Sunday in most cultures is the day of rest. This Sunday, June 30th in Newark, NJ within the doors of Prudential Center it will be anything but restful for all 30 NHL teams. In this new era of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and salary cap, the bread and butter to creating a winning hockey organization in the National Hockey League depends heavily upon drafting prospects – hopefully the best ones.
Today teams are expanding their scouting staff in hopes of getting as many eyes upon future NHLers and making sure no stone goes unturned. With more quantity is the notion of more quality in assisting the team’s general manager in selecting the best possible player for the organization.
More and more these days, Americans are finding themselves means of employment in the world’s top hockey league. With the growth of the game into many non-traditional markets like Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, and Carolinas more players are hearing their name at the podium who call their home country – USA.
Over the past few seasons, I have spent time in rinks viewing the top American hopefuls. My live, game-day scouting observations have been from a variety of venues like USA Hockey’s Hockey Nationals, Player Development Camps (Select 17s, 16s, and 15s), National Junior Evaluation Camp (NJEC), the inaugural All-American Prospects Game, state championships, prep venues, junior leagues, and Tier I youth play. Plus attendance at NCAA Hockey including games of the National Team Development Program (NTDP).
Below are my scouting reports on the many USA prospects from the favorites and front runners, to the dark horses, and the outsiders looking in who may just get their prayer answered by the Hockey Gods on Sunday.
Favorites & Frontrunners:
Seth Jones – Portland Winterhawks (WHL); Defenseman; DOB: 10/3/1994 – Plano, TX (Projected 1st Rounder)
I think every scout has written and said pretty much everything you could for this American studded defenseman. He inherited a tremendous frame and athleticism from his father, Popeye Jones, the former NBAer. The younger Jones is very mobile for his size and contributes routinely on the defensive and offensive side. He is very poised with the puck on his stick giving him the effortless ability to making the outlet pass or rush the biscuit up the ice as well. He also utilizes his body effectively, controls gaps well, and takes advantage of his long stick in the defensive zone. In the offensive zone Jones also displays his hockey sense, power play prowess with puck handling and playmaking, and unleashes a very dangerous shot from the point too. Time will tell if Jones will follow in the footsteps of another former USNTDP standout, Stanley Cup Champ, and Conn Smythe winner, Patrick Kane, by being selected #1 overall at the NHL Entry Draft.
Ryan Hartman – Plymouth Whalers (OHL); Forward; DOB: 9/20/1994 – West Dundee, IL (Projected 1st Rounder)
Hartman is probably the best prospect that kept getting better as the season went on. His work ethic is second to none and NHL teams are attracted to his game. He is a player that all coaches love as he give 100% every shift and every game. He plays strong in all three zones with relentless forechecking, backchecking, and agitating style. Early in August at the NJEC in Lake Placid, I thought he showed potential but his game wasn’t oozing with confidence. He then displayed his hockey intelligence by creating turnovers and plays as the All-American Prospects Game arrived and continued his strong play in his rookie OHL season in Plymouth. He might not possess high-end scoring skills though he will produce adequately and he’s a winner on the many stages of his career including recent gold at the 2013 World Junior Championships.
Adam Erne – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL); Forward; DOB: 4/20/1995 – N. Branford, CT (Projected 1st Rounder)
Erne is a skilled, power forward who just knows how to unleash a rocket of a shot and score with authority. His shot is deadly as he shows a quick release and will fool goalies coming down the wings. He has that explosive speed to his skating as he will drive hard to the net and elude defenders. He is quite strong on his boots that makes him tough to knock off puck and his agility on skates is top notch too. The beauty too about Erne is that he isn’t afraid to pound the opponent all the boards or catching a player in the open-ice with a legal body check. Just being more consistent is the aspect Erne will need to step up at the pro level, although the talent is there to become a star.
JT Compher – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 4/8/1995 – Northbrook, IL (Projected 1st or 2nd rounder)
He is one of the best overall prospects in the draft who plays all 200-feet of the rink and rarely takes a shift off. Compher does many things well and it is his effort is top notch. He can play in a variety of situations, so with that versatility many NHL teams are liking his stock. He will give you some dazzle when the puck is on his stick as he plays smart, handles the biscuit efficiently, shows a solid scoring touch, and playmaking skills. He does not shy away from the physical play, sound in his defensive end, and above-average skater for sure. He is off to the land of Blue next season, as enrolled at the University of Michigan. The fans of Ann Arbor will enjoy his heart and competitive nature if they have not already got an early glimpse of the center while with the USNTDP.
Steven Santini – USDTP-18 (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 3/7/1995 – Mahopac, NY (Project 1st of 2nd rounder)
For scouts one tournament or showcase does not say it all rather it is multiple viewings in various settings. Although Santini continued to turn heads with his strong performance at the U18 World Championships this past April in Sochi, Russia. He help lead Team USA win a silver medal and was awarded ‘Best Defenseman’ for the event. He plays a strong, aggressive game as limits opponents to any high scoring chances. He is confident with puck and will make the outlet or occasional stretch pass, though he will not create an awful lot of offensive opportunities. He is difficult to beat in the 1-on-1 situations and leads by example. He sometimes can get too forceful with the physicality, but more often plays a solid game each night with great dependability.
Jimmy Lodge – Saginaw Spirit (OHL); Forward; DOB: 3/5/1995 – Downingtown, PA (Projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)
Lodge’s game certainly seemed to grow over the last two seasons in the OHL with Saginaw. This season he again started slow production-wise but then turned it up through the winter months. He might not be the most physical and strongest kid out on the ice, and that will hopefully come with time, but he certainly shows speed, energy, and creativity in the offensive zone. He displays a nice snap shot coming down the wing or finding the open space in the slot. With his strong skating ability he is able to dart around defenders release quick shots or drive it the puck to the net too. No question he needs to consistently be more physical yet Lodge has a good upside to developing into a top forward.
Ian McCoshen – Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 8/5/1995 – Fairbault, MN (Projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)
NHL scouts have been paying attention to his game, but maybe even more so now that he will develop under Jerry York at Boston College along with fellow defenseman draftee-to-be, Steven Santini. He simply is a big, strong steady blue liner standing at 6’3” 205lbs. He plays responsible in his own end and likes to show a physical presence. He will not be a dynamic offensive-defenseman although he can find pucks to the net from the point to challenge the goalie for the save and run the power-play and unleash his strong shot. McCoshen skates fairly well, but lacks top-end speed from the back-end. He will be looked upon to shut down opponents with quality gap control from his sound positioning, long reach, and lay out punishing checks on opponents.
Justin Bailey – Kitchener Rangers (OHL); Forward; DOB: 7/1/1995 – Williamsville, NY (Projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)
It seems there still a boat load of talent waiting to be unleashed in Bailey. Many scouts over the last two seasons have been impressed with his skill and potential, although seem to walk away from the rink wanting more from the Western New York native. He has good, lanky size at 6’3” 195lbs and will flash his stick handling at times and of course impresses with his heavy shot. Have seen him snap one down the off-wing using D-man as a screen by labeling it perfectly 8-inches off the ice to the far post and then also dangle a few defenders out of the corner NHL-style for the finish. Bailey began the rookie OHL season by taking hard hit to the head resulting in a concussion and 4th line duty in Kitchener. But he started to blossom a bit as season progressed. He could be more physical especially with his big frame, quicker on skates, and consistent. Overall Bailey could develop into a beauty in the long-run though.
Brett Pesce – New Hampshire (NCAA/Hockey East); Defenseman; DOB: 11/15/1994 – Tarrytown, NY (Projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)
He will probably be the first former EJHLer and NCAA player on the board at this Sunday’s draft. Pesce is all about the defensive side of the puck. He utilizes his skating, reach, determination in winning puck battles along the boards, and awareness to shut down opponents. He was not originally scheduled to step into campus in Durham this past fall, yet still embraced the college game well in Hockey East as a true freshman. The offensive side of things is pretty limited as really does not get involved in joining rush, taking the puck himself, or throwing shots on net. He overall is a solid presence who shows good positioning in his own end.
Thomas Vannelli – Minnetonka HS (MN)/USNTP-18 (USHL); Defenseman; 1/26/1995 – Minnetonka, MN (Projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)
It was back last summer at USA Hockey’s Select 17s Camp that Vannelli really started catching the eyes of many scouts. He seemed to be a beast all over the ice using his strong skating ability. He can join the rush and chip in offensively a bit, although likes to really utilize his mobility in shutting down opponents all over the ice with his active stick and tight gap control. He has a decent shot and makes good passes. He impressed the USA Hockey folks as played at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament last August as well as joining USNTDP-18 during the season and for the U18 World Championship in April. He is headed to Minnesota to be a Golden Gopher in the fall.
Connor Hurley – Edina HS (MN); Forward; DOB: 9/15/1995 – Eagan, MN (Projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)
He is a good skater with explosive with speed and quite solid on his skates. Like most players could use more strength. He shows moves and some good stick handling. Believe his niche is being a good play maker as he is smart with puck, protects it well, and likes to set-up teammates with passes. He has a pretty creditable shot although seems to think pass first before trying to score himself. He is Notre Dame bound in 2014 so mostly likely will end up back in the USHL with Muskegon this season.
Michael Downing – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 5/19/2013 – Canton, MI (Projected 3rd or 4th rounder)
Downing seemed to start his season a bit slow although picked up the pace as his season progressed, ultimately helping his team raise the Clark Cup as USHL Champions. It was said that he was hampered by an injury in the early going in 2012-13. He is a strong two-way defenseman that plays with a chip and some nastiness. He is not afraid to join the rush and pinch in from the blue line offensively. Sometimes he plays a bit too aggressively and it distracts from his game. He brings a very solid skating game that allows him to play well along with a strong shot from the blue line. NHL teams are attracted on his sturdy frame and the fact he likes to punish opponents with his physicality. He will not be posting up big offensive numbers as more of a composed defender. Downing will be taking his game to the inaugural Big 10 Hockey Conference under the legendary Red Berenson at the University of Michigan next season.
Ryan Fitzgerald – Valley Jr. Warriors (EJHL); Forward; DOB: 10-19-1994 – N. Reading, MA (Projected 3rd or 4th rounder)
He of course comes from NHL bloodlines, as his father Tom, is a former player and currently the Assistant to the GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The younger Fitzgerald has great hockey sense and makes the most of his opportunities because of this intelligence in eluding defenders, setting up plays with his high-end vision. He stole the show at the All-American Prospects Game last September in Buffalo earning MVP honors with three helpers. He will need to bulk up his frame and continue to develop his raw talents. He picked a good spot, as will play in a top college hockey conference in Hockey East with Boston College.
Zach Sanford – Middlesex Islanders (EJHL); Forward; DOB: 11-9-1994 – Auburn, NH (Projected 3rd or 4th rounder)
Sanford was a definite riser on the draft stock market for NHL teams and even Boston College. He has good size as already 6’3” 190lbs. but is a very raw talent. Many teams are attracted because of the vast skill development this season in the EJHL and hope this trend continues as he skates around Chestnut Hill under Jerry York, after a stop in Waterloo with the Blackhawks first though. The skating stride is irregular and there isn’t an overabundance of creativity with the skills, so Sanford is effective playing a straightforward, up & down game. He is a project for the pro level, but the tools just might be in the box for the making.
Teemu Kivihalme – Burnsville HS (MN); Defenseman; DOB: 6/14/1995 – Savage, MN (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He is a player with dual citizenship from Finland and the USA, although has represented America already last summer at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. He is a very strong skater as quite agile on the blades and also possesses convincing stick handling skills. He looks effortless in rushing the puck up the ice and distributes the puck well on the power play. He could improve upon his strength, defensive responsibilities, and add more physical dimension to his game. He will certainly benefit from strength and conditioning time with Colorado College in the coming years.
Hudson Fasching – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 7/28/199 – Apple Valley, MN (Projected 2nd or 3rd rounder)
Fasching started the season with probably with the most spot light coming out of Ann Arbor and the NTDP. He skates well as generates good speed down the wing with a powerful stride, but seems to lack any real high end stick skills and finishing touch. He does a lot of good things out on the ice, rather than being a dynamic scorer. He will pressure hard on the forecheck, win battles along the walls, and make those small touches passes to open space for teammates. Doesn’t quite have high-end mitts and seemed snake-bitten this season. Will be interesting to see where this power forward ends up in draft. Fasching will play under Don Lucia in Minnesota who evidently will be coaching Team USA at the World Junior Tournament this winter.
Michael McCarron – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 3/7/1995 – Macomb, MI (Projected 2nd rounder or 3rd rounder)
Many scouts and writers have been drooling over the Western Michigan commit all season. Personally from my perspective I don’t see the high-end dynamic power forward that many speak about in McCarron. He is obviously intriguing because of his physical presence and strength, yet he didn’t create enough offensive opportunity on a consistent base to rank high. There have been plays where you start to almost get impressed with his game, and then like that he is losing puck battles, taking ill-advised penalty, or getting knocked off the puck. His skating is average at best and puck skills so-so, yet he can shoot well. I question the hockey IQ as well, but like all draft picks you hope that the peak game comes in the future and many feel McCarron will develop into a solid NHLer.
Jake Guentzel – Sioux City (USHL); Forward: DOB: 10/6/1994 – Woodbury, MN (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
Guentzel is one of those late ‘94s that shows undersized on the roster but plays big out on the ice. The Minnesota native produced well in his rookie USHL campaign and for his efforts was awarded ‘Rookie of the Year’ in the league. He is a competitive player who works well at both ends of the rink. He brings a bit of a chip on his shoulder with a solid two-way game. He has good offensive creativity with a quick step that seems to always be around the puck. His stick handling skills are deceiving and scores in a variety of ways. He is strong at the dots and can play physical or the finesse style. He will play for Dean Blais at Nebraska-Omaha for the upcoming season.
Tyler Motte – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 3/10/1995 – St. Claire, MI – (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He is another one of the players staying in Ann Arbor to continue his hockey career though this season at the University of Michigan joining Compher and Evan Allen. He plays a solid two-way game as he will forecheck aggressively and takes care of his own end as well. He is an average sized player who skates very well. He shows good speed and offensive know-how. He isn’t afraid to take the puck into traffic to try and make things happen. He plays a strong game on both sides of the puck. He often plays like a buzz-saw out there on the ice and has sound stick handling skills. He is overall effective in all situations. He will not be dominant as on the smaller side, though his skills are present. The biggest concern for the NHL ranks is his size and strength.
Will Butcher – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 1/6/1995 – Sun Prairie, WI (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He played quarterback with NTDP on the power-play as he can distribute the puck. He also likes to get involved offensively by rushing the biscuit up himself. Butcher isn’t that big although he skates well and loves to join up on the rush to display his offensive abilities and thoughts. He is solid with decision making as fairly poised with the puck on his stick and excellent in getting puck on net with quick wrister. He will need to gain strength and play more defensively sound in his positioning for the future. He is a smart player who sees the ice although sometimes got caught out of position defensively, yet is savvy enough to recover. He is headed west to play for the newly hired Jim Montgomery at Denver University (NCHC).
Connor Clifton – USNTDP-18; Defenseman; DOB: 4/28/1995 – Matawan, NJ (Projected 3rd or 4th rounder)
He is one of a handful of American prospects that have developed their game through the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL), though most recently with the USNTDP. Clifton usually will play a very aggressive and active game style. He is solid in front of his own net by tying up sticks and blocking shots. For not being overly big, he will certainly dish out a body check as a feisty competitor. He shows good offensive instincts as well finding the open man or get shots on the net. He has decent puck skills as will make the quick outlet pass, decent skater, and displays a sound defensive game. He was recently selected at the OHL Priority Draft in May although is set to join the NCAA Runner-Up, Quinnipiac Bobcats in the fall.
Evan Allen – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 2/3/1995 – Sterling Heights, MI (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
Still don’t think Allen is given enough credit on a team that is heavily scouted throughout the year. Allen is not exceptional at any one skill but rather brings strong hockey intelligence and resilience each night. He constantly makes smart plays throughout the game and loves to shoot the puck with his strong snapper or wrister. That was evident as he notched his team’s only two-goals at the All-American Prospects Game as he simply found the back of the net by being at the right place at the right time — hockey sense. He competes hard all over the ice with forecheck, backcheck, or setting his teammates up with his good vision. He might not have the size advantage or elite stick skills, though he shows a solid game each and every night. He is off to Ann Arbor again this fall, but this time will pull on the Wolverine jersey for the University of Michigan.
Brian Pinho – St. John’s Prep (MA); Forward; DOB: 5/1/1995 – Beverley, MA (Projected 3rd or 4th rounder)
He has the potential to become a great player. Plays all zones of the ice well but doesn’t jump out at you. He will make those soft, little passes and shows speed and offensive instincts. May not be one of the most dynamic ‘95ers but has good hockey sense, works hard every shift, and could still blossom. Starting to hear more chatter on the Providence College commit with the draft is closing in. He is off to the New England Prep ranks of Kimball Union Academy (KUA) this coming season.
Anthony Florentino – Selects Academy (CT); Defenseman; DOB: 1/30/1995 – W. Roxbury, MA (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He has good, stocky size and shows a bit of an edge to his defensive-minded game. Florentino has decent skills and will make a good first pass. He has pretty good mobility, plays hard-nosed, reads the play well, and will occasionally carry the puck up ice. He is a Providence College recruit for 2014.
John Hayden – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 2/14/1995 – Greenwich, CT (Projected 3rd or 4th rounder)
Hayden will not give off the “wow” factor offensively. He does not possess high-end speed either, though will play smart, simple game and make the most of his chances. His stick handling ability is questionable, but he plays a tough, two-way grinding game. He will give an honest effort on the forecheck, backcheck, as he comes with energy. He is off to join the NCAA Champions, Yale Bulldogs, in the fall.
Wiley Sherman – Hotchkiss (CT); Defenseman; DOB: 5/24/1995 – Greenwich, CT (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
Sherman is quite mobile for a big guy as fluid and smooth at 6’6” 200lbs. Almost the same size as his former Hotchkiss teammate and NHL prospect, Tyler Hill. Good defensive anticipation and very effective reach. He will not produce much offensively but will submerge himself below the offensive blue-line to stir-up offense and pinch to keep play in the zone. He often makes the right decision with the puck and can be relied upon. Sherman is headed off to Harvard Yard in 2014.
Taylor Cammarata – Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL); Forward: DOB: 5/13/1995 – Plymouth, MN (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He is a deceptive and crafty player that utilizes his speed and elusiveness as he lacks on size chart for sure. He is shifty and likes to play down low in the offensive zone to create scoring chances by faking defenders and releasing quick shots. He led the USHL in goals and points and showed he can score in a variety of ways. He has showed vision and finish at all levels from prep ranks with Shattuck St. Mary’s to Tier 1 junior ranks. If he was above 6-foot mark, he probably would be in the discussion as a 1st round prospect. Cammarata is off to Big 10 Hockey Conference next season as he will suit up for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Sean Malone – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 4/30/1995 – West Seneca, NY (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
He plays a sound overall game from front to back without the hype. His size and strength is not quite what it needs to be and this sometimes prohibits him from reaching the next level. He brings a competitive nature each shift and will display some beauty offensive talents with of slick stick handling, speed, and vision. The former Nichols School product performed adequately with NTDP-18 this past season and a Harvard commit for 2014.
Calvin Petersen – Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL); Goalie: DOB: 10/19/1994 – Waterloo, IA (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He is a decent sized butter-fly goaltender just over the 6-foot mark. He does well in covering the lower half of the net and moves fairly well laterally. He tends to go down early at times leaving the top half of the net exposed and as a south paw sometimes tends to mishandle the puck out outside his crease. Petersen uses his 6’2” frame to his advantage challenging the shooters, is fairly athletic, and controls rebounds adequately. He is enrolling at Notre Dame come fall time.
Nick Hutchinson – Avon Old Farms (CT); Forward; DOB: 4/27/1995 – Hicksville, NY (Projected 7th rounder)
He is a lanky-sized forward that prepped along with past Long Island Royal teammate, Daniel LaFontaine, at AOF for the Winged Beavers. He excels in all three zones by being physical along the walls, shows a chirpy attitude on the ice to intimidate, and offensively displays good thoughts. His skating is average but will drive puck to net and fire some quick shots with authority. He will be a project though one team might be looking to take a shot.
Luke Johnson – Lincoln Stars (USHL); Forward; DOB: 9/19/1994 – Grand Forks, ND (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
He is a solid skater with a good, long stride. He plays a genuine two-way game as will bang it up when called upon, but also has the skill to handle the puck and find the open teammate. He is able to release his nice quick, hard shots on net. He did not find the score sheet as much as scheduled in the USHL this past season, though was not for the lack of effort. The Grand Forks native is going back to North Dakota in 2014 to join the Fighting Sioux in the NCAA ranks.
Cole Cassels – Oshawa Generals (OHL); Forward; DOB: 5/4/1995 – Dublin, OH (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He has an offensive mindset and can see some similarities in him to his father’s game. He looks to be more of a playmaker than a pure scorer type like his old man too. He has some decent hands and sense, although at times he could have put it in overdrive to finish the play, but either backs down or dumps the puck into the zone. His skating stride is average with no real high gear. A team might take a shot base on the NHL genes and hopes the development comes.
Eamon McAdam – Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL); Goalie; DOB: 9/24/1994 – Perkasie, PA (Projected 4th or 5th rounder)
He tracks pucks fairly well and shows his quick reflexes down low. He handles rebounds soundly and overall his technique was fairly solid. He is good sized for a goalie at 6’2” and plays athletic. Even after being beaten he still looks focused as keeps recovering well and moving laterally fairly quickly. He plays the butter-fly style like many with bigger frame and does good job of committing shooter first before dropping down. He will be headed back home this season as he helps Penn St. in their inaugural season at the NCAA Division I level.
Michael Brodzinski – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 5/28/1995 – Ham Lake, MN (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
He is a powerful and smooth skater and you can see his offensive upside. He handles the puck very well and is quite deceptive with moves coming from the back-end. He makes very good passes each time and you can see his hockey sense in positioning and anticipation. He will be part of a strong collegiate program at the University of Minnesota for the upcoming season.
Alex Kile – Green Bay Gamblers (USHL); Forward; DOB: 7/9/1994 – Troy, MI (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
He comes from the well-established Honeybaked program in Detroit and most recently with a two-year stint in the USHL in Green Bay. He shows high-end puck skills and great creativity to make opportunity for him and teammates. He has a decent shot with strong skating stride and will battle for pucks along the boards, although is not highly physical. He sometimes tends to be a bit on the selfish side and could develop into a more well-rounded player if he distributed the puck more. He was bypassed at last year’s draft and could be a late rounder on Sunday. Regardless, he will be able to develop his game at Michigan this season.
Trevor Moore –Tri-City Storm (USHL); Forward: DOB: 3/31/1995 – Thousand Oaks, CA (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
He shows good offensive instincts but not a dominant player. He has good thoughts and skills with the puck and willing to drive the puck to the net despite his small size. He is quick and shifty, works hard, although efforts do not always show through on the scoring column. He will find the open spaces to be a scoring threat to utilize his compelling shot. Moore often forechecks well to cause turnovers with his tenacity and active stick. He is set to join the newly formed NCHC under recently hired Jim Montgomery at Denver University this fall.
Ross Olsson – Cedar Rapids Roughriders (USHL); Forward; DOB: 11/22/1994 – Billerica, MA (Projected 7th rounder)
Olsson came into the USHL with high expectations set by the Central Scouting Bureau as was given a preliminary ‘A’ grade ranking last summer coming out of the New England prep ranks. He originally started in Lincoln and struggled a bit as unhappy, but then started to blossom after a mid-season trade to Cedar Rapids. He is not the dynamically skilled player, but plays very effective when skating north-south with the nasty streak. The skating is average, but he can fire the biscuit well and brings strong net front presence with great agitating style. He began the season in rough manner, but ended in pretty good fashion with tripled output with the RoughRiders. His off-ice attitude is second to none and the raw potential is there for a conceivable late round selection. He will head back for second season in USHL before heading to Northeastern in 2014.
Blake Heinrich – Sioux City (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 2/17/1995 – Cambridge, MN (Projected 7th rounder)
He is smart, steady, strong D-man who plays the body quite well. He is not overly skilled but overall plays an effective game. He makes some good stretch and break-out passes. Heinrich skates fairly well up and down the ice with lateral movements needing some improvement but his aggressiveness jumps out at you in his game. He will enter the Minnesota-Duluth for the upcoming campaign.
Gage Ausmus – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 4/22/1995 – E. Grand Forks, MN (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
Ausmus does not get a lot of press as some of the other NTDP blue liners, yet he has drawn NCAA eyes as he will be off to play for the newly acquired Denver University coach, Jim Montgomery, this upcoming season. He certainly takes care of his own end first and foremost, although will engage on the offensive side a bit too. Ausmus is not overly flashy with skills or skating abilities. He will make smart plays on the penalty kill, breaking up plays in defensive zone, and keeps game simple by making the first pass in transition.
Ryan Segalla – Salisbury Prep (CT); Defenseman; DOB: 12/29/1994 – Hanover, MA (Projected 7th rounder)
He is a good skater that plays with a defensive mind first and some plain out nastiness. Pretty well-sized that makes difficulties for opponents in front of the net, in the corners, and along the boards. He is tough to beat on the 1-on-1 situations as active stick checks and mobility. It appears sometimes his aggressive style of play gets in the way of his game and trouble brews. He possesses a heavy shot from the point but will need to improve upon his puck-moving decisions. Segalla is set to join the newly appointed Mike Cavanaugh at UConn next year in 2014.
Gabe Guertler – Fargo Force (USHL); Forward; DOB: 5/3/1995 – Plantation, FL (Projected 7th rounder)
He is on the smaller side but is willing to play in the greasy areas as he will drive the puck to the net and fight for the biscuit along the boards. He shows good patience with the puck in the offensive zone as he protects the puck well, will find the open man, or pop one in for the goal. He is a shifty skater and displays good anticipation skills to create turnovers and scoring opportunities quickly coming back the other way. He sometimes can force plays but overall brings a solid game. Guertler is another strong recruit headed to Minnesota of the Big 10 Hockey Conference this fall.
Connor Light – Phillips Andover Academy (MA); Defenseman; DOB: 2/8/1995 – Andover MA (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
A well-sized D-man that competed in the New England Prep ranks for Andover this past season. He plays on the aggressive side in his own zone by clearing forwards out in front of the net or giving punishing checks along the boards. The offensive side is lacking and there is room for growth in his game. He has yet to commit to any college and may find himself maturing his game in the USHL with Omaha or could possibly make jump to the QMJHL with Chicoutimi.
Tyler Hill – Hotchkiss Prep/Chicago Steel (UHL); Forward; DOB: 4/13/1995 – Hagersville, Ont. (Projected 6th or 7th rounder)
He garnered a lot of talk with college, junior, and NHL scouts last summer at Select 17s camp. He has a massive size of 6’6” 200lbs and that’s why many were drawn to this prospect. He is a very big body with above average skating and stick handling skills for big-frame player. Likes to play the body at times and be physical. He definitely has some upside offensive skills too. Skates fairly well and can protect puck, with good shot and decent vision. He is a power forward type that could be more dominant. Plays very tough and works hard, but sometimes left with no results, but potential is there. Some team might be willing to develop his rawness. At this time Hill is uncommitted to any college and has options for the USHL again or OHL.
Vinni Lettieri – Lincoln Stars (USHL); Forward; DOB: 2/6/1995 – Minnetonka, MN (Projected 7th rounder)
Lettieri comes from Minnesota with a hockey family tree. He is a very quick and explosive skater so he generates his sheer offense with his skating abilities. He shows that he has a knack around the net with good vision. He owns a solid hockey IQ by supporting the puck and arranges nice passing plays up the ice. He is physically smaller in size, thus will need to add some muscle to his frame while playing for Don Lucia at Minnesota.
Miles Wood – Nobles Prep (MA); Forward; DOB: 9/13/1995 – Buffalo, NY (Projected 7th rounder)
He skates with a bit of a choppy stride though it does not stop him from driving the middle lane to the net in creating scoring opportunities. Wood comes built in a decent size frame who gives a good effort each and every shift. He shows some decent pick skills and isn’t afraid to finish his checks. He is three days away from being draft eligible for 2014 and the Western New Yorker is uncommitted to the NCAA and undrafted by any junior organization.
Grant Besse – Benilde-St. Margaret’s HS (MN); Forward; DOB: 7/14/1994 – Edina, MN (Projected 7th rounder)
He is a naturally talented goal scorer with great offensive instincts. He shoots to score and will be taking his game to Madison and Big 10 Hockey with the Wisconsin Badgers in Fall 2014. Not quite sure if he is a pro prospect as already bypassed at last year’s draft as average in size, speed, needed strength, and requires the deletion of taking shifts off from time to time. He may just develop a bit later during NCAA career and be a nice free agent signing.
Outsiders looking in:
Keaton Thompson – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 9/14/1995 – Devils Lake, ND
Thomas Aldsworth – Cushing Academy (MA); Forward; DOB: 4/30/1995 – Brownsville, TN
Frank Dichiara – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL); Defenseman: DOB: 922/1993 – Ronkonkoma, NY
Dakota Mermis – London Knights (OHL); Defenseman; DOB: 1/5/1994 – Alton, IL
Jason Salvaggio – Selects Academy (CT); Forward; DOB: 10/10/1994 – Hanson, MA
Tyler Kelleher – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 1/2/1995 – Longmeadow, MA
Parker Reno – Edina HS (MN); Defenseman; DOB: 1/20/1995 – Edina, MN
Avery Peterson – Grand Rapids HS (MN); Forward; DOB: 6/20/1995 – Grand Rapids, MN
Jonathan Brodzinski – St. Cloud St. (NCAA/WCHA); Forward; DOB: 6/19/1993 – Blaine, MN
Neal Pionk –Hermantown HS (MN); Defenseman; DOB: 7/29/1995 – Omaha, NE
Andrew Copp – Michigan (NCAA/CCHA); Forward; DOB: 7/8/1994 – Ann Arbor, MI
Alex Iafallo – Fargo Force (USHL); Forward; DOB: 12/21/1993 – Eden, NY
Zach Glienke – Eagan HS (MN); Forward; DOB: 12/2/1994 – Eagan, MN
Jacob Jackson – Tartan HS (MN); Forward; DOB: 12/5/1994 – Oakdale, MN
Willie Raskob – Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep (MN), Defenseman; DOB: 3/14/1995 – Hastings, MN
Clint Lewis – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Defenseman; DOB: 1/12/1995 – Burnsville, MN
John Stevens – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL); Forward; DOB: 4/17/1994 – Sicklerville, NJ
Anthony Louis – USNTDP-18 (USHL); Forward; DOB: 2/10/1995 – Winfield, IL
Daniel LaFontaine – Avon Old Farms Prep (CT), Forward: 5/20/1995 – Lloyd Harbor, NY
Quin Pompi – Berkshire Prep (MA); Defenseman; DOB: 9/21/1994 – Springfield, PA
Thomas Ebbing – Chicago Steel (USHL); Forward; DOB: 9/28/1994 – Troy, MI
Eddie Ellis – Phillips Andover Academy (MA); Forward; DOB: 1/12/1005 – Burlington, MA
Christopher Forney – Thief River Falls HS (MN); Defenseman; DOB: 11/20/1994 – Thief River Falls, MN
Quentin Shore – Denver University (NCAA/WCHA); Forward; DOB: 5/25/1994 – Denver, CO
Matt Lane – Boston University (NCAA/Hockey East); Forward; DOB: 3/15/1994 – Rochester, NY
Tyler Vessel – Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep (MN); Forward; DOB: 4/14/1994 – Rochester, MN
Cole Bardreau – Cornell University (NCAA/ECAC); Forward; DOB: 7/22/1993 – Fairport, NY
Tyler Andrew – Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL); Forward; DOB: 4/22/1994 – Bethel Park, PA
Jacob Montgomery – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL); Forward; DOB: 6/8/1994 – Oakdale, MN
Dakota Ford – Middlesex Islanders (EJHL); Defenseman; DOB: 4/29/1995 – Potsdam, NY
Anthony Brodeaur – Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep (MN): Goalie; DOB: 1/7/1995 – Essex Falls, NJ
Brendan Burke – Portland Winterhawks (WHL); Goalie; DOB: 3/11/1995 – Scottsdale, AZ
Devin Tringale – Valley Jr. Warriors (EJHL); Forward; DOB: 9/21/1993 – Medford, MA
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