Monday, April 28, 2008

Whalers sign 2007 first-rounder Schmitz

The Plymouth Whalers today announced the signing of 17-year-old defenseman Beau Schmitz, who was selected by the Whalers in the first round (19th overall) of the 2007 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Schmitz, from Howell, played last season for the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, scoring six goals with nine assists for 15 points in 59 games for the NTDP’s Under-17 Team. Schmitz led both the Under-17 and Under-18 Teams with 108 penalty minutes.

“Beau’s an exceptional offensive talent,” Plymouth general manager Mike Vellucci said. “He will be one of the best skaters in our league. He’s a very tough defenseman and can play any aspect of the game that we ask. I compare him to (former Whalers captain and current Chicago Blackhawk) James Wisniewski, but a better skater.

“He was the best defenseman in his age group and definitely the best American defenseman of his age group. He’s tough, hates to lose and is the complete package. He plays a very in-your-face style of hockey, what I call Whaler hockey. I couldn’t be happier in signing Beau today. What’s best about this for Beau is that he will get the best of both worlds – a great education, while developing for the National Hockey League.”

“Coming to Plymouth is a great opportunity,” said Schmitz, pictured above with Whalers head coach Greg Stefan. “It will help me out with the schooling they offer and the NHL Draft. I like to get up into the play offensively, but play a good defensive game, too.”

In 2006-07, Schmitz played with current Whalers RJ Mahalak (Monroe) and Tyler J. Brown (Westland) on the Belle Tire Under-16 team that won state and national championships.

“They both have been talking to me,” Schmitz said. “They encouraged me, told me how much fun it was and what a nice place Plymouth is.”

Photo courtesy Natalie Shaver/Plymouth Whalers

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