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Wisconsin hockey: The Mike Eaves era all-decommit team

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Brock Boeser's recent commitment to North Dakota has spurred memories of past decommitments from the Wisconsin hockey program.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you missed the news a few weeks back, one-time Wisconsin recruit Brock Boeser announced that he will be playing college hockey at North Dakota. To no one's surprise, that sparked a lot of spirited discussion amongst the Badgers faithful.

It also got me thinking (that's a scary thought, I know) about all of the recruiting decommitments during the Mike Eaves era in Madison. By my count there are 12 players that had committed to play for Wisconsin, but for one reason or another, never made it to campus.

Without further ado, I present to you the Mike Eaves era all-decommit team.

Forward -- Christian Dvorak

Headshot

Current Team

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

London Knights (OHL)

Center

Left

6'0

190

NHL Draft

Hometown

DOB

2nd Round, No. 58 overall (Arizona Coyotes)

Frankfort, Ill.

2/2/1996

The Badgers earned a verbal commitment from Chicago Mission forward Christian Dvorak after winning a recruiting battle in August of 2012 over Michigan State, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, New Hampshire, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

Dvorak had a change of heart exactly one year later, as the Illinois native signed a contract with the London Knights of the OHL, forfeiting his NCAA eligibility in the process.

Last year, as a rookie in the OHL, Dvorak got off to a slow start with the Knights, notching just 14 points in 33 games before tearing his ACL. Dvorak has taken off in his second season in the league, recording 40 goals and 103 points in 59 games. Dvorak ranks sixth in the OHL in goals, assists and is third in total points.

In case you were wondering, Dvorak would be a freshman this season if he had kept his commitment to Wisconsin.

Forward -- Brock Boeser

Player Photo

Current Team

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

Right Wing

Right

6'1

192

NHL Draft

Hometown

DOB

Projected 1st Round

Burnsville, Minn.

2/25/1997

When Brock Boeser committed to Wisconsin in May of 2013 during the spring of his sophomore year of high school, I'm not sure any of us expected him to change his mind. Boeser took recruiting trips to Michigan and Minnesota before committing to the UW, but the Burnsville, Minn., native grew up a Badgers fan, and his cousin, Dan, played for Wisconsin and was a captain for Mike Eaves as a senior.

That all changed in November, when Boeser, who is one of the leading scorers in the USHL this year with the Waterloo Black Hawks, re-opened his recruitment. Boeser looked at Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth before announcing his decision to play for the team with no nickname just a few weeks ago.

Boeser is a projected first round NHL Draft pick and will be a freshman for UND next season.

Forward -- Sam Gagner

Sam Gagner

Current Team

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

Arizona Coyotes (NHL)

Center

Right

5'11

202

NHL Draft

Hometown

DOB

1st Round, No. 6 overall (Edmonton Oilers)

London, Ont.

8/10/1989

College hockey recruiting doesn't get a ton of attention, but Sam Gagner was one of the most highly sought-after recruits in recent memory. The son of former NHLer Dave Gagner, Sam committed to Wisconsin after a major recruiting battle against Minnesota, Michigan and Boston University.

At the time, Gagner was considered the crowned jewel of what was to be Wisconsin's best recruiting class in school history. Also committed for that 2007 recruiting class was future first-round NHL Draft picks Kyle Turris (No. 3 overall), Ryan McDonagh (No. 12 overall) and Brendan Smith (No. 27 overall). Cody Goloubef, who would be drafted in the second round of the NHL Draft the following season, was also a member of the 2007 Wisconsin recruiting class.

What seemed too good to be true turned out to be exactly that. The London Knights (seriously, screw the London Knights), hired Gagner's father as an assistant coach. Sam soon followed, signing an OHL agreement to play with Patrick Kane and the Knights. After one season in London, Ganger was drafted No. 6 overall by the Edmonton Oilers and was in the NHL the following season.

Defense -- Patrick Wiercioch

Patrick Wiercioch

Current Team

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

Ottawa Senators (NHL)

Defense

Left

6'5

206

NHL Draft

Hometown

DOB

2nd Round, No. 42 overall (Ottawa Senators)

Burnaby, B.C.

9/12/1990

Patrick Wiercioch was a casualty of Wisconsin's embarrassment of riches. The native of Burnaby, British Columbia originally committed to Wisconsin for the 2009-10 season after a big season in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers. He was slated to play another year in the USHL until Denver recruit David Carle failed his physical at the NHL combine and was forced to retire from hockey.

According to the powers-that-be at DU, Wiercoich reached out to them (you can believe what you want). The Pioneers invited Wiercoich to join Denver for the 2008-09 season, accelerating his timeline to college by one season, and the Ottawa Senators draft pick accepted the offer.

"I just think it's a simple case of how much he developed over this past season and his draft status," DU assistant coach Derek Lalonde said at the time. "He wanted to get his college career going. He was in search of someone and obviously heard of the David Carle situation. We had an opening and are ecstatic and fortunate to find this kind of player at this time of the recruiting process."

Again, believe what you want.

Wiercioch has played 138 games in the NHL, all for the Senators. The 42nd pick in the 2008 NHL draft has recorded 10 goals and 40 assists along the way.

Defense -- Jordan Schmaltz

Current Team

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

North Dakota (NCHC)

Defense

Right

6'2

194

NHL Draft

Hometown

DOB

1st Round, No. 25 overall (St. Louis Blues)

Verona, Wis.

10/08/1993

Jordan started his career in the spotlight with his family leveraging Wisconsin to make a scholarship offer at the age of 14. The Badgers obliged, and Schmaltz made a verbal commitment to the Wisconsin.

Schmaltz soured on the Badgers after UW assistant Mark Osiecki took the head coaching job at Ohio State. After Eaves chose Bill Butters to replace Osiecki, Schmaltz decided to officially decomit from the school.

Jordan would later go on to play at the University of North Dakota. He's now a junior at UND, with 12 goals and 61 points in 116 career games. He was also a first-round NHL Draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Schmaltz's uncles Marc Schmaltz (1988-91) and Monte Schmaltz (1992-93), lettered in football at UND.

The loss of Jordan Schmaltz also cost the Badgers a chance at his younger brother, Nick. Currently a freshman at UND, Nick Schmaltz has 24 points in 29 games and was a first-round NHL Draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Goalie -- Aaron Crandall

CrandallHeadshot

Current Team

Position

Catches

Height

Weight

Colorado Eagles (ECHL)

Goalie

Right

6'1

194

NHL Draft

Hometown

DOB

N/A

Lakeville, Minn.

3/25/1990

Crandall's recruitment was off to a bad start from the beginning. Wisconsin took a chance on him after he led St. Thomas Academy to a Minnesota Class A state title. The following season, his senior year of high school, Crandall left to play for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL.

The results were awful. Crandall finished the season with record of 5-21-2, a save percentage of .882 and a goals-against average of 3.55. Keep in mind, the Gamblers were an awful team that season, but Crandall didn't help.

The following season Crandall was traded to the Des Moines Buccaneers, where he fared even worse, with an .858 save percentage and 5.05 goals-against average.

Eaves and the Wisconsin coaching staff pulled Crandall's scholarship offer but gave him the opportunity to walk-on and earn a scholarship down the road. He declined, and later ended up at Minnesota-Duluth.

In four seasons for the Bulldogs, Crandall finished with a record of 30-23-6 with a save percentage of .895 and a goals-against average of 2.83. Crandall won a national championship in 2011 as the backup behind Kenny Reiter.

Honorable mention:

Forwards:

Brock Montpetit: Montpetit decommitted from Wisconsin in November of 2008. In articles that have since died in the depths of the internet, Montpetit's father claimed the reason for the decommitment was in large part to the actual scholarship papers not saying his offer was 100 percent. While promised a full-ride, the offer on paper was only 90 percent.

While the scholarship excuse was a semi-plausible alibi for the decommitment, most people believe Montpetit looked elsewhere because he wasn't happy former Shattuck-St.Mary's teammates Derek Stepan and Jordy Murray were brought to campus one year before he was. It's also believed Montpetit was concerned about potential playing time during his freshman season, which would have been the 2009-10 season in which Wisconsin played for the national championship.

Montpetit went on to successful four-year career at Nebraska Omaha, where he registered 85 points in 136 career games. After graduation, Montpetit played two games in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but most recently he's spent the past season playing 49 games for Vasteras IK in Sweden.

Travis Erstad: At one point Erstad was ranked as the No. 71 skater by NHL Central Scouting and was later drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the fourth round, No. 100 overall in the 2007 entry draft.

After struggling in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars, Erstad gave up his dream of playing Division I hockey, and instead accepted an offer to play for Division III Stevens Point.

Erstad played three seasons at Stevens Point, notching 15 goals and 23 assists for 38 points in 65 games.

Defensemen:

Nate Hagemo: Many people won't remember this, but Hagemo originally committed to Wisconsin while he was at Holy Angels high school in Minnesota. Hagemo later changed his mind while he was at the National Team Development Program, instead deciding he wanted to play closer to home with the Minnesota Gophers.

Eaves took it in stride at the time, although it was early in his tenure as coach in Madison. Turns out Hagemo decommitting may have been a blessing in disguise.

"To be honest," Eaves said, "It's the risk you take with a 17-year-old boy. They change their minds. It's just part of the risk these days."

It appeared that Hagemo, who was a second-round NHL Draft selection of the Carolina Hurricanes, was going to be an elite player at the collegiate level. His career got sidetracked after suffering a shoulder injury the World Junior Championships. He was never the same player after that, and only played 33 career games in a Minnesota sweater.

Later, Hagemo would run into a host of legal problems.

Nick Pryor: Unfortunately, with Wisconsin's high academic standards, not everyone is able to gain admission to the University. Pryror was an academic casualty after being a long-time commit out of Hill-Murray high school and later the NTDP.

Pryor told us at the time his ACT score was the drawback. He later committed to Maine and spend four years with the Black Bears, playing in 67 games.

Troy Hesketh: The Minnetonka high school defenseman was drafted in the third-round of the NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers and appeared to be a late bloomer with major upside. Hesketh bounced around the USHL before ending up at Division III Hamline, where he played just 19 games before retiring due to concussions. Sources indicated that he, like Pryor, was an academic casualty.

Goalies:

Mike Brodeur: Brodeur's unfortunate situation tuned out to be a positive for Wisconsin in the long run. After playing in a major junior exhibition game and being suspended by the NCAA, the Badgers moved on from Brodeur, finding a goaltender by the name of Brian Elliott from the Ajex Axemen in the Ontario Junior Hockey League

Elliott was outstanding during his Wisconsin career, setting records in many major categories. Brodeur wasn't too bad himself, and even had a few cups of coffee in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators.

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