Underage aces lead Michigan’s top-ranked recruiting class
Center Kent Johnson, left, and defenseman Owen Power, both of whom are projected to be in the top 10 picks in the 2021 NHL draft, lead Michigan’s recruiting class.
Three Michigan schools are among the top 10 NCAA Division I hockey recruiting classes for 2020-21, according to a hockey scouting and news site.
Neutral Zone ranks the University of Michigan’s 2020-21 incoming freshmen as the top recruiting class in the country. Western Michigan’s recruits are ranked at No. 4, and Northern Michigan’s are the 10th best.
After replacing the legendary Red Berenson as the Wolverines coach, Mel Pearson needed only three years to land an elite class.
“If you go down the list of players we have coming in, we’re really excited about this group,” Pearson said. “(We) feel they’re really gonna fit in and plug some of the holes we lost by losing nine pretty good seniors. And we’re gonna need that. We’re gonna need those guys to come in and contribute right away.”
The class is led by two players who are projected to be in the top five or 10 picks in the 2021 NHL draft – center Kent Johnson and defenseman Owen Power.
Despite not turning 18 until October and being a year or two younger that most of the British Columbia Hockey League’s other players, Johnson won the league’s scoring title by 30 points last season – 41 goals and 60 assists for 101 points in 52 games – while playing with the Trail Smoke Eaters. Power, who doesn’t turn 18 until late November, is 6-5, 209 pounds and had 40 points (12-28 in 45 games) for the Chicago Steel last season, which led all United States Hockey League defensemen.
Power’s Steel teammate last season, center Brendan Brisson, was the USHL’s second-leading point producer with 24 goals and 35 assists for 59 points in 45 games and is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft.
Center Thomas Bordeleau, who led the National Team Development Program in scoring with 16 goals and 30 assists in 46 games in 2019-20, is projected as a late first- or early second-round pick in this year’s draft.
Among the Wolverines’ other notable incoming freshmen are Johnson’s Trail teammate Phillippe Lapointe, defenseman Jacob Trustcott (NTDP and a native of Fort Gratiot), and Swedish goalie Erik Portillo.
Western Michigan’s class is led by forward Luke Grainger, who put up 34 goals and 82 points in 56 games for the Hawkesbury Hawks of the Central Canada Hockey League.
Other top prospects are sniper Cristos Rodis, who had 39 goals in 54 games with the Pickering Panthers and Brampton Admirals of the Ontario Junior Hockey League; left wing Jarred White, who accumulated 65 points (29-36) and 112 penalty minutes with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and Livonia native aand right wing Hugh Larkin, who had 21 goals and 46 points and was plus-16 in 48 games for the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League.
The notable members of Northern Michigan’s recruiting class are forward Grant Johnson, who had 14 goals and 43 points in 48 games for the Bismarck Bisons of the NAHL, and Brighton native and defenseman Tim Erkkila. He played for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs of the NAHL and was a member of the league’s All-Rookie team with two goals and 16 assists in 49 games last season.