By Thomas Harrington
A fifth-round pick from 2014, Matt Berkovitz completed his second season playing for the U.S. Military Academy this past season.
Berkovitz has had a strange career trajectory. Initially, he was going to go to the University of Wisconsin. However, he decided to spend an extra year in the USHL before going to the NCAA and also transferred to the U.S. Military Academy. Because of that transfer, he was ineligible to play in the 2017-2018 season. As a result of all this, despite being selected in 2014, Berkovitz only has two seasons of NCAA hockey under his belt. Also, Anaheim owns his rights until August 2022.
Berkovitz’s second season at the U.S. Military Academy wasn’t quite as strong as his first. After scoring a goal and 10 points in 39 games in his first season, he scored a goal and five points in 27 games in his second. His lone goal proved to be the game-winner, and he had a career-high three assists against Mercyhurst. Both of his goals at the U.S. Military Academy have ended up being the game-winner. Berkovitz will never be known as an offensive defenseman, so the drop in points isn’t terribly concerning. What’s more important is his defensive game. Despite playing in fewer games, he still had 21 blocked shots, good for sixth on the team, a good sign for his defensive game. An even better sign is that he’s been voted team captain for the upcoming season, meaning that the rest of his team views him as their leader, even though he doesn’t put up a ton of points.
I had two expectations for Berkovitz this past season, and he failed to hit either. First, I wanted him to play every game of the season. After sitting out for a year, I wanted him to play as much hockey as possible. Unfortunately, he missed a number of games this past season. Second, I wanted him to get a few more points, which he also failed to do. Still, that’s partly because of his fewer games. If he had played more, maybe he would have broken the 10 point mark.
As with all NCAA players, this coming season is a hard one to predict for Berkovitz. As team captain, more will be expected of him. I’d love to see him score more goals and points, but given the uncertainty of everything right now, for Berkovitz, I just want him to play in every game for the U.S. Military Academy.
Berkovitz is currently unsigned and will remain that way until his college career is over. With how his career has gone so far, I don’t think Anaheim will consider signing him until two years from now. Even then, they may decide to let Berkovitz become a free agent, but if he can make some big steps over the next couple of seasons, the Ducks could consider signing and bringing him to San Diego.
The next prospect update will be on Alex Dostie.
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September 8th, 2020