- Michael Caples/MiHockeyNow.com
By Matt Slovin, Daily Sports Editor
Published June 23, 2012
PITTSBURGH — Michigan sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe stood just feet away from where future teammate Jacob Trouba stood the night before and made the same promise.
Though the Carolina Hurricanes drafted his rights with the 38th overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft, Di Giuseppe will play for the Wolverines this season.
“It’s great hockey,” Di Giuseppe said of the Michigan experience. “That’s why I went to school there and played there. I’m happy with my decision and I’m happy to go back next year.”
Michigan coach Red Berenson sat right behind Di Giuseppe as his name was called, applauding his forward’s accomplishment, but knowing he’ll benefit from more time in Ann Arbor.
“He’s been around so many prospects and so many NHL players,” Di Giuseppe said of his coach. “He had a lot of years in the NHL himself. He knows so much about the game and passes that on to his players. That’s why I think the program has done so well — because it was built around Red.”
Most draft projections accurately had Di Giuseppe going in the early part of the second round, so the timing wasn’t a surprise, but the team was something of one for Di Giuseppe.
“I had no idea,” Di Giuseppe said. “It’s kind of hard to tell. … I’m just proud to be drafted by this organization.
“It’s like a beauty contest. Obviously you want to go as high as possible, but I couldn’t be more happy with where I am now or as honored as I am now.”
Carolina met with the Maple, Ontario native at the NHL Scouting Combine and liked what Di Giuseppe, a promising scorer in a proven system at Michigan, brought to the table. And from that system, chock full of skaters that have gone through the draft process, came the best advice Di Giuseppe received going into the weekend.
“(Teammates) just told me how to handle myself and not to get caught up in it,” Di Giuseppe said. “I thought that helped a lot.”
Di Giuseppe cited junior defenseman Jon Merrill, sophomore forward Alex Guptill and senior forward Kevin Lynch as teammates that provided valuable insight. He hadn’t yet gotten a chance to speak to Trouba since the Winnipeg Jets selected him in the draft's first round.
Di Giuseppe is coming off a campaign that saw him emerge as the team’s second-best rookie. Only forward Alex Guptill had a better freshman season. Di Giuseppe recorded 26 points for the Wolverines in 2011-12.
“Last year, I came in strong and started scoring right away,” Di Giuseppe said. “The biggest part of my game that kind of fell was my consistency. That’s what I’ll work on in the summer. We lost a couple guys so I’m going to be relied on for scoring.”