Speed is the great equalizer.
Michigan may look a little quicker on the ice in the future after 17-year-old forward Jackson Hallum, from St. Thomas Academy in Minnesota, committed to the Wolverines on Monday afternoon.
He revealed the next steps for his hockey career in a tweet: “I am proud and honored to announce that I will be furthering my education and hockey career at the University of Michigan! I want to thank my friends, family and coaches who have helped me along the way!”
One look at Hallum’s tape reveals his standout skill — his speed.
“He’s obviously regarded as one of the fastest, if not the fastest skater in the state of Minnesota,” St. Thomas coach Trent Eigner said. “He’s definitely an explosive skater that brings an element of speed to the game.”
The speedy nature of Hallum’s play showed up in the scoresheet. He was a powerhouse for the Cadets last season with 18 goals and 17 assists in 25 games.
He can get up and down the ice in seconds, which makes him a consistent threat. He uses every inch of his six foot frame to slice through defenders and dangle past goaltenders.
At the college level, though, speed is a prerequisite. Nearly every player recruited by a Big Ten program has elite speed. What sets Hallum apart is how he utilizes his quickness on the defensive end.
“Regardless of the role he fills, he will always be able to cover ground and close gaps on forechecks.” Eigner said. “His first three steps allow him to get sticks in lanes and disrupt plays.”
Beyond speed, Eigner also praised Hallum’s willingness to lay down hits and scrap for loose pucks.
“He’s a very aggressive player and he’s kind of a tough kid and brings a little bit of grit for a guy who’s really skilled.” Eigner said. “I think that’s something that the average person who watched him play probably wouldn’t realize.”
The tape shows why the hype is warranted. Here, Hallum flies in to steal the puck in the offensive zone, poking it away from a defender and then deking around the goalie and firing into the net. What stands out is how he doesn’t slow down at all even as he picks up the puck and moves laterally.
Hallum will spend a year playing juniors in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League before coming to Michigan in 2022.
Coming out of Minnesota — a pipeline for NHL talent — Hallum is no stranger to high-level competition. And when he arrives in Ann Arbor, he will be ready to do what it takes to compete in the Big Ten.
“He’s an extremely hard worker,” Eigner said. “Everybody who’s played with him would attest to the fact that he definitely spends his offseason training as hard as anybody.”
Hallum will bring a range of talents when he joins the Wolverines. But ultimately it’s his unrivaled speed that gives him the potential to be a game-breaking player.
“Regardless of the level you’re at,” Eigner said, “if you're one of the fastest guys on the ice, it's definitely an asset you can utilize.”