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Detroit Red Wings Prospects: NCAA Hockey Prospect Season Reviews

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The Detroit Red Wings had six prospects playing NCAA hockey this season. Here's how they did.

James de Haas.
James de Haas.
Jennifer Leigh Photography

We're past the one-month mark since the Providence College Friars stunned the Boston University Terriers for the NCAA men's hockey championship. Unfortunately for fans of Detroit Red Wings prospects, the Friars made quick work of David Pope and the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in the Frozen Four semifinal.


James de Haas

#2 / Sophomore Defenseman / Clarkson University (ECAC)

6-3

212

May 3, 1994

Shoots: Left

GP G A P +/- PIM SOG
36 6 9 15 -3 18 84

How his team did: Clarkson was not a very good team. Funnily enough, they won a bunch of ECAC games early in the season that kept them in contention for the conference regular season title late, but scoring 2.19 goals per game and having a team save percentage of .902 just won't carry a team very far, even at the NCAA level. Clarkson's season ended with a first-round Game 3 loss at home to RPI in the ECAC playoffs.

How he did: They say in college hockey circles that some of the biggest improvements in players occur in the time between freshman and sophomore year. Players are more aware of the expectations and the level of competition, so they carry that knowledge into their second year of competition.

James de Haas fits that bill perfectly. Clarkson head coach Casey Jones had this to say about the Red Wings prospect:

James made significant progress this year with his overall game away from the puck and has started to emerge as a player that can consistently impact games offensively.

de Haas improved his already impressive skating. He had mostly third-pairing duties last season as a freshman on a Clarkson team that did pretty well to limit opponents' scoring opportunities, but he thrived under increased responsibilities as a sophomore. He finished fourth on the team in scoring overall with 15 points in 36 of Clarkson's 37 games, and he actually led the team in scoring for a stretch during the season as well.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from de Haas' sophomore season is that he elevated himself from long-term project to legitimate NHL prospect. Short of turning pro, there's not much to gauge how his play would translate to higher levels of competition, but he has the tools to be a stabilizing presence on the third pair who can move the puck. He'll still need to work on his positioning and getting heavier on the puck.


Dylan Larkin

#19 / Freshman Forward / University of Michigan (Big Ten)

6-1

192

July 30, 1996

Shoots: Left

GP G A P +/- PIM SOG
35 15 32 47 +18 38 151

How his team did: Michigan had a terrible start to the season before a seven-game winning streak after Christmas resurrected their season. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, a 3-5 end to the season meant that their national tournament hopes rested on winning the Big Ten tournament, and they just didn't have enough in the championship game against Minnesota after missing out on the first-round bye.

How he didKyle already did a fantastic and thorough review of Dylan Larkin's season. He made an instant impact as a freshman, and the sheer dominance at the NCAA level made USA Hockey pay attention too. Larkin's season isn't over as he's currently playing in the 2015 IIHF World Championship, and while his single assist in seven games isn't much to write home about, his level of play far exceeds what the stat sheet shows.

Larkin has been noncommittal about where he's going to play next season. Expect it to be a major offseason storyline that also plays into the Mike Babcock saga.


Ben Marshall

#10 / Senior Defenseman / University of Minnesota (Big Ten)

5-9

179

Aug. 30, 1992

Shoots: Left

GP G A P +/- PIM SOG
39 2 9 11 -3 20 78

How his team did: The Golden Gophers started off well enough before enduring a midseason tailspin. The defending national runner-up to 2014 champion Union returned a large swath of the roster full of NHL prospects. A disappointing season started to turn around when Minnesota won the Big Ten tournament, but a lackluster conference meant the Gophers would be the only representative in the national tournament. They promptly got pasted by Minnesota-Duluth in the Northeast Regional semifinal.

How he did: Of the players on this list, I admit Marshall is the player I know least about. He bounced around the lineup through the season, until he finally settled into the third pair. He's going to be 23 by the time Red Wings training camp rolls around, so it's difficult to see where he fits into Detroit's future.


Chase Perry

#35 / Freshman Goaltender / Colorado College (NCHC)

6-3

189

Feb. 8, 1996

Catches: Left

GP Record Sv % GAA
15 1-8-1 .876 3.97

How his team did: Colorado College was pretty hot garbage all year, and it wasn't simply a byproduct of being in the best conference in college hockey this season. Their 4-7-0 nonleague record was actually a bright spot, as the rest of the NCHC steamrolled the Tigers to the tune of a 2-19-3 conference record. CC, along with Wisconsin, won exactly one game away from home all season — at UConn.

How he did: Perry was not good. The only CC games I saw this season featured Tyler Marble and no hook, so I can't get a gauge on Perry's actual play in goal. Marble posted a .896 save percentage on the season, so while that is .020 better than Perry, it's still pretty awful. Perry started in 10 games and came on in relief in five, which is why he has 15 games played, yet only has a 1-8-1 record.

Whatever the reason for Perry's atrocious numbers, and whether they're mostly a reflection of his own play or of the team in front of him, this was only his freshman season. Assuming he uses all three remaining years of his NCAA eligibility, he has plenty of time to develop at CC and hopefully put this nightmare freshman season behind him. As a '96 birthday, he also is only 19 years old, so by the time he graduates, he'll be 22 and still have plenty of time to develop in the professional ranks.


Mike McKee

#2 / Sophomore Defenseman / Western Michigan University (NCHC)

6-5

250

Oct. 17, 1993

Shoots: Left

GP G A P +/- PIM SOG
34 2 1 3 -7 82 36

How his team did: Like CC, Western Michigan was partially a victim of the rest of the NCHC being a dominant conference. An 8-5-0 nonconference record was respectable enough, but 6-13-5 against the rest of their own conference doomed the Broncos.

How he did: He's officially listed as a defenseman, but McKee has actually been used as a forward (left wing) at WMU. He's been moving up and down the lineup and playing with plenty of different players, but if he's playing as a forward, it's hard to be anything but disappointed at his score line. He has been used as a defenseman in development camp with the Red Wings where Michelle had glowing words about him, so it's anyone's guess what this means for his development.

The problem coming into the NCAA for McKee was a total lack of discipline. In just two seasons in the USHL, he racked up a combined 529 PIM. 529. He spent nearly nine full games in the penalty box over two seasons. During his freshman season with the Broncos, he averaged 2.57 PIM per game but most of those penalty minutes came in two games. He played only 21 games in part because of problems with on-ice discipline.

McKee played in 34 of 37 games this season, and while his PIM average dropped from 2.57 to 2.41, he actually got slightly worse in terms of discipline. The following is a table of his four worst nights in terms of penalties this past season:

Date Opponent PIM Penalties
11/22/14 5-2 L at Miami 17 Boarding; Checking from Behind+Game Misconduct
1/23/15 7-0 L at St. Cloud State 16 Boarding; Roughing; Unsportsmanlike+Misconduct
2/14/15 3-1 L at Nebraska-Omaha 17 Holding; Checking from Behind+Game Misconduct
3/15/15 4-0 L at Miami 12 Slashing+Misconduct

Two of these games, he got thrown out after the game was already decided. While the numbers show that he's getting better at avoiding the two-minute minors, I wonder if some level of overeagerness played into some of his more undisciplined nights. It's also a wonder if these problems will translate to defense if he gets slotted on the blue line again at development camp.


David Pope

#12 / Freshman Forward / University of Nebraska Omaha (NCHC)

6-3

200

Sept. 27, 1994

Shoots: Left

GP G A P +/- PIM SOG
33 8 6 14 +3 6 68

How his team did: Thanks in large part to .939 goaltending from Ryan Massa, Nebraska-Omaha managed to make a run all the way to the Frozen Four. As mentioned in the intro, however, Providence was just too good, and the Mavericks got rolled pretty well in a 4-1 national semifinal loss.

How he didPope graciously granted us a phone interview to help us recap his season prior to the Frozen Four. He wasn't much of a threat in the Frozen Four, and he also looked a step behind the pace of the game, probably because of the quality of the opponent. As Pope mentioned to us, however, he consciously chose Omaha because of the caliber of play in the NCHC, so if there's an ideal environment for the left winger to develop in, he's in it at Omaha.

Pope has a great shot that he should be utilizing more often. Whether it's an issue of space or luck, that shot is probably his best bet of getting to the NHL where he'll be a prime goal-scorer. It was a solid rookie season, and hopefully Pope makes good use of this offseason to improve.