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June 29, 2012

Michigan loses freshman defenseman to the OHL

Incoming freshman defenseman Connor Carrick will not enroll at Michigan this fall, instead choosing to sign with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, he confirmed to TheWolverine.com this morning. Carrick is the second defection this summer and the 21st since 2000 …

The 5-10, 197-pounder committed to U-M on March 13, 2010, during his sophomore year of high school, and seemed exactly like the kind of talent that would thrive in a college setting for four years.

Carrick was a fifth-round selection of the Washington Capitals over the weekend, and didn't seem like a threat to leave U-M, but had a change of heart.

"It was nothing that Michigan did or didn't do," Carrick shared with TheWolverine.com. "I had a good relationship with them, Coach [Billy] Powers especially, and the phone call wasn't easy, but I felt it was the most respectful thing to do with what I am doing. They were very classy about it. Wished me the best of luck. I hope they're successful and have a great team next year, but unfortunately I won't be a part of it."

Carrick decision wasn't about money (with the OHL/CHL it rarely is - the monthly stipend is minimal) but about the opportunity to develop his game.

"Everything the OHL has to offer from hockey perspective is exciting," he said. "The idea of playing the amount of games we will [68 in the regular season vs. 36 for college hockey], is exciting. I'll have the chance to play the style of game I want. And then Plymouth is very well respected with a great head coach in Coach [Michael] Vellucci.

"This was a situation where all the pieces fell into place. I'm not going to have to billet. My brothers will be playing hockey in Michigan and my family is looking at apartments. I can still go to class and work towards my degree.

"Everything about the move just fit better than at Michigan."

Carrick actually wanted to have his decision made weeks ago, prior to the NHL Draft, so that any interested NHL team could be completely aware of his immediate hockey future. However, he just wasn't ready to pull the trigger, mulling over his decision until he was sure.

"No one has ever said that I'm a sure-fire NHL player, but I want to play in the NHL so bad and I feel like I need to develop at a better rate than I am currently, and I will be able to do that at Plymouth better than I could at Michigan," he said.

"This decision gives me the best opportunity to reach my dream, but I'm not abandoning my education. I do very well in school and I'm going to get my degree some day.

"The thing I was thinking about, though, was even if I went to college, if you want to play in the NHL, you're likely only there two years, three - very few guys stay four years and play in the NHL, and ask any guy that goes to college at a program like Michigan and he hopes to get his shot faster than that.

"So even if I went to Michigan, I don't think I'd be there all four years, so this is a chance for me to really improve on the hockey side and then academically, it doesn't change much for me because either way I probably wasn't going to get my degree in four years."

The Maize and Blue have now suffered two early departures this offseason, first losing forward Chris Brown on March 29. The 6-2, 194-pound Brown was a second-round selection of the Coyotes in the 2009 NHL Draft (the No. 36 overall pick) and signed with Phoenix, voiding his senior season. In 125 games over his three seasons, he scored 34 goals and had 46 helpers.

U-M also graduated starting goalie Shawn Hunwick, defenseman Greg Pateryn, and forwards David Wohlberg and Luke Glendening from last year's team.

Though both departures hurt, Michigan will return 11 forwards (and has signed four), giving them 15 for 12 spots in the lineup, and has eight defensemen set to compete for six starting spots. However, that is if the Maize and Blue roster stays intact for the next two months, and both Trouba and sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe are both candidates to leave.

Though Carrick, who is very close to Trouba, expects his friend to play for the Wolverines.

"I just talked to him before I got on the phone with you and he said he's excited to go to Michigan," Carrick relayed. "It's not like we had a plan to do this together. He wished me the best of luck, and I believe in every sense of his commitment, that he will stick with it.

"The guy that know him best, his friends, think he'll stick with it, and that's great news for Michigan because he's an unbelievable player and a great person, and he'll make a big impact there.

"The fact is, Michigan will still be Michigan in 2012-13, and that won't change with me decommitting."

For the inside scoop on Trouba's decision, click here.




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