As I first mentioned last night, Michigan picked up a huge verbal commitment from 2012 defenseman Jacob Trouba of the U.S. National Team Development Program. The 6’2, 193 pound blue liner had reportedly been deciding between Michigan, Notre Dame, and Kitchener of the OHL, who hold his rights. Kitchener is the team that swiped top goalie commit John Gibson from the Wolverines this summer.
About a month ago Yahoo! Sports blog Buzzing the Net had an article on Trouba in which he stated he was taking so long with his commitment because he didn’t want to be like others and commit to college only to de-commit late in the process like so many other top prospects did this summer.
Jacob Trouba wants to be known as a man of his word.
So when the highly touted defensive prospect is ready to make his decision whether to play in the OHL for the Kitchener Rangers — who hold his CHL rights — or the NCAA, there won’t be any late de-commitments or promises broken.
“That’s sort of why I haven’t (committed), because I don’t want to make a commitment and then back down from it,” said the 17-year-old on Wednesday, while in Toronto to take part in the NHL’s Research and Development Camp.
“It’s important because people have to trust you and what you say,” he said of keeping his word. “If you keep backing out of decisions — and all that, going back on your word — then you’re just going to get that reputation.”
As Wolverine fans now hope Trouba keeps his word, already there are many doubters floating about out there who believe he’ll end up north of the border or go straight to the NHL, including NTDP teammate and Ohio State goalie commit Colin Olson, who tweeted:
Sorry Michigan fans… @JacobTrouba will probably just stop into Yost for a cup of coffee on his way to the NHL.
Not sure if he was joking or being serious, but if it’s the latter, that’s a really nice way to say congrats to a kid who just made a commitment. Ouch.
While Michigan has lost out on two high profile goalie recruits over the past two years, the Wolverines have a much stronger track record in retaining their forward and defensive commitments. Forwards Lucas Lessio and Trevor Lewis are the only top targets off the top of my head this morning that verbally committed to Michigan only to end up signing with the OHL (though at least he made that decision over a year in advance). Other players, most recently Max Domi, have used Michigan as part of playing the “college card” so they end up with the OHL team of their choice, but never actually committed to U-M.
I’ll put it this way. If Jack Johnson can end up at Yost, for two years no less, then there’s no way I’m writing off Jacob Trouba.
So on to the scouting reports…
The Wolverine hockey recruiting guru Bob Miller says, “Trouba is more Jack Johnson than Jon Merrill in style and, although VERY highly skilled, will need time to round off the edges in his play. That being said, I can’t picture him spending more than two years with Michigan at the most.”
NHL Central Scouting’s Al Jensen saw Trouba play three games at the recently concluded USHL Fall Classic and gave this report:
“I really liked the way he played in all three games I viewed; he’s a very good size D man,” Jensen told NHL.com. “He skates exceptionally well and likes to rush up ice with the puck and with good speed. He’ll also join the rush himself, is very confident and has great agility. He’s strong physically, can handle the puck and is always alert. He also did a good job with one-on-one rushes against … he has great upside.”
Bob McKenzie of TSN recently posted a Top 10 list for the 2012 NHL Draft and had Trouba tied for 10th with Kitchener’s Matia Marcantuoni. That latter name might sound familiar because at one time Marcantuoni claimed if he went the college route he was going to Michigan. Then the OHL draft came and went and Marcantuoni happened to be drafted by the one team he would play for. Go figure.
NHL Central Scouting lists Trouba as an ‘A’ Player on their Players to Watch list.
The Hockey News profiled Trouba, with one scout calling him “Cam Fowler with more of an edge.”
“With Jacob, he brings a lot of different elements to the game,” Cole said. “He has a real good edge to him and he likes to play that physical style. But he also moves the puck well.”
When THN article was written in March, Trouba had posted 3-12-15 in 14 international tournament games, which ranked third on the team. With the NTDP U18 Team so far this season, he has three assists in four games. So he’s got offensive upside and brings a physical game. What’s not to like about that?
With sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill likely to make an early departure for the NHL after this season, Trouba will be counted on to step right in. The Wolverines will also lose senior Greg Pateryn to graduation. Barring any other early departures, they will return six defensemen and, in addition to Trouba, have NTDP defenseman Connor Carrick coming in and possibly defenseman Spencer Hyman, too (won’t be surprised if he’s held off to 2013 with a potential log jam on the blue line). For a full list of Michigan’s future recruits, click here.