It was a long, uncertain summer for Buckeye hockey fans. After Mark Osiecki was canned, they wondered what would become of the program. Spirits were particularly low over the summer as they watched some of Ohio State’s best recruits decommit, one after another.
While Steve Rohlik and company have allayed many of the fans’ fears about the Buckeyes’ on-ice product, there were still concerns about the staff’s ability to draw commitments from top shelf players. They’ve been hard at work replacing the decommittments and stockpiling future talent. If it’s too early to definitively declare them a success, we can at least say that they’ve recruited some exciting players. The program’s future isn’t nearly as bleak as fans may have feared.
There are currently eleven players who have made commitments to play for Ohio State. Four have signed National Letter of Intent and are projected to join the team for the 2014-15 season. The other seven have made official verbal commitments. They are scheduled to join OSU for the 2015-16 season or later. It all depends on the needs of the player or those of the Buckeyes. It isn’t unusual for a player to come earlier or later than supposed.
Here’s a brief look at each recruit’s vitals, stats, and (when available) the particular assets they bring to their teams.
Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 175 lbs. Age: 17
Busch was recently rated a "C" prospect (latter round choice) in Central Scouting's early rankings for the 2014 NHL draft. Saints head coach Jason McKee was complimentary in his comments following Busch's commitment to the Buckeyes:
"Tyler is a big, strong player, with a high level of compete within in him. Tyler has fit in very well with the Saints and is very deserving to play in a prestigious program such as Ohio State…"
Chicago Mission (HPHL)
Height: 5’7” Weight: 141 lbs. Age: 16
Dhooghe is tied for most points in his league (with Tanner Laczynski) and is the runaway leader in goals. An interesting note about those goals: According to the HPHL’s stats, not a single one of them has come on the power play. Dhooghe describes his own game in this interview. The folks at USHR offered this scouting report after he attended the US Select 15 camp in the summer of 2012:
“Small, crafty forward is fun to watch and makes a lot of things happen with the puck on his stick.”
Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 185 lbs. Age: 17
Letter of Intent
Despite missing some time while playing for Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge, Jones leads the AJHL in points, including the six he hung on the Canmore Eagles last week. He's another "C" player in Central Scouting's preliminary 2014 NHL Draft rankings. Crusaders coach Tim Fragle sums up Jones' game thusly:
“He is a competitor that has a very structured two-way game and a tremendous work ethic.”
Chicago Mission (HPHL)
Height: 5’10” Weight: 161 lbs. Age: 16
Laczynski is presently tied for most points in his league along with teammate and fellow Buckeye commit Jason Dhooghe. Michael Cavallini, director of the Mission hockey program, had this (among other things) to say about him following last season:
“He’s a complete player, good at everything. If we’re up a goal with a minute left, we can put him on the ice to help us defensively. If we’re down a goal, we want him out there to help us offensively.”
Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Height: 5’10” Weight: 167 lbs. Age: 19
Tim from Black and Blue: The Official Unofficial Lincoln Stars Blog had this to say after the Stars acquired Lampasso in August:
“He's a bit on the small side (5'9", 165 pounds), but he plays much bigger than that. More importantly, he has soft hands and along with his speed, is more than capable of being a top 6 forward for the Stars this upcoming season… Everything I've heard about Lampasso from Sioux City and Des Moines fans has been positive. For the most part, I've been told Christian is a very hard worker on the ice, gives 100% each shift, and has speed to burn.”
Notre Dame Acad. Tritons (Wisconsin Prep)
Height: 5’9” Weight: 155 lbs. Age: 16
(Elite Prospects doesn't have stats for Wisconsin Prep. These are from the WPH website.)
McCormick's 21 points are good for second-most in the conference. Nine of those points (four goals and five assists) came in the Tritons’ 26-0 shellacking of Manitowac last month. He's the brother of current Buckeye Max McCormick, but as Notre Dame Academy coach Cory Cracken points out, he isn’t riding the coattails of his brother’s success:
"(Sam) lived, ate and breathed hockey all summer long to put himself in a position to have the success he is having now. It doesn't come by having the last name of McCormick. It comes from all the work he is putting in."
Muskegeon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 185 lbs. Age: 18
Letter of Intent
Moeser is one of the Buckeyes' more experienced recruits. He was rated a "C" player (latter round choice) in NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings for the 2014 Draft. He's represented Team Germany on several occasions and it looks as though he'll do so once again when the World Juniors get underway next week.
Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 182 lbs. Age: 19
Miller is ninth in the league's scoring chart. You can check out a couple of his goal in this video. He was also rated a "C" player in Central Scouting's preliminary 2014 Draft rankings. Oil Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau has high praise for one of his top scorers:
“He’s a very skilled hockey player. Offensively he does a lot of things with his vision skill that guys just can’t do at this level. Ohio State sees him as a top-six contributor at some point in their program. He’s been an all-around player for us this year but the thing that stands out is his ability to create offence."
Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
Height: 6’0” Weight: 180 lbs. Age: 18
Letter of Intent
Stork is the fourth future Buckeye to earn a "C" rating from Central Scouting, on the scouts' radar for the 2014 NHL draft. They had great things to say about him on The Pipeline Show earlier this year, noting that he's "a pain to play against" and that he always stood out in a good way when watching the Phantoms play last season. Oh, and Stork can do this (fast forward to 0:57 and then look for No. 27 in the dark jersey):
Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Height: 5’10” Weight: 185 lbs Age: 18
Letter of Intent
The Hockey Writers profiled Weis prior to the 2013 Draft. It's well worth the read. USHR has described him as a non-flashy player who "just goes about his business" making smart plays. Russ Bitely rated Weis a "B" skater and gave this scouting report following Weis' participation in the US Select 17 Festival:
"(Weis) definitely has some above-average stick skills as showed great poise with puck in traffic and around the net. He skates with some good speed but does not have that explosive, high-end top gear. He has great offensive abilities and is quite dangerous around the net. He has a scoring touch along with good playmaking ability."
Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
Height: 5’11” Weight: 165 lbs. Age: 18
Prior to the start of the 2012-13 season USHR named him one of the top 25 uncommitted players in the USHL:
Quick and shifty. Protects the puck well and has the ability to beat defenders 1x1.