As you're probably already aware, we've started the "Meet the Freshmen" series here on Bucky's 5th Quarter where we'll be introducing you to a couple of incoming hockey freshmen every week leading up to the Badgers season opener October 7th versus Northern Michigan at the Kohl Center. We've already featured goalie Landon Peterson, defensemen Jake McCabe, and forward Brendan Woods. Today the spotlight is on freshman forward Brad Navin.
Navin comes to campus straight out of high school hockey where he put up video game numbers for Waupaca. Navin, who turned 19 in June recorded a remarkable 92 points in 25 games as a junior for a 3.68 points per game average two seasons ago. Last year in what is remarkable to me, registered a higher points per game rate with 3.71 points per game. Through 14 games the 6'3, 195 pound Navin had already notched 52 points. Unfortunately Navin's high school season would end after 14 games when he suffered a knee injury in a game against Tomahawk. Navin sprained his MCL during the game and missed the rest of the high school season. He was able to return after the high school season was over and play with Team Wisconsin in the senior tournament.
Last year Navin had a serious decision to make on where he would play hockey. Sioux City of the USHL owned his rights and put the pressure on the left handed center to make the jump to junior hockey. With a scholarship to Wisconsin in hand, Navin chose to play for Team Wisconsin in the Upper Midwest Elite Leauge and for his high school team. Despite his injury during the high school season, Navin's play during the Elite League with 30 points in 24 games gave scouts enough confidence to consider him an NHL prospect. The Buffalo Sabres liked what they saw out of him and made him their 7th round selection.
As a Wisconsin kid, it was always Navin's dream to be a Wisconsin Badger. Navin's recruitment really started heating up after a monster junior season and it came down to the Badgers, Ohio State, and Bemidji State. I was able to interview Navin after his decision and he told me that in the end, the lure of the home town team was just to much to pass up:
"It's a dream come true. I've grown up watching and going to Badger games and have always wanted to be a Badger. Also it doesn't get any better to have my family and friends so close so they can come to watch. Nothing better than playing for your home state."
Like previously mentioned, Navin was selected in the 7th round of the most recent NHL draft by the Buffalo Sabres but some scouting services had Navin ranked higher. Bluechip bulletin ranked Navin as the #99 available prospect in the draft landing him somewhere between the third and fourth rounds. Here is what Bluechip had to say about Navin:
"Hard skater, accurate shot, head and shoulders above the rest of the players on the ice every time he played. Plays a very smart game, though I’m waiting to see what he can do against tougher competition. Made his way onto this list because he was the only draft-eligible player to have no zero-point games and 100% multi-point games – he scored more than one point in every game he played this past season. Averaged over two goals a game."
Navin was able to participate in the Sabres prospects camp this summer and by all reports looked to be back to 100% after the knee injury that cut his senior season short. Hockey's Future profiled Navin and seem to be intrigued by the Sabres 7th round selection:
"Navin is a straight-ahead, power-type forward who creates scoring opportunities with his drive and hard, accurate shot. While his stickhandling and skating agility are areas that will need to improve for him to succeed at both the college and pro levels, he moves well for a player of his stature and relishes playing in tight areas and along the walls. One of the rare 18-year-olds to make the move directly from high school to college hockey, Navin should benefit from the competitive atmosphere and high skill level of the Wisconsin program. "
Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves also talked about what you can expect of the skilled center:
"Brad Navin is a prototypical power forward. He's 6-2 and skates really well for a big man. He also shoots the puck a ton. He likes to go into the corner and get to hard areas, so he'll bring that type of game to our lineup."
With a severe lack of scorers back for the Badgers this season theres an outstanding chance that Navin will be presented with opportunities early and often to contribute offensively. Navin has always been a big time scorer and has never had an issue finding the back of the net. Goal scoring is one of the biggest question marks this team has and that's the biggest reason Navin was brought in this season. He was originally a 2012 recruit but with Jordy Murray's unexpected departure to Switzerland, Eaves chose to bring in a player who hopefully could help put some points on the board.
Navin's playing time is going to be correlated with how quickly he can pick up the defensive zone coverages that the Badgers employ. As we learned with players like Michael Davies, even the most talented offensive players will be in suits on game days if they aren't willing to help out in their own zone. I'm not saying Navin is like Davies defensively, just that he's never had the d-zone responsibilities like the ones that the Badgers use when he was playing high school hockey.
The Brad Navin File:
- Last Team: Waupaca high school & Team Wisconsin
- Hometown: Waupaca, Wisconsin
- Size: 6'3, 195
- Handed: Left
- NHL Draft rights: Buffalo Sabres
- Last seasons stats: 14 games, 29 goals, 23 assists, 52 points
- Twitter account: @BNavin92
- 2011-2012 projection: Navin played center in high school but most likely will start out on a wing if Eaves uses him on a scoring line to start the season. With the Badgers lack of returning goal scorers I do think that Navin should be close to an every night player for Wisconsin right out of the gates and he'll surprise some people with his scoring ability. 35 games, 10 goals, 7 assists, 17 points.
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