Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two-Card Monty?

The next stop on the offseason express is the press release detailing the players coming into the Class of 2014 - some of which will actually be members of the class of 2013. Most years, this is a fairly anticlimactic occasion, as observers usually know well in advance who's in and who's out.

This year, it's different. We know a good number of names - 10 in all - of players who have committed to RPI (see the first eight right here). Not all of them will be coming this upcoming season, but usually there's at least a decent idea of what the full class is going to look like.

Who's In

We know forward Greg Burgdoerfer will be here, since he's already a student and practiced with the team throughout the past season after sitting out his transfer season.

We know defenseman Nick Bailen (14-31--45 in 67 games for Indiana/USHL) will be here, since the clock has started on his NCAA eligibility and he will start losing years if he doesn't show up next season.

We know forward Matt Tinordi (23-23--46 in 62 games for Olds/AJHL) will be here, as his name has popped up in the student directory for next year (usually an indication that they're incoming, he'll be a Management major, it looks like) and he's been committed to RPI for over two years now.

We know defenseman Guy Leboeuf will be here, as he has exhausted his junior A eligibility and has to move on to the college or major junior level to continue playing. Guy committed in February. He's a got a 6'4" 180 frame and put up 11 goals and 24 assists in 74 total games this year for the CJHL's Cornwall Colts. The word on Leboeuf is that he's more of a defensive-oriented defenseman, but he's got a heckuva slapshot. With a name like that, I'm sure you're thinking he's from Quebec, but actually, he's from West Palm Beach, Florida.

We're pretty certain Brock Higgs (28-46--74 in 65 games for Kingston/OJAHL) will be here. He hasn't popped up on the school directory yet and he hasn't exhausted his junior A eligibility, but there's been nothing at all to indicate that his plans are for anything but Troy next season.

That's the end of what we know for sure - 3 forwards and 2 defensemen. There will be more - it's just that we don't know for sure who those will be.

Who's Out

The only name we know for sure will not be arriving in Troy for classes in August is defenseman Luke Curadi (7-11--18 in 74 games for Penticton/BCHL). It has been published in a number of places that he will be joining coach Jim Montgomery with the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints next season - so the Big Red One will not be in Troy until 2011. Instead he'll be honing his skills in probably the best junior A league out there for college-bound players and could be a real beast for the Engineers as a member of the Class of 2015.

Who's... um...

That leaves pretty much everyone else, who we're not 100% sure about - four names. Added to the mix is that we know there will be a second recruit playing for Monty and with Curadi next season in Dubuque - who that is for certain hasn't been officially nailed down yet.

Let's start with forward Jacob Laliberté (65-54--119 in 62 games for Cornwall/CJHL), the kid everyone's dying to see in the cherry and white. He's firmly in the middle right now - he's not officially in, he's not officially out, and he's not officially gone, either. We've been hearing some rumbles that he won't be in Troy next year, but those same rumbles didn't have him on his way to the OHL or the QMJHL either. The most recent discussion of Laliberté in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, the newspaper covering his current team, the Cornwall Colts, indicated that he was still committed to RPI, but openly questioned whether or not he would be back with Cornwall next year for a third season. It's been a soap opera with Laliberté for over two years now, and it's one that we may see go on for another year before it reaches its conclusion.

Defenseman Nick Quinn (7-13--20 in 37 games for Aurora/OJAHL and Orangeville/CCHL) is next on the questionable list. The Engineers need more than two defensemen to replace the graduating seniors (and Bryan Brutlag, if his move to forward is permanent) AND ensure some depth at the position. Quinn had been expected for next season, but missed the last two months of the junior season with an illness of some sort (although this hasn't reason hasn't been confirmed anywhere that I know of). The rumor mill says his arrival might be getting pushed back to 2011.

Third is defenseman Patrick Koudys (5-29--34 in 62 games for Burlington/CCHL), who may be like Quinn in reverse. Ever since his initial commitment to RPI in May of last season, he had been expected to be coming in 2011. Now, with Curadi not coming and Quinn potentially not coming, the rumor mill says there's a possibility of him arriving in 2010 instead. I tend to doubt it - he would still be 17 when the puck drops on October 8th to start the season, which means there's a lot of potential development time that you're throwing away to bring him in. He's already tall, but he's got room to fill out his massive frame still.

Last but not least, the latest name to pop up on the RPI recruit list, center Johnny Rogic. Rogic is a 19-year-old who put up 24 goals and 33 assists in 72 games for the AJHL's Alberini Valley this season, a team coached by RPI alum Nolan Graham. Recruiting guru Chris Heisenberg listed Rogic as an RPI recruit on his website at the beginning of this month from out of the blue at a time when we weren't expecting another forward for 2010, and it was thought that Rogic's inclusion may have been an early indication that Laliberté, another center, was not coming this season. The biggest question about Rogic, though, comes in the lack of other sources - Heisenberg is a very trustworthy source, but so far, he's the only one. A Google search for "Johnny Rogic RPI" pops up a USCHO.com thread where Heisenberg's addition was noted and discussed, and one of our tweets announcing Heisenberg's addition. No local newspapers talking about it, no confirmation on the Alberini Valley website, nothing.

So the question is begged - who is the second recruit heading to Iowa? It's almost certainly not Rogic, since the only question with him is finding a second source confirming his committment. That leaves four possibilities: Laliberté, Quinn, Koudys, or someone we aren't aware of yet. I talked to Montgomery at the banquet, and while he was forthcoming about Curadi, he was mum on the second recruit.

So who is it?

Quinn? Rumor has it from a possibly unreliable source that Nick Quinn is the second recruit going to Iowa. While it would be good to have Quinn together with Curadi as two highly anticipated blueliners under the tutelage of a coach we know will do a fantastic job with them, Quinn's official move to 2011 would be a big damper on the incoming class's overall makeup and would require some additional defensive recruits for next season. The cupboard may not be entirely bare at this point - John Kennedy committed in the April before his arrival and Jeff Foss in the May before his arrival - but most of the best talents coming in next year have already committed. The silver lining would be in potentially having a solid 2011 grouping of Quinn, Curadi, and Koudys already prepared to replace Kennedy, Foss, and Brutlag. One less thing to worry about.

Laliberté? It's certainly a possibility, and probably the best place for him to end up if he isn't coming to Troy. He's done pretty much all he can do in the CJHL considering the level of outright domination he put down this year, and going to Dubuque would put him with one of the coaches who no doubt helped recruit him in the first place with a chance to try and duplicate his gaudy number from the CJHL in a better league. It would be a good way to bridge the gap between the CJHL and the NCAA. Otherwise, he's treading water in Cornwall or he moves out of the picture by going major junior. The secrecy surrounding the second Iowa recruit may point to Laliberté as well - he's been the most heavily anticipated Engineers recruit in the system since Brandon Pirri and Jerry D'Amigo graduated from recruits to students, and his "will he or won't he" drama has been very carefully handled throughout.

Koudys? Less likely, but not outside the realm of possibility. Iowa would certainly be a good place for him to continue to grow, he's at the right age for the challenge that the USHL would present, and in working with Curadi, we'd have some Twin Towers coming in for 2011 with experience working together. He does still have some room to grow in Burlington with RPI alum Mark Jooris, though.

Someone else? Not impossible, but not likely. Heisenberg and other recruit watchers are pretty good about catching recruit news when it happens.

So when can we expect the announcement to come down? Last year's came on May 6, but the last recruit for 09-10 committed in February 2009 (Bryce Merriam), and there's no set date for it to be "due." If the wait drags out, it may mean there are more names to be added to the list. At any rate, stay tuned to our Twitter feed for breaking news on recruits as it comes in.

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