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June 25, 2012The NHL held its annual draft over the weekend and four players with Michigan ties, including sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe, were selected. We examine the implications associated with each of the four picks and their futures at U-M ...
Incoming freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba was the first Wolverine chosen, going ninth overall to the Winnipeg Jets in becoming the 17th player in program history, and the first since forward Max Pacioretty in 2007 (Montreal Canadians), to go in the first round.
Considered by many to be the top American-born defenseman in his age group, Trouba is a 6-2, 193-pounder that possesses everything you want in a blue liner - he plays with a punishing style but he's also a very nifty skater with terrific offensive instincts.
In meeting with the Jets' press, Trouba noted: "I'm a physical two-way defenseman who is pretty responsible in my own end, but at the same time I can bring an offensive side of the game as well."
Trouba also supplied the media with every indication he intends to fulfill his commitment to Michigan, quoted on NHL.com: "I'm exited to get my education under way and play with coach Red Berenson.
"You've got to realize that it's only the first step. You're not really accomplishing anything getting drafted by Winnipeg. My goal is to play in the NHL and play in Winnipeg."
And to that end, he understands he needs time to develop physically, mentally and emotionally, and can best do that at U-M sources tell TheWolverine.com. We put his chances at wearing the winged helmet this season at 90 percent.
On Day Two, Di Giuseppe, incoming freshman forward Boo Nieves and incoming rookie defenseman Connor Carrick heard their names called. Di Giuseppe went to the Carolina Hurricanes with the 38th overall pick in Round 2, while Nieves was also a second-rounder, going to the New York Rangers with the 59th pick. Carrick was a fifth-round choice of the Washington Capitals (No. 137 overall).
Nieves is a minimal threat to turn pro and Carrick is no threat to skip out on Michigan. Di Giuseppe, however, should be under watch from now until school begins the first week of September.
A 6-1, 200-pound left winger from Maple, Ont., Di Giuseppe had 11 goals and 15 assists in 40 games with the Maize and Blue last year. He's the quintessential left winger - big, fast, with outstanding acceleration and natural goal-scoring skills. He was inconsistent last season, going through a 14-game scoring lull at one point, but the talent is there to be a 20-goal scorer in college and a 30- to 40-goal scorer in the pros.
Here's how Tony MacDonald, director of scouting for the Hurricanes describes Di Giuseppe: "He's a skilled winger with a great shot. He's quick, he's smart, he gets involved physically, he doesn't mind going to the net and he plays well in traffic."
Michigan doesn't expect to lose Di Giuseppe, and the young man told TheWolverine.com back in March: "I love it here. I don't want to leave this place. When it comes to the rink, and off ice with the guys, it's just the most fun I've ever had, and I wouldn't want to leave this place for anything.
"A couple weeks ago I was talking to one of my buddies that had a chance to play at Michigan but he was a first-round OHL pick and he decided to play major juniors, like Lucas Lessio did, and he just told me he regrets his decision.
"It's hard being at that young age with the way they come after you and try to sell you that's the 'Canadian way' but I made a great decision to come here, and I wouldn't change it."
However, we heard chatter even before the season concluded that Di Giuseppe had one eye on the OHL and with the right situation could leave U-M early. After the Hurricanes picked him, that talk has only intensified, to the point that we put his chances at returning to Michigan at 50 percent, and would not be surprised in the least if he is playing in the OHL next season.
As for Nieves and Carrick, we put their chances of playing at Michigan at 90 and 100 percent, respectively.
U-M has already lost one of its own to the professional ranks before his eligiblity expired, when forward Chris Brown signed with the Phoenix Coyotes March 29. Brown would have been a senior. He became the 20th Wolverine to leave Michigan prematurely since 2000.
For more hockey talk, visit The Fort.