By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks drafted Matt Berkovitz in the fifth round last year. He played in the USHL this past season and will start playing in the NCAA at the University of Wisconsin this season.
Berkovitz played for two different teams in the USHL last season, the Sioux City Musketeers and the Green Bay Gamblers. He played in 20 games for the Musketeers and recorded no points, and appeared in 23 games for the Gamblers and put up four assists. Unfortunately, Berkovitz contracted mononucleosis near the start of the season and missed a lot of games with the Musketeers. In both Norfolk and Anaheim, players in the Ducks’ system dealt with strange injuries and illnesses this past season, so Berkovitz contracting mono almost seems fitting. When he returned to the lineup, he saw limited action, but got more of a chance in Green Bay. Offensively, he didn’t light up the scoreboard, but he played solid defense with the Gamblers.
This coming season, Berkovitz is going to get a chance to play in Wisconsin’s top six; however, for a team that is historically one of the better NCAA teams, Berkovitz may have a tough time cracking the lineup on a consistent basis as a freshman. As a result, I’m not expecting Berkovitz to get a ton of game time this season. With that in mind, I’d like to see him work hard at practice and when he does get into the lineup, to be a difference maker. I’m also hoping that as the season goes along, he is able to get more ice time. Ideally, his freshman season would mirror Keaton Thompson’s freshman season, where he sees very limited action early in the season, but as he gets better and earns more trust from the coaching staff, appears in most of the games in the second half of the season. I’m not expecting him to be a star in his freshman season, but would be happy with him to grow his game this coming season.
Berkovitz is a very good skater and standing at 6’1”, has good size to be an effective player in the NHL someday. If he can add an inch or two and put on a lot more muscle, he could turn into a very solid player in the years ahead.
When the Ducks drafted Berkovitz, it was with the idea that he was a long term prospect who the Ducks wouldn’t see for a long time, and so far, he is on that track. He has yet to sign a professional contract and I would not expect him to do so for at least two or three years, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he stayed in college for all four years before turning pro. The Ducks’ defense could look very different in three or four years, so it’s hard to predict where Berkovitz will be on the Ducks’ depth chart then. Currently, the Ducks have Cam Fowler, Simon Despres, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm on their roster, all of whom are 24 or younger. Coming up, the Ducks have Shea Theodore, Marcus Pettersson, Josh Manson, and Brandon Montour, all of whom could be on an NHL roster in the next few seasons. Depending on who the Ducks decide to keep could have a major impact on where Berkovitz, and other defensive prospects, ends up in the future. For now, he needs to focus on becoming a better player and not worry about signing a professional contract for the next few years.
My next prospect update will be on Kevin Gagne.
We have been tracking the off-season status of the Ducks prospects. If you want more information about a specific prospect, then please visit here: Ducks Prospects: Summer Updates
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