Former NHL player Gino Cavallini is coaching director of one of the most renowned youth hockey programs in the Midwest, if not the country.

So the kind of laurels he put on the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team's newest recruit is cause to take notice.

After defenseman Grayden Daul of Glenview, Illinois, delivered an oral commitment to the Badgers on Monday, Cavallini, his coach with the Chicago Mission, shed some light on the player's potential.

"I don't want to project where he's going to be, but he's pretty good," Cavallini said. "He's as good a defenseman as we've had come through the program."

Daul, 15, is a potential pick for next year's USA Hockey National Team Development Program class or to sign a tender with a United States Hockey League team. He can join the Badgers as early as the fall of 2021.

UW coaches saw him at USA Hockey's Central District camp in May, Cavallini said, before Daul went on to the national Select 15 player development camp in July.

A right-handed shot who's 5-foot-10, Daul plays a physical, heady game, according to Cavallini.

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"Once he felt comfortable with my coaching style — I just let them play — he's good," Cavallini said. "He can quarterback the power play, kill penalties. He's one of those all-situation guys.

"And on top of that, he's a great kid, great family, very approachable. ... My defensive coaches, they'll tell him something and he'll make the adjustment next shift."

Daul's sister attends UW and his father is an alumnus, so there wasn't much surprise when the Badgers became his choice.

"A couple of other schools were interested in me, but I knew that I wanted to go to Wisconsin," Daul said. "I didn't go visit any of those schools. I knew Wisconsin was the one."

Daul is the fifth player born in 2003 or later who has given the Badgers a nonbinding oral commitment. Defensemen Corson Ceulemans and Joe Palodichuk and forward Caden Brown also are in the 2003 class, while forward Nick Pierre was born in 2004.

With at least three seasons left before Daul joins the Badgers, he said he needs to continue working in the gym and studying video to improve his game.

"There's always somebody that's going to want to come up from behind you," he said. "If you want to be the best, you have to train like you're the worst."


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