To continue the positional previews of the Frozen Four teams, today we have a quick look at the defensemen.
Most talented – Jon Merrill, Michigan
There are probably a number of different ways to take this, as each team has very talented defensemen. But every time I have seen Merrill play this year he has been phenomenal. The future New Jersey Devil had 7 goals and 17 assists in 40 games this year, and is great at both ends of the ice. He’s a great skater, has great hands, and plays positionally very well. He plays like a Senior even though he is only a Freshman. Merrill was also one of the better defensemen on the United States’s WJC team, and was one of the few who didn’t look lost in their semifinal loss to Canada. Merrill’s time in Ann Arbor could be short, but he could leave a national champion.
Best player – Chay Genoway, North Dakota
The 5th year Senior bounced around between forward and defense early in his career, but he has blossomed into one of the better blueliners in the country this year. He was well on his way to being a Hobey candidate last year when his season was shortened by a concussion, but he has come back this year to post 6 goals and 37 points, ranking him 3rd nationally among defensemen in points per game. Not only does he play on the power play, Genoway plays on the penalty kill and often matches up against the opponent’s top line. He does everything for the Sioux and while they have a lot of depth on their blueline, he might be the biggest loss in the entire country going into next year.
Others to watch:
Justin Faulk, Minnesota-Duluth
Sam Calebrese, Notre Dame
Ben Blood, North Dakota