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2014 NHL Draft Prospect: Matt Berkovitz

Matt Christians

The Player

Matt Berkovitz

Defenseman

Ashwaubenon(Wisconsin) High School

2013-2014 stats: 24 games 11 goals 26 assists 37 points 12 PIMs

Height: 6'1" Weight: 180 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 61st among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Berkovitz is a jack-of-all-trades type of defenseman that does everything pretty well, but doesn't have any one particular area where he is exceptional. He's a pretty smooth skater for a player his size, and moves the puck reliably, but isn't a huge offensive threat from the blue line. He plays with a calm, cool demeanor that sometimes borders on too passive.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

Berkovitz was certainly a known commodity prior to this year--earning a scholarship offer to Wisconsin is no joke-- but wasn't necessarily in the discussion to a high mid-round draft pick. Berkovitz impressed scouts with a strong showing in the Upper Midwest Elite League, then dominated the Wisconsin high school ranks. He didn't face the highest level of competition this year, but performed well against the competition he did face.

Draft projection?

Central Scouting really likes Berkovitz, though their ranking of 61 seems a bit generous. It takes an exceptional amount of talent to play in the NHL, and NHL teams are usually looking for players with one or two outstanding qualities that will translate to the NHL. Berkovitz doesn't necessarily have that, but the intrigue of the unknown might work a bit in his favor. After not being overly tested in the Wisconsin high school ranks, Berkovitz might be a player that really takes off once he's pushed in a more intense hockey environment. Berkovitz might slip into the fourth or fifth round of the draft, but will almost definitely be taken.

Pro upside?

Berkovitz projects as a reliable puck-moving defenseman that doesn't put up a lot of points, but excels by making smart decisions with the puck. He could top out as a good second pairing defenseman with excellent possession numbers. At the same time, it's worth remembering Berkovitz has never played a game of junior hockey in his life, so any projections are almost entirely based on what he might do, which lowers the odds of him reaching that potential.

Where will he go next?

Berkovitz will play a year with the Chicago Steel of the USHL before heading to Madison to play for the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a strong history of developing defensemen, which bodes well for Berkovitz's future. He's likely at least three years away from being physically ready for the NHL.