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Keeping Up With The Pups: Josh Norris wants to make an impact with the Wolverines

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The Sharks’ latest first rounder is starting off his collegiate career with a program in flux.

NHL: NHL Draft David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines need something different.

With a slew of superstars rolling through, but never staying too long, the Wolverines are having a difficult time finding consistency. Last season they found themselves with only six seniors on the roster, and they finished 13-19-3 - their fewest wins in 31 years.

Enter Josh Norris.

Norris committed to the Wolverines in 2014. When he was drafted in the first round by the Sharks this summer, that commitment became all the more exciting for the Wolverines staff.

That University of Michigan hockey program has seen several players over the past few seasons play only one year before turning pro. Dylan Larkin, Kyle Connor, and Jacob Trouba all had stand-out performances at the collegiate level that allowed them to make an early departure. The program also saw Zach Werenski leave after only two years.

That puts the pressure on Norris. The Wolverines brought on a new head coach in Mel Pearson this season who is looking at Norris as his top line center.

Norris has the skill to maintain that top line. He was second in scoring in the USNTDP last year with 61 points in as many games. Michigan has been known for turning hard-working average scorers into elite scorers. If Norris, an already a better than average scorer, benefits from the development, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see him in teal any time soon.

“I like school, both of my parents got degrees so that’s definitely a goal for me and I’m not too focused about the future,” Norris told the Detroit News. “I’m here because I wanted to be a Michigan Wolverine and whatever happens, happens, but I’m just looking forward to putting my best foot forward.”

With his focus on Michigan, the goal for Norris seems clear: take advantage of this opportunity to grow as a player, and win games for the maize and blue.

"I know a lot of the big names, like Larkin and them, they have all gone one year and done. But everyone's path is different. Just because they went one year doesn't mean I have to go one year. If it takes me two or three years to develop, then it takes me two or three years to develop. I am just going to focus on this year."

On joining the Sharks, he said, “Whenever they want me to come, they want me to come. But I’m not too worried about that. I’m at Michigan right now, I’m gonna focus on this team.”

The Wolverines opened their season last night against St. Lawrence University, defeating them 3-1.