With the start of the NCAA's postseason tournaments, it should be an exciting time for all the Sharks prospects in the college ranks. However, for University of New Hampshire forward Marcus Vela, it also has to be a frustrating one as he is forced to watch from the sidelines.
A regular in the Wildcat lineup all season, Vela injured his ankle and has missed the last six games, including the three games of Hockey East's opening round. While UNH was able to take the series from Merrimack College, Vela could only cheer on his teammates. He is unlikely to return this season. It was an especially bittersweet weekend for Vela, who also just turned 20 last Friday.
It's been a somewhat frustrating season for the Burnaby, B.C. native all-around. The Wildcats found themselves with a losing record, and Vela's numbers dropped a bit from last season.
As a freshman last year, Vela had 16 points (7-9=16) in 37 games. This season, that fell to 7 points (2-5=7) in 26 games. While his production fell, his shot rate did increase significantly. If this year can be written off as bad luck, next year could see a big rebound.
Listed at 6'1", 204 pounds, Vela seems to play a solid all-around game.
Hockey's Future calls Vela "A long-term project at this point, his scoring ability and two-way play suggest he can be an effective second or third line player at the NHL level in the future."
In an interview with UNH Hockey Blog, Vela described himself in a very similar manner. " I am responsible in my own end and have a physical element to my game," Vela said. "Aside from the need to develop further before starting a professional career, I believe that being a responsible 2-way power center can make me successful in the future."
If Vela can recover from this frustrating season and rebound as a junior, there's no reason to think Vela couldn't add to the Sharks organization's forward depth with the Barracuda in a couple years.
Click here to see the current prospect report.