Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wow, you mean they don't dress 9 defensemen?

I wonder when this thought first occurred to Nigel Williams. We know it occurred shortly after Wisconsin's 10th game, last Saturday, where, with another DNP, Williams had seen action in only one game. At that point, he decided that seeing playing time was important to his development, and that with Wisconsin's defensive depth, he might not see regular ice time as a freshman.

OK. He's an NHL prospect, having been ranked 13th overall by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau for last year's NHL draft. He went 51st overal to Colorado. If he got a good education promise from the OHL's Saginaw Spirit (they of the positive Stephen Colbert fame, and the negative Matthew Corrente fame), then hockey-wise this might work out.

But it doesn't answer many questions. Clearly, having gone the NCAA route, he preferred the NCAA route to the OHL. While the question may be "why back out now?", it seems to me the more pertinent question is "if freshman PT was essential to you, why did you choose a team with 8 regular defensemen?"

The context for Williams' choice of Wisconsin is as follows. He was the last memeber of the current defensive group to commit, meaning he was not blindsided by Mike Eaves bringing in too many defensemen. Wisconsin already returned 6 regular defensemen in 06-07 (Klubertanz, Likens, Piskula, Drewiske, Olinger and Engel), received an early commitment in October 2004 from Garret Suter, and another in February 2005 from Jamie McBain. So, with 8 guys lined-up for 2006-07, how exactly did Williams figure he was guaranteed playing time?

Guys, there's a correlation between playing time and scholarship guys already on the depth chart. If you want the prestige of a top program, and one that has an inordinate number of defensive recruits, what can you expect?

Let's hope he can make the best of it up in Saginaw.

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