I have often said the best quality Tom Anastos has displayed so far, is an ability to sell himself to both fans and recruits. He has not shied away from getting into recruiting battles with the top programs in the country and has managed to win some of those battles as well. Over the past week, the Spartans continued their process of rebuilding by receiving two commitments from top players in the state of Michigan.
Dylan Pavelek F 5'11'' 181 lbs. Marysville, MI (2014-15 Class)
Forward Dylan Pavelek is in his second season with the United State National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Pavelek played his minor hockey with the Bell Tire AAA program in suburban Detroit and at one time was an Ohio State commit. Pavelek played in the CCM/USA Hockey All American prospects game with fellow Spartan commits Josh Jacobs and Ed Minney. Pavelek has 14 points and 8 goals in 36 games played with the USNTDP this season. He also is listed with three game winning goals and only 14 shots on goal this season. If that stat is accurate and Pavelek has a 57% shooting percentage, he is going to bring an ability to finish that the Spartans desperately need. Pavelek most likely rounds out this class for the Spartans, as they only graduate 3 forwards this season, unless Anastos chooses to fill the scholarship vacated by Connor Wood.
Since the NTDP plays exhibition games against colleges, Spartan fans will get a chance to see Pavelek (and Minney) when the two teams meet March 1. Pavelek scored one of his 8 goals this season against the Michigan Wolverines, so he's 1/3 of the way to matching the Spartans total from last weekend. With the commitment of Pavelek the 2014-15 class now has 3 forwards, 2 defenseman and a goaltender. This is the first class of commitments that has been recruited from front to back by Anastos, and it shows a clear improvement over the previous classes. Pavelek and Minney represent the first Spartan commitments to come from the US NTDP since AJ Sturges who last played in 2010-11. The US program has all 22 players on its roster committed to play college hockey and is one of the richest recruiting grounds in the country. If Anastos can gain 1-2 commitments out of Ann Arbor each season, the future could be very bright for Michigan State.
David Keefer F 5'9'' 161 lbs Brighton, MI (2017-18 Class)
David Keefer is a 1997 birth date playing on the Honeybaked Midget Minor team that is considered the favorites to win a US national title this season. Keefer is the 5th player from Honeybaked to commit to the Spartans. His teammates Mitch Lewandowski, Ryan Bederka, Mitch Eliot and Noah Lalonde have all pledged to join Michigan State. His teammates are all committed for the 2016-17 season to this point, along with Ty Farmer from St. Louis.
It is extremely hard to project a player who has so much growing and hockey to play before his college enrollment. Keefer has 18 points in 16 league games played in the HPHL. The HPHL (High Performance Hockey League) is comprised of 6 of the top AAA hockey programs in the country, Little Ceasars, Honeybaked, Compuware, Team Illinois, Chicago Mission and the Chicago Young Americans. So Keefer has put those numbers up against some of the best young players in the country and not padded it against lesser competition. This is a league that features 12 college commitments from 15-17 year olds, including a league leading 7 for the Honeybaked program. Keefer was not a part of the Bantam Honeybaked team last season (14U) that won the national title over Shattuck-St Mary's but his 4 future Spartan teammates were.
It is possible that, if Honeybaked can keep the roster together, the Spartans could get a class of players that have won 2-3 national championships before even stepping on campus. There are possible defections to major junior from this class but if Anastos can hold onto these players it could be a top 10 class nationally. I like Anastos' chances, as he has an extra close relationship with these players and parents, seeing as he is a Honeybaked parent himself. Andrew Anastos is a fellow teammate of the 5 Honeybaked Spartans.
Michigan gets a big one in a commitment from Luke Martin ('98). Michigan State and Michigan are cornering the 1998-birth-year market.— Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC) January 28, 2014