One of the top incoming college players has made a big decision by deciding to switch schools and join a talented roster at a powerhouse program. Also, yet another National Hockey League team is allowing a European prospect to start the 2020-21 season at home.
Michigan Lands Another Top Prospect
There was some big news in the world of college hockey on Tuesday. Rumors have been swirling around Harvard-commit and potential 2021 first-round NHL draft pick Matthew Beniers and his future.
Baily Johnson confirmed that Beniers has indeed withdrawn his commitment to Harvard and will play at the University of Michigan. He is the fifth player to leave Harvard after the Ivy League canceled all their sports until at least Jan. 1.
Beniers scored 18 goals and 41 points in 44 games for the United States Under-18 National Team during the 2019-20 season. He also played in 16 United States Hockey League (USHL) games for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP), where he scored seven goals and 16 points. He will join a very talented Michigan team that includes Thomas Bordeleau, Kent Johnson, Brendan Brisson and Owen Power.
There is still uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 NCAA season. The Big 10 Conference, which Michigan is a part of, canceled all fall sports on Tuesday. This initial announcement did not include ice hockey, but there has been no word on when the season will start or how long it will be if it happens.
This could lead to some of the Big 10’s top players looking to play elsewhere, like in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Cole Caufield, the Montreal Canadiens’ 2019 first-round draft pick, is heading into this sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin. He could make the move to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) where the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds own his rights if there is a long delay to the start of the season.
Kase to Start Season in Europe
In what has been a daily occurrence for the past couple of weeks, another NHL team has loaned one of their prospects to a European club. The Philadelphia Flyers are the latest to do so, loaning forward David Kase to HC Karlovy Vary of the Czech Extraliga.
The Flyers originally drafted Kase out of the Czech Republic in the fifth round (128th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He came over to North America for the 2018-19 season, scoring eight goals and 23 points in 40 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Kase made his NHL debut this past season and played in a total of six games for the Flyers. He scored his first goal on Dec. 19 versus the Anaheim Ducks, who his older brother Ondrej played for at the time.
The majority of the 2019-20 season was spent in AHL. In 51 games for the Phantoms, Kase scored seven goals and 19 points.
Prospect of the Day – Michael Krutil
We will stay in the Czech Republic to take a look at Krutil, a 6-foot-3, 203-pound, right-handed defenseman. Heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he is ranked as the 27th European skater by NHL Central Scouting. THW’s draft guru Larry Fisher has listed at no. 208 in his final rankings.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
When Krutil is on the ice, he is a good skater that knows how to use his size to his advantage. This biggest problem has been staying on the ice. Injuries have limited him to just 70 games over the past two seasons. His talent warrants him worthy of a third-round pick, but his injury history could see him slide down to one of the final rounds of the draft.
In addition to his size, Kruti is a very good passer which helps him get the puck out of his own end with ease. He brings a physical presence to the ice but does not have much of an offensive upside to his game at this point in his career.
Our own Eugene Helfrick feels that he has enough to be drafted this October. How far he advances in his professional career will be up to him.
Anytime you have a big, physical defenseman with solid skating like Krutil, there are the building blocks of an NHL starter. Even if he is unable to grow his offensive game, every team wants a responsible defensive-first defenseman in their prospect pool. Krutil could provide that role on the blue line in a few years after spending some time eating big minutes in the AHL.
Krutil was drafted by the Kelowna Rockets in the most recent CHL Import Draft. This could help him move up the draft board. Playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL) will go a long way in his development. It will allow him to adjust to the North American game will playing against tough competition. He will be an intriguing prospect to watch at this year’s draft as his name could be heard any time after the second round.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.