The Basics: Matthew Berkovitz, defenseman, 6'1", 181 lbs, from Green Bay, WI.
Previous Team: Ashwaubenon (HS) Jaguars, committed to the Chicago Steel (USHL) for 2014-15 season and Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA Big Ten) in 2015
Pre-draft Rankings: 61st for North American skaters (NHL central scouting)
"Berkovitz is a smooth skating rearguard that makes good decisions. He reads the play extremely well and in a split second reacts accordingly. He pushes the puck up ice and defends intelligently using his stick and by closing off lanes."
"People are going to be shocked at where he goes, which should be top 2-3 rounds. Intelligent, skating, creativity, developmental environment."
"I don't know where he fits, I know there's inconsistency in his game, sometimes. I think he's a real nice puck-moving defenseman with some real nice upside."
"Berkovitz is the rare top prospect to come out of the Wisconsin high school ranks. He's a pretty gifted player on a tools level. He's a good puck mover from the back end, who displays the vision and overall instincts to be an effective player with his outlets, rushes, and when he gets his power play time."
A smooth, mobile blue-liner, Berkovitz needs to continue to get stronger and could add some physicality to his game. What attracted NHL scouts to Berkovitz was his poise and skating ability. Berkovitz has offensive upside and is a gifted passer who can run a power play.
Matt Berkovitz iso video Team Wisconsin (via Andy Johnson)
Ashwaubenon's Berkovitz is hockey player of the year (via Green Bay Press-Gazette)
Initial Reaction: It's not every day when you see someone get taken in the NHL draft who doesn't even have some junior or college experience under their belt yet. Instead, Berkovitz has run the show in the Wisconsin high school circuit, and more recently, the Upper Midwest High School Elite League, where he played for Team Wisconsin. Since most of the teams in this league play in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, I've had the privilege to play some drop-in with a handful of these kids, and one of my roommates is even a former player for Team WI. What I'm trying to say is, don't let Berkovitz's lack of post-high school experience deter you, the kids who play in this league are no joke. Berkovitz was also named to USA Hockey's inaugural All-USA high school boys team, which is another pretty solid accomplishment to add to his resume.
Obviously he has a long ways to go before he even makes it to Norfolk, but when it comes to high schoolers, Berkovitz is way ahead of the pack. If he can keep his recent success trending upward in junior and college, we could be starting to see more of him in as soon as three or four years.