U16s at Nationals: The Forwards
Here are our rankings from the U16 Division at U.S. Nationals in Green Bay, April 2-6.
In the championship game, Team Wisconsin edged the Colorado Thunderbirds, 2-1, when defenseman Anthony Stillwell, a Green Bay native, scored the game-winner in the fourth overtime period.
In the semis, the Thunderbirds shut out Omaha AAA 1-0, and Team Wisconsin did the same to the St. Louis Blues, by a 2-0 score.
This document -- 100 players are ranked -- has taken a little while to pull together. And we have to warn you that it’s a long one. As a matter of fact, it is so long that we couldn't get it into one file, so we broke it up into two sections, with forwards in Part I and defensemen and goalies in Part II.
1. Trent Frederic (LC, #7 St. Louis Blues, 6-2/180, ’98) – Frederic, who went into the tournament as perhaps the top uncommitted prospect in the country, committed to the University of Wisconsin only days afterward. A St. Louis native, who’s next stop will be the NTDP, has the frame and skating ability to be a high-end NHLer in the future. It is hard to pinpoint his best attributes, as he possesses so many -- a long fluid stride, excellent agility, size, hands that are both quick and soft. Frederic is not necessarily a cerebral type of player, but he does have a lot poise and waits to make his move. A center, he wins a lot of draws -- likely north of 70% -- and has impressive hand-eye coordination. His shot is prolific both in velocity and we also liked his physical play. When entering the zone at full speed, Frederic was untouchable. The knock on him? His lack of acceleration and thin build. As he fills out, he will likely become more of a physical presence on the forecheck and in front of his own net. He’ll also likely improve his first three steps. In addition, we noticed that his compete level was not totally consistent, but when he turned it on…watch out.
2. Graham McPhee (LF, #21 Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 5-11/165,’98) -- The BC commit was one of the most exciting players to watch in this age group in Green Bay. McPhee has soft hands, elite stickhandling ability, and a plethora of jukes and dekes. He has high-end athleticism, hand-eye coordination, and hockey instincts that allow him to go into a crowded area and come out with possession. While we love his creativity and confidence with the biscuit, his energy and edge are inconsistent -- sometimes he’s too hyped up, aimlessly throwing his body around and at other times he’s less than fully involved. In the big picture, however, he has size, speed, strength, and hands. He projects well. Will suit up for NTDP U17 team next season. He was 3-0-3 on the week and finished the season averaging a point per game with a 28-30-58 line. Sarnia Sting drafted McPhee in the 9th round of the OHL draft this year. The son of George McPhee, the former Washington Capitals GM who played at Bowling Green for Jerry York, winning the Hobey Baker Award in 1982.
3. Tarek Baker (LW, #9 Omaha AAA, 5-11/185, ’97) -- The former Verona (Wisc.) HS player put himself on the radar last year with Omaha’s U16 squad, scoring 95 points in 67 games, then following that up with a 42-105-147 line in 63 games this season. Baker, who played a few early-season USHL games with Des Moines, has an explosive first step, elite speed and a great shot that he gets off as fast as anyone here. His hands are both smooth and strong as he does a great job of not over-exposing the puck, but when he has no room to move he can certainly deke his way out of trouble. His poise in the offensive end and speed through the neutral zone will fit in well at the University of Minnesota, to whom he committed in September. From what we saw, Baker is a complete player who pays attention in his own end and does all the little things – tying ties up his guy on the draw, blocking shots, battling in the dirty areas, protecting the puck. Our only reservation is our feeling that Baker tended to play on the perimeter and passed up chances to penetrate the interior of the defense to create shooting opportunities. Not that his passing is poor, quite the contrary, but he wastes his shot, which is excellent. As a ’97, he was on the older side here.
4. Patrick Khodorenko (LC, #13 HoneyBaked, 5-11/185, late ’98) -- The Walnut Creek, Calif. native was the leading scorer for #1-ranked Honeybaked with a 9-21-30 line in 22 HPHL matchups, and will play with the NTDP next season. Khodorenko can play a north-south power forward style of play, beating you with power and strength. He also has ultra-soft hands and elite moves in 1-on-1 situations, is a gifted passer and, with his strength and balance, can hold onto the puck for that extra second, lure the defense to him, absorb a hit and make a tape-to-tape pass. We feel Khodorenko’s #1 asset is his vision, although you can say the same of his stickhandling. From cross-corner dumps to a streaking winger to backdoor feeds on the powerplay to perfectly-placed indirect passes Khodorenko showed he is a strong intuitive player who seems to know where everyone is on the ice and possesses the skill to get the puck there. The knock is his speed. He is not at all slow, but he does not have that extra gear the very top players possess. Was held to 2 goals in 4 games on the week. His WHL rights are owned by the Everett Silvertips
5. Mike Pastujov (F, #21 HoneyBaked, 6-0/180, ’99) -- The younger brother of Nick Pastujov, the Bradenton, Florida native was the youngest player on the best U16 team in the country, averaging nearly a point per game in the HPHL with a 7-6-13 line in 14 games. Pastujov has high-level hands and can maneuver through traffic areas, is lethal in front of the net and is able to cradle through the neutral zone. He also puts the perfect amount of zip and touch on his passes – you’ll rarely see one bounce off a stick. One of the top ‘99s in the country, Pastujov has a rare combination of size and skill, finding the back of the net twice in four games here. His composure and leg strength have improved, but he will need to continue to develop his speed and lateral movement. Questions remain about whether he will be taking the college or major junior route.
6. Dante Palecco (LW, #15 Long Island Gulls, 5-11/165, ’98) -- The Yale commit was on the tournament’s most prolific scorers with a 3-5-8 line in only 3 games. Palecco is smooth, with elite speed. He’s a goal scorer who can score from long range or in tight. He is responsible in his own end, covers the points, and can come down for support when needed. He gets his stick in passing lanes well and is quick to transition the puck up ice. In 24 AYHL games with the Gulls he produced an impressive 34-19-53 line. His goals to assists ratio is not surprising, but he can also seek 1-on-1 situations instead of using the players on his team to create opportunities. In that sense, we think Palecco will need to improve his hockey sense and use his teammates more often and more effectively if he wishes his talent to translate well to the next level. That said, the Whippany, NJ native is as dynamic in the offensive zone as anyone here, scoring 2 goals in the first 5 minutes of the game against the Chicago Mission, with one on a beautiful breakaway.
7. Nick Pastujov (LC/LW, #9 HoneyBaked, 6-0/186, ’98) -- Nick Pastujov got a lot of attention in Green Bay, with a lot of talk about whether he would be taking the college or major junior route (he’s a 4th round Saginaw Spirit pick). However, for now he has accepted a spot on the NTDP’s U17 team. Pastujov recorded a 6-13-19 line in 15 HPHL game this season. He is a strong skater with quick, sturdy hands and fast reflexes. While not the prettiest skater, he is strong on his feet. He’s balanced, protects the puck well, made a few dekes on defensemen and then used his strength to drive the net to create scoring chances. His speed and agility are behind the rest of his game but his puck possession skills and creativity with the puck set him apart. The Bradenton, Florida native – and dual citizen (Russia) -- had a 2-1-3 line in 4 games. We thought his overall effort could have been better. Some might have him higher on their lists but we were expecting more out of the blue-chip prospect.
8. Sam Sternschein (RF, #21 Long Island Gulls, 6-2/170, ’98) -- The Syosset, NY native, who committed to Cornell in November, took his game to another level here. At 6-2/170, Sternschein is tall and thin, but his stride is long and fluid although he is not yet as strong as he should be on his edges. He has soft hands and great hockey sense, with the ability to find teammates and make smart decisions with the puck. He made some terrific passes in all three zones, with one-touch passes while on the boards on the breakout, long cross-ice passes through the neutral zone and crafty, no-look cross-crease passes in the offensive zone. In 3 games he put up 4 goals and 3 assists for a total of 7 points, among the highest scorers in the whole tournament. Sternschein is versatilite -- he can go wide with speed, or can cut to the middle and stickhandle around the defense, or he can post up and shoot the puck. The knock on Sternschein, who has similarities to fellow Big Red commit Beau Starrett, is that it takes him awhile to hit top speed and that he doesn’t play with enough of an edge.
9. Mitchell Lewandowski (LW, #71 HoneyBaked, 5-8/157, ’98) -- The Clinton Township, Michigan native was the leading scorer on his team, with a 13-16-29 in 22 HPHL games. Here at Nationals, the Michigan State commit had a 1-1-2 line in 4 games and was also irrelevant for long stretches. Lewandowski has elite shooting ability, being able to shoot at top speed with both power and accuracy. While he lacks size, he is strong on his skates. He is quick and elusive, too, and will make opponents look silly if they try to play the puck on him. He needs to improve his play away from the puck and become stronger and faster to be effective at the next level.
10. Wade Allison (RW, #44 Omaha AAA, 6-1/201, late ’97) -- The Manitoba native and Western Michigan fall ’16 commit is an ideal power forward. He has straight-line north-south speed, crashes the net, plays physically, has deceptively soft hands and a powerful stride that makes him tough to handle down low. The 2012 2nd round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft, Allison is the most college-ready player in this age group, and should get considerable NHL attention in a couple of years. Before that, he will need to improve his agility and lateral movement. He can get tunnel vision at times, but he is a pure power forward with a lot of tools at his disposal. Scored 4 goals in 5 games here, including the game winner in overtime against St. Louis. This past season he had a 62-71-133 line in 68 games.
11. James Sanchez (F, #61 CYA, 6-2/185, ’98) -- Sanchez is a raw prospect who is all over the place at times and, despite his big frame, was only able to produce a 7-13-20 line in 27 league games this season. At Nationals he was 1-2-3 in 4 games and was an absolute force. He is big, strong and skates with a purpose. When he makes contact with an opposing player, which is often, they feel it. His hands are not high-end but they are better than he gets credit for and he has good command of the puck in tight spaces, especially in front of the net. While he is still a work in progress and has a way to go, he is a low-risk prospect with tremendous upside. If he can add another gear in his skating, and become a little more dynamic and hungry for the puck, he will, at the very least, become a solid, two-way power forward who can contribute in all situations. The Northbrook, Illinois native was drafted in the OHL by the London Knights, but all indications are that the recent NTDP commit will attend the University of Michigan, to whom he verbally committed in January.
12. Sam McCormick (RW, #17 Team Wisconsin, 5-10/168,’97) -- McCormick, an Ohio State commit said to be heading to Sioux City (USHL) next season, is an elite goal scorer who had a 32-20-52 line in 37 regular season games. His shot has no real flaws, he is explosive getting it off, it has power and velocity, and he has great control and command of where it is going. More than the technique and results is the fact that he always has his head up, surveying the goalie and looking for holes. And once he finds it, he delivers it quickly. McCormick is a strong skater with a low center making him hard to knock off the puck. He is particularly effective coming off the wall or out of the corner as his first three steps are quick enough to get him to a shooting space. He lacks end-to-end speed, but every team is looking for goal scorers and he is all of that.
13. Jason Dhooghe (LW, #14 Chicago Mission, 5-7/141, ’97) -- Out of Aurora, Illinois, Dhooghe, an Ohio State commit, is a smart, instinctual player with a high skill level. He is undersized but hits hard. His hands are smooth and he has a high level of poise and confidence with the puck, never throwing it away. His shot doesn’t get much attention as most people are too busy watching his stickhandling and puck possession skills, but he has a lot of zip on it and gets it off quickly. (Dhooghe’s younger brother, Sean, our #4-ranked prospect at the U14 Nationals, committed to Ohio State after the tournament.)
14. Troy Terry (RW, #19 Colorado Thunderbirds, 5-11/160, late ’97) -- The Indiana Ice draft pick and Denver commit from Highlands Ranch, Colorado led his team in points this season with a 16-25-41 line in 31 games, 11 points better than the next-highest scorer. Terry has poise with the puck, slick hands and high-end hockey sense that allows him to slow the game down and exploit the holes in the defense. Terry appears to be a student of the game and appeared to pick apart different defenders in different ways. He knows where his teammates are on the ice, where the pressures are, where the holes are -- and then finds ways to get to open ice and create offense. He was one of the tournament’s leading scorers with a 4-4-8 line in 6 games including two game-winning goals.
15.Ty Pelton-Byce (LC, #19 Team Wisconsin, 6-2/180, ’97) -- Pelton-Byce was one of our favorite prospects here. The Madison, Wisconsin native has a high compete level, plays physically, and has a motor that never stops running. Pelton-Byce is a true center who plays the full length of the ice, supports his wingers, and is always the first guy back on defense. The best part of his game is his forecheck, where he is relentless, forcing turnovers. Pelton-Byce, a UMass commit, is a north-south skater but lacks high-end speed and agility. He’s slow out the gate, which is something he will need to focus on over the next few seasons. He led Team Wisconsin in scoring here with a 4-4-8 line in 6 games, getting on the board in all six games. During the regular season, Pelton-Byce led Team Wisconsin in points with a 17-36-53 line in 35 games. Muskegon Lumberjacks 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick.
16.Tanner Laczynski (RC, #8 Chicago Mission, 5-10/161, ’97) -- Laczynski is tall and thin and looks as if he could easily be taken off the puck. But that doesn’t happen: Laczynski has exceptional hands, and moves the puck to places where his teammates can make plays. A cerebral, perimeter-type player who uses his vision and hands to create time and space and exploit the defense with crisp, accurate passes, the Shorewood, Illinois native is never in a rush, rarely getting rid of the puck without knowing its destination. Was the Mission’s leading scorer with a 20-18-38 line in 25 games. The playmaker with a finisher’s blade committed to Ohio State along with linemate Jason Dhooghe, but will likely play a year or two with the Chicago Steel (USHL).
17. Joseph Cipollone (LC, #16 Selects Academy, 5-9/155, ’97) -- The recent UNH commit out of Purchase, NY led Selects in points with a 2-2-4 line in 3 games here. Cipollone plays the game at a fast pace and uses his skill -- exceptionally quick and agile feet to go with his soft hands -- to advantage. Cippolone is a gifted playmaker with vision and passing ability. He roams the perimeter on the powerplay and has tremendous poise with the puck. We like his versatility and craftiness with the puck but, more importantly, he competed at both ends and isn’t afraid to make the simple play whether it’s chipping pucks out of his end or picking up sticks in front of his net. Given his lack of size he will need to improve his lower body strength and balance to be a top six guy at UNH but it’s well within his reach. Cippolone was the second-leading scorer on his team this season, amassing a 14-25-39 line in 27 league games.
18. Cole Gallant (RW, #98 HoneyBaked, 5-10/170, ’98) -- The Dover, Florida native played on HoneyBaked’s top line along side Lewandowski and Khodorenko, but was kept off the sheet in 4 games here. We do question his ability to finish, having watched him against Buffalo, a game in which he was unable to convert on three different breakaway opportunities. On the other hand, Gallant impressed with his speed and poise through the neutral zone, creating time and space for his linemates off the forecheck by entering the zone with speed and playing the body. He remains uncommitted at this point but is said to have several offers. Was drafted by the Guelph Storm in the 4th round in this year’s OHL draft.
19. William Knieram (RW, #92 Chicago Mission, 6-3/207, ’98) – Though one of the youngest players on his team, Knierman has tremendous size and strength. He protects the puck well, uses his reach and drives the net with a purpose. A prototypical power forward type, he is a lot to handle down low and in the corners and has enough skill to get his scoring opportunities. We would like to see him shoot the puck more and use his strength to gain better body position in front of the net but he is a massive two-way forward who plays the body and plays to the whistle. He was 2-1-3 in 4 games which put him 4th on the team in this tournament. The high selection in the OHL – he was selected in the 2nd round of the OHL draft by the Owen Sound Attack -- has us assuming the Skokie, Ill. native will take the major junior route. Was also at the NTDP U17 camp.
20. Grant Jozefek (LW, #95 Long Island Gulls, 5-9/165, late ’97) -- The Chester, NY native played this past season with the New Jersey Hitmen U18 team, leading them in scoring -- 14-21-35 line in 22 games -- despite being one of the youngest players on the team. Jozefek has silky-smooth hands, a quick shot, and the willingness and focus to play at both ends of the ice. Jozefek plays the game physically, blocks shots, takes the hit to make the play, battles along the boards, and isn’t afraid to chip the puck deep in the zone and go after it. Once he maintains possession he can slow the game down, and is patient with the puck. He will need to improve his skating -- both speed and acceleration -- to reach his potential but he has a good foundation in place. Not the best showing here, but solid in all areas. He committed to Northeastern in December after being drafted in the first round of the USHL Futures Draft by Muskegon. Is also a late-round pick of the Plymouth Whalers (OHL).
21. Noah Lalonde (LW, #87 HoneyBaked, 5-10/170, ’98) – Yet another Michigan State commit from the Honeybaked team, Lalonde is not a pretty skater, nor is he fast but he is a hound on the puck and highly productive in the offensive zone. In 22 games in the HPHL he produced a 5-12-17 line and led his team at Nationals with a 2-2-4 line in 4 games. Lalonde is a three-zone player who competes for loose pucks, drives the net, has a strong stick in front of the net, and loves the mix it up in the corners. He will need to improve his straight-line speed and become a more dynamic skater before suiting up for the Spartans (fall ’16). Was drafted in the 11th round by the Plymouth Whalers (OHL).
22. Kailer Yamamoto (RC, #17 LA Jr. Kings, 5-6/135, late ’98) -- Yamamoto is a smooth, polished skater with great acceleration in transition and high-level playmaking skills. He makes passes to where his teammates will be and not always to where they are -- he favors the saucer pass -- and is able to process the game at a fast pace. He sometimes stay on the perimeter too long given his size but we are impressed with his passing touch, and delivery -- just a quick look and the puck is on a teammate’s stick. Size is a concern as he is both short and thin but he’s also a late ’98, so he has time. Yamamoto, from Spokane, Wash., led his team in points here with a 1-4-5 line in 4 games. Was an invite to the NTDP camp in late March. Drafted by the Fargo Force of the USHL and his hometown Spokane Chiefs (WHL), for whom his older brother, Keanu, plays.
23. Dominick Mersch (LW, #25 Chicago Mission, 6-0/180, late ’98) – Mersch, the younger brother of Wisconsin senior forward Michael Mersch, has game-changing speed and hustle, is a hound on the puck, and does all the little things well -- finishing checks, blocking shots and picking up guys in the defensive zone. He has good size and strength, especially considering he is days away from being a ’99, and he uses it well to win battles and protect the puck. He will need to improve his hands and release on his shot as it takes him awhile to get it off. That said, Mersch is an all-around talent who got increasingly comfortable as the week went on, finishing as his team’s leading scorer with a 4-1-5 line in 4 games. Was invited to the NTDP U17 camp. Committed to University of Wisconsin recently.
24. Kevin Conley (LW, #18 Team Wisconsin, 6-1/190, ’97) -- The Wausau, Wisc. native is a big, strong, two-way winger who competes in all three zones, and plays a physical, rugged style which opens space for his linemates. He is tough in the corners and along the boards, rarely losing the physical battles. If he finds an opening, he has a powerful yet accurate wrister and snap shot. On the powerplay he mans the point. He is not a finished product as his speed is missing, acceleration is slow, and he can be stationary at times. However, his size, strength, and shooting ability separate him from other players here. Committed to the University of Denver in August. Was selected by Youngstown in the second round of the USHL Futures Draft last year.
25. Donovan Ott (RW, #12 Selects Academy, 6-1/200, ’97) – Ott, a big, strong power forward committed to Cornell as a 15-year-old but his game has come a long way since then. Ott, from Lebanon, PA, has great size, often towering over his competition, a powerful snap shot and long, powerful strides. We saw him at the Selects Academy Tournament earlier in the season and were impressed with how far his game has come especially in his edgework, north-south speed and shooting ability. In 24 USPHL U16 games this season he registered only 8 goals and 11 assists putting him 13th in scoring on his team, but the numbers do not give his game justice. He is raw and still a project at this point, but his frame, strength on the walls and in front of the net, and improved skating make him a high-ceiling prospect if he can become a more complete player. He is still slow accelerating, his hands are OK but not special, and he will need to be more physical, especially in his own end to reach his elite potential. He was selected #12 overall (by Sioux Falls) in the USHL Futures Draft last year. Also was an 11th rounder in the OHL draft, selected by the Ottawa 67’s.
26. David Keefer (RW, #14 HoneyBaked, 5-9/170, late ’97) -- Keefer didn’t produce much by way of points here – just one assist in four games played -- but there was a lot to like about this Michigan State recruit’s game. He has a great shot, hard and well-placed, but even more impressive is his awareness. He is always in a good position to shoot, he has good hands and he is quick and balanced in the corners, hard to take the puck away from. The Howell, Mich. native will not head to East Lansing until 2017, but the Spartans have a great get here as he can finish, makes firm and smart passes and has good acceleration. Some scouts thought he was overrated and questioned his size and speed but his first few steps are there and he’s strong enough to make up for his height. Keefer was one of Honeybaked’s leading scorers in HPHL games – 10-11-21 in 18 games.
27. Kole Sherwood (RW, #88 Ohio Blue Jackets, 5-8/154,’97) -- The younger brother of Miami commit and Youngstown Phantoms forward Kiefer Sherwood led the Ohio Blue Jackets in points this year with a 24-18-42 line in 34 contests. A quick, shifty playmaker with a finisher’s touch is an agile winger who can work his way in and out of a crowd maintaining puck possession. Sherwood lit the lamp from just inside the blue line with a terrific top-corner wrister over the goalie’s glove. The best part of his game is his competitiveness. He’ll go into the corner with reckless abandon and while he can get bounced around due to his small frame he finds a way to escape with the puck. His vision is OK but will need to improve at the next level where he will not be able to crash the net and have the same level of success as he does here. He was productive on the week with a 3-2-5 line in 3 games. The New Albany, Ohio native was drafted by Youngstown in last year’s USHL Futures Draft.
28. Alex Limoges (LC, #26 Selects Academy, 6-0/176, late ’97) -- Limoges, who’s from Winchester, Virginia, was the leading scorer for Selects Academy this year, finishing the USPHL U16 season with a 25-26-51 line in 27 games, 12 points better than the next highest scorer. Limoges has a big frame with room to grow, prolific shooting ability, and hockey sense. He is in the right place at the right time, an opportunistic scorer who makes plays in all three zones. He will need to improve his stride, edges, and first three steps to be a high-end D-I prospect, but his ability to read the play and exploit the defense gives him an edge. Will not stay uncommitted for long.
29. Van Barr (LW/LC, #18 Omaha AAA, 5-10/165, ’97) – Barr, from Kansas City, Missouri, had a good showing here with 4 goals in 5 games. The Western Michigan commit is coming off a great season with Omaha, amassing a 54-61-115 line in 73 games, and earning a First Team All-NAPHL selection. A fluid skater, Barr has smooth hands, reads the play well, and has an accurate shot with a quick release point. He is not overly flashy and does not have the 1-on-1 skills his high point totals suggest, but his hockey IQ, vision, and finishing touch allow him to create a lot of opportunities. He is at his best on the powerplay where he can shoot from anywhere and also make cross-ice passes without forcing it through traffic. Will need to add strength, and play his position – he tends to run around in the defensive zone, chasing the puck.
30. Joshua Dunne (LW, #17 St. Louis Blues, 6-1/150, late ’98) -- Late ’98 has a great frame but is very thin. His mobility is excellent, and he possesses fairly soft hands. He is raw and has holes in his game -- quickness and lateral movement, for example. However, once he grows into his body he could emerge as one of the best of this entire group. He was selected to tryout with the US NTDP U17 team. Dunner was not at his best here -- he found the back of the net only once in five games -- but college coaches liked what they saw. We don’t believe he will be uncommitted for long. Had a productive year, finishing with a 12-13-25 line in 37 games with the Blues, giving him a tie for second in scoring. He was also the Blues youngest player.
31. Josh Wilkins (LW, #12 Thunder Hockey, 5-11/170,’97) -- Atlanta, Georgia native came off an impressive season, leading the Thunder with a 31-42-73 line in 50 games and a +48 rating. Here, he kept up his scoring touch and, despite his team’s 0-3 record, he had a 5-1-6 line in those games. His shot is the first thing that stands out: he scored on a beautiful top-corner snipe just under the crossbar in the game we watched against HoneyBaked. Wilkins is a fluid skater with good speed and a quick first three steps which, coupled with soft hands, put him in a lot of situations to score. His shot has eyes and he finds the back of the net without having high velocity. He is a pure scorer who shoots with his head up, and can release it from a standstill or in stride. He will need to get stronger especially in his lower body and become a more complete player as he tends to cheat in the defensive end. We feel he has great upside.
32. Zachary Walker (RW/RC, #92 Colorado Thunderbirds, 6-1/175, ’98) -- The Thunderbirds’ second-leading scorer with a 13-17-30 line in 37 games was second at this tournament as well, with a 1-2-3 line in 6 games. We know Walker is a highly-touted prospect who made the US NTPD U17 team, but he did not look the part here. Walker has great size and range for his age, elusive hands, and mature hockey sense. However, he was irrelevant for long stretches here and did more floating then participating. Took three penalties in the championship game against Wisconsin. He needs to bring a consistent effort, use his body to gain position, and improve his shot. His ability, and his combination of size and skill makes him a high-ceiling prospect. Was a third round draft pick of the Vancouver Giants in the WHL Bantam Draft.
33. Hugh McGing (LC, #11 Chicago Mission, 5-8/147, ’98) – McGing, a Chicago, Ill. native who committed to Western Michigan after a strong performance at the Select 15 Festival this past summer, was one of the younger players on the Mission. He plays an aggressive style, with speed and tenacity. He goes all-out on the forecheck and certainly disrupts the opposition’s breakout. He can kill penalties, contribute on the power play, and has nice touch around the net. He looked to be more of a set-up man than a finisher but as he gets stronger and more confident he could develop into a goal scorer as well. He was 2-2-4 in 4 games on the weekend and excelled in the transition game, gaining the zone with speed and making plays to the net. He’s schedule to arrive at Western Michigan in the fall of ‘16.
34. Frankie Melton (LW, #16 St. Louis Blues, 5-6/161, ’97) --- Melton had a coming out party here with a 3-4-7 line in 5 games. The Arnold, MO native, who was constantly creating scoring opportunities, is fast and smooth and contributes in man-down, man-up and even-strength situations. On the powerplay he plays the wing on the umbrella, and showed a willingness to shoot as well as great vision and passing ability. Melton has high skill, but also competes and wins races to the puck. He is able to process decisions at a fast pace, not hesitating to make the tough play. He lacks size, although he is stalky, and he does not get involved in the physical play, making him an easy target in the open ice for bigger defenseman. Currently uncommitted, but after his week here he should gain more respect among the scouting community. In the regular season, Melton had a 10-7-17 line in 37 league games.
35. Bailey Conger (RW, #8 Valley Jr. Warriors, 6-0/170, ’97) -- Conger, the second-leading scorer at Cushing Academy this year, was held without a point in three games. The Boise, Idaho native, a St. Lawrence commit, was not entirely blanked as he did score on the shootout against Team Wisconsin off a beautiful forehand-to-backhand deke. Conger is not a strong skater as he has an upright stance and doesn’t get that power from bending his knees and fully extending his stride. However, he has great hands, special awareness and passing ability as he dished out 27 assists in 31 games at Cushing (along with 14 goals). He is one of the smarter players we have seen at his age, with the ability to read the play, see the whole ice, and judge defenders’ speed and gap control well. He did not have a great showing here but in his defense, his team only scored a total of 5 goals in 3 games and never looked in-sync in the offensive end.
36. Matthew Pulver (LW/LC, #16 Omaha AAA, 6-1/170, ’97) –- A Chippewa Falls, Wisc. native, Pulver, who has committed to Air Force for the fall of ’16, was one of the most consistent players here. We saw him in 3 games and he made an impression in all of them. He is not a burner, but has tactical speed, smooth hands and makes a lot of nice passes, particularly on the powerplay. He is the type of player who will put his teammates in positions to be successful, a purposeful player who knows what he is going to do with the puck before it gets to him. On the season he had an 11-18-29 line in 20 games. He was unable to find the back of the net here but chipped in 2 assists and was a scoring threat in all 3 games we observed.
37. Zachary Solow (RW, #77 St. Louis Blues, 5-9/180, late ’98) -- The Naples, Missouri native was impressive here, with a 3-5-8 line in 5 games to lead his star-studded team in points. Solow has great hands and control of the puck, and has that ability to get out of jams and/or create a scoring chance out of nothing. He doesn’t have great speed but he has a strong, balanced, fluid stride making him hard to take off the puck. A D-I prospect, Solow will need to improve his speed and agility in open ice but he has plenty of offensive skills to make up for it. He is at his best on the power play where he has enough time and space to make the plays he wants.
38. Alex Overhardt (LC, #17 Colorado Thunderbirds, 6-0/175, ’97) -- The Cherry Hills, Col. native was the second leading scorer on the team this past season with a 15-15-30 line in 37 games. He has good size, a long, fluid stride, quick hands, and a hard snap shot. The son of NHL player agent Kurt Overhardt is a gifted center who plays two-way hockey and is capable in both man-up and man-down situations. He was 2-1-3 in 6 games here. The knock on Overhardt is that his game lacks a true identity, that he is not a power forward type nor is he a skill guy. Rather, he is a hybrid who can do a little bit of everything well. Overhardt was drafted by the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) in 2013 and by the Portland Winterhawks in the 11th round of the WHL Bantam Draft in 2012.
39. Owen Green (LC, #9 Buffalo Regals, 6-3/181,’97) -- The Williamsville, NY native has a huge frame at 6’3” and is far from filling it out. He lacks quickness but managed to win a lot of faceoffs. Once he gets his feet moving he has good end-to-end speed. Green is still figuring out what kind of player he is. On some shifts he forechecks hard and tries to use his frame and long reach to cause turnovers, and other times he sits back and tries to use uses that same reach to break up passes. He can be stationary at times which is troubling because he lacks acceleration skills but when he is moving he’s hard to handle, especially down low and along the wall. We saw glimpses here, but Green is still very raw and his potential is for down the road. Green was the Regals’ second-leading scorer this past season with a 10-21-31 line in 36 games. He drafted by the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) and the North Bay Battalion (OHL).
40. Gage Mackie (LW, #17 Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 6-3/185, ’97) -- The tall, gangly prospect out of Anchorage, Alaska was one of the more intriguing prospects here. He has great height, but is thin. He is light on his skates but once he gets going he has a long stride with strong push-offs that generate speed. His hands are decent and he is strong on his stick, making him a great netfront presence in the offensive zone. Mackie scored a great goal off a feed out of the corner. He just bore down on the puck while getting checked and slashed from every angle and fired it five-hole. In 66 games at Shattuck, he recorded a 20-28-48 line. A Fargo Force draft in the USHL.
41. Vladislav Dzhioshvili (LW, #34 WBS Jr. Knights U16, 5-10/160, ’98) -- From Moskow, Dzhioshvili played for the Moscow Dynamo before coming to the US. He has an older brother Maxim, who plays for Little Caesar’s U18. An ultra-talented forward who can score at will, Dzhioshvili has elite stickhandling ability and lower-body strength that make him hard to stop. If the D play on their toes and go after him then he will bob and weave and stickhandle right around them. If they sit back he can use his strength and size to overpower them and drive the net. He looks like he patterns himself after Alexander Ovechkin in the finesse/power combination. He’s not known for his passing ability because he’s looked upon to score goals, but we feel he skates with his head up, finds lanes and makes accurate passes. With that being said, there are glaring holes in his game and it starts with his stride, which lacks coordination, grace and fluidity. He’s one- dimensional and does not compete in the defensive zone, his acceleration and agility are a work in progress, and he’s often out of position. So he’s got some deficiencies but overall he’s a real difference maker and could help any team in need of offensive production. His stats illustrate his offensive dominance; in 18 games he had a 28-28-56 line. That’s north of 2.5 points per game.
42. Evan Johnson (RW, #19 LA Jr. Kings, 5-10/165, ’97) -- Johnson, from Huntington Beach, California, was a scoring machine in his final game here, scoring all three goals in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Johnson has a great shot, gets it off in stride with his head up, and generates a lot of power with very little wind up. He is not the most dynamic with the puck and does not excel in 1-on-1 situations but he plays with some jam and intensity, always hustling and extending the play. He has an active stick, pressures the puck with speed, and is relentless along the wall off the forecheck. Tied for first on the Kings in points with a 4-1-5 line in 4 games and was second on the regular season with a 19-17-36 line in 34 games.
43. Ben Lown (RC, #10 Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 5-6/150, ’98) -- The Newport Beach, Calif. native was Shattuck’s leading scorer this past season with a 26-48-74 line in 66 contests. He is small, but fast and agile. At times it looks like he is not even dug into the ice but rather floating above it, able to change direction and accelerate the other direction in a split second. He was not as productive here as he was during the regular season but he is tough to handle off the transition with the speed, lateral mobility and passing ability. He is coming off a 90-point season at the U14 level last year so this year’s point totals are no fluke.
44. Zachary Goberis (LW, #9 Colorado Thunderbirds, 6-0/180, ’97) – Goberis, a big strong power forward from Arvada, Colorado who signed with Lethbridge (WHL), has received his fair share of attention. He’s a long way from a finished product but he has the frame and the room to grow into it. He has a strong stick and makes crisp accurate passes up-ice. He has a wide stance that gives him balance and the ability to fight through checks, but also limits his north-south speed. Goberis is a one-lane player who rarely moves east-west but he has a hard shot and is strong on the puck. Will need to become more agile to be productive at the major junior level but he is a good project for Lethbridge.
45. David Brumm (LC/LW, #12 Omaha AAA, 6-2/165,’97) -- Brumm had a 0-4-4 line in 5 games here but was not always noticeable. It took us until halfway through the second game before we got a feel for how he plays. He is still thin and in the awkward growth stage but with that 6’2” frame, quick hands in front, and his ability to finish plays, Brumm, who’s from Maple Grove, Minnesota, is a good long term project who will pay great dividends once it all comes together. In 20 games played during the regular season, he posted an 18-23-41 line. Cedar Rapids has his USHL rights.
46. Alec Broetzman (LW, #21 Team Wisconsin, 6-2/190, ’97) -- Broetzman played on a line with Ty Pelton-Byce and Sam McCormick for most of the week and finished the tournament second on the team in scoring with a 2-4-6 line in 6 games. He has great size and strength -- and also soft hands. He pursues the puck, plays physically, and is at his best in front of the opposing team’s net. Broetzman, however, is not an efficient skater and will need to improve that part of his game in order to reach his full potential. But there is a lot to like in his game. He produced 13-14-27 line in 36 regular season games with Team Wisconsin.
47. Christopher Grando (LW, #3 Long Island Gulls, 5-8/140, ’98) -- Grando, out of Islip, Long Island, was one of our favorite players to watch as he plays a complete game, competes as hard as anyone, and always has his feet moving. He has a small frame so he may lack the upside of some of his teammates, but he can has speed and quickness that translates well at higher levels. His first step is explosive and he can turn on a dime. We loved his hustle and the way he does all the little things well. He backchecks and forechecks with a purpose, competes at both ends of the rink, blocks shots, finishes checks and will sacrifice his body to make a play. The speedster has already visited Hockey East schools and figures to be a scholarship player. In 26 AYHL games he sported a 25-27-52 line, second best on the team. Her at Nationals, he was unable to find the back of the net but posted 5 assists in 3 games.
48. Jake Hamacher (RW, WBS Knights U16, 5-9/155, ’97) -- One of the faster players in the tournament, Hamacher can really skate. He has the quickness, explosiveness, balance, shiftiness and edges to play at any level but the rest of his game has not caught up yet. He has a solid skill set with quick hands and an accurate shot but has to improve his strength and hockey sense. At times, he is all over the place and not always in a productive fashion. Limited upside due to his size but his speed is a rarity and could be valued by D-I programs. He was second on the team in scoring here with a 2-1-3 line in 3 games.
Other Notable Forwards:
49. Evan Wisockey (RC, #12 Long Island Gulls, 5-10/160, ’98) Paramus, NJ OHL Draft pick: Windsor Spitfires
50. Matthew Long (LC, #16 CYA, 5-11/180, ’97) Orlando Park, Ill. 25GP-11-13-24
51. Josh Bell (RC, #11 St. Louis Blues, 5-10/160, ’97) Fenton, MO 30GP-17-13-30 ( tied for the lead in points)
52. Matthew Creamer (RW, #24 Selects Academy, 6-2/185, ’97) Warwick, RI 29GP-23-14-37
53. Walker Duehr (RW, #12 CYA, 6-1/165, late ’97) Sioux Falls, SD 22GP-7-10-17 high potential
54. Collin Appleton (F, #24 Team Wisconsin, 6-1/175,’97) Green Bay, Wisc. 38GP-4-8-12
55. Jacob Paganelli (RW, #9 Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 5-11/170, ’97) Verona, NJ 68GP-26-40-66
56. Colin Adams (LW, #43 HoneyBaked, 5-7/168, ’98) Brighton, Mich. 22GP-10-7-17
57. Eugene Fadyeyev (LC, #12 WBS Knights U16, 5-11/170, late ’97)
58. Cole Paskus (LC, #16 Team Wisconsin U16, 6-0/175, ’97) 38GP-13-7-20
59. Niko Karamanis (RW/RC, #8 Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 5-8/165, ’98) Courtenay, BC 67GP-28-33-61
60. Marcus Dickerson (RW, #29 Selects Academy, 5-10/185, ’98) West Deptford, NJ 28GP-12-12-24
61. Andrew Richter (RW, #10 CYA, 5-10/175, ’97) Darien, Ill. 25GP-6-14-20
62. Brent Hill (RW, #18 Valley Jr. Warriors, 5-10/180, late ’97) Lunenburg, MA 32GP-4-7-11 @ Cushing
63. Nikita Anistratenko (RW, #10 WBS Knights U16, 5-8/155, ’97)
QMJHL Draft on Tap
Cam Askew, a former St. Sebastian’s and Cushing center – and Northeastern and BU commit – was traded Tuesday in a three-way QMJHL trade. Askew, a ’97 from South Boston who put up a 5-9-14 line in 64 games as a rookie with Drummondville, will ply his trade with Moncton next season, his fifth team in five years.
Askew was the highest-drafted American in last year’s Q draft, at #11 overall. This year’s draft takes place tomorrow, Sat. May 30th, at Sherbrooke, starting at 10:00 am EST. Who will be the top American taken?
If he’s interested, the top U.S. kid selected would almost certainly be ’98 defenseman Chad Krys, who’s already committed to the NTDP for the next two years. The son of former BU defenseman Mark Krys, and a Ridgefield, Conn. native, Krys played the past season for the NJ Rockets 19U team. Don’t put it past Moncton or Quebec to take a shot.
The Q’s Central Scouting has ranked Salisbury winger Mike O’Leary, a Halifax, NS native who had a 2-3-5 line in 29 games as a sophomore this past season, as the #6 overall prospect in the draft.
Last spring, 41 Americans were selected in the Q draft, up four from 2012, when 37 were taken. In the previous five-year period, 2007-11, the most Yanks selected in a single draft was 10.
Of the 41 Americans selected last season, the net yield was six players: Askew, Chase Harwell, Connor Moynihan, Willy Smith, Tucker White, and Bobby Dray.
Here is a link to the final QMJHL Central Scouting list. The Americans aren’t ranked, but if you scroll down you will find them listed alphabetically. It’s a rather long list – everyone and his cousin is on it.
QMJHL 2014 Draft -- Final Rankings (PDF file)
Filling the Hotels
A total of 120 teams will be playing at two Boston-area showcases this weekend.
-- At the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. the USPHL Spring Showcase will feature 44 teams spread across two divisions.
Here is the schedule.
And here are the rosters. (Note: It's a zip file.)
-- At the same time, in Walpole and Foxboro, the Pre-Draft Showcase will be taking place, with 76 teams from all over creation.
Here’s a link to the tournament’s web site. Schedules and rosters can be found there.
Needless to say, the range of talent to be found at these events is as broad as the Milky Way. And the combined number of players in the two tournaments is somewhere north of 2,000. Still, you never know what you’ll find.
In addition, the 7th Annual Warren Strelow Goalie Camp, named after the goaltender coach of the 1980 Olympic Team (among many other hockey endeavors) opens Thursday in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
This camp, run by USA Hockey, headed up by Kevin Reiter, features goalie guys such as Mike Ayers, Joe Exter, Bob Janosz, David Lassonde, Matt Millar, and Nick Petraglia.
Twelve of the attendees were also at the camp last year, and they are marked with an asterisk below.
Ryan Bednard, Victory Honda Midget Major
Stephen Dhillon, Buffalo Regals Midget Minor
*Ryan Edquist, Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Logan Halliday, Janesville Jets (NAHL)
Brandon Halverson, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Tyler Johnson, TPH Thunder Midget Minor
*Matt Jurusik, Cleveland Barons Midget Major
Jack Kielly, Victory Honda Midget Major
Michael Lackey, U.S. Under-17 Team
*Ryan Larkin, HoneyBaked Midget Major
*Michael Latorella, HoneyBaked Midget Major
*Edwin Minney, U.S. Under-18 Team
*Liam Moore, Governor’s Academy
Garrett Nieto, LA Kings Midget Minor
*Conor O’Brien, Northfield-Mt. Hermon
Jake Oettinger, Lakeville North (Minn.) HS
Kris Oldham, Kenai River Brown Bears
*Luke Opilka, U.S. Under-17 Team
Dayton Rasmussen, Holy Family (Minn.) HS
*Evan Sarthou, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Eric Schierhorn, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
*Nic Sorgio, Salisbury School
*Blake Weyrick, U.S. Under-18 Team
Joseph Woll, St. Louis Blues Midget Minor
U16s at Nationals: Defensemen & Goalies
1. Luke Martin (RD, #2 St. Louis Blues, 6-1/198, late ’98) -- The University of Michigan commit – and one of the first players to commit to next season’s NTDP U17 team -- has tremendous size and strength, makes the simple pass, and makes good decisions with the puck. He’s versatile, too -- he can rush the puck, make any pass, block shots, and play physically in the dirty areas. On the defensive side, he is a monster in front, moving bodies and picking up sticks. Unlike a lot of players who just push guys in front the goalie to get them off balance and away from the crease, Martin lowers his body and drives the opposition several strides away from the goalie. What is also most impressive is his body positioning on the puck carrier, as he doesn’t over-pursue or get out of position. He is effective on both the PK, where he uses his strong stick to clear the puck, blocks shots, and gets his stick into passing lanes. He QBs the powerplay and does a nice job getting the puck through traffic and on net. He also distributes the puck around the umbrella and isn’t afraid to zip hard passes backdoor. He will need to become more agile on his feet and improve his acceleration but he is a rare talent for this age, especially being a late ’98. Has real NHL upside.
2. Adam Fox (RD, #18 Long Island Gulls, 5-10/155, ’98) -- There is not a more dynamic offensive defenseman in this age group than Adam Fox, who has silky smooth hands, poise with the puck, and – the key – great wheels. The Jericho, NY native, a Harvard commit for the fall of ’16, thrives in the transition game where he is able to read the play, anticipate and intercept passes, and take the puck the other way with speed and poise. Fox, a dynamic playmaker who can fly in open ice and has the vision to see plays evolving, can create offense out of nothing. The knock on Fox is that he is not as hard-working in his own end as he is in the offensive zone. Some observers would like to see him block shots, play the body, and get into the dirty areas more. It’s a fair observation, but those are all teachable things, and if he wishes to be a complete player he will work on those areas. Fox led all defenseman at Nationals in scoring with a 4-4-8 line in 3 games; in the regular season he a 14-37-51 line in 22 games. Fox was drafted by Des Moines (USHL) and Kitchener (OHL). He will play for the NTDP before heading to Harvard.
3. Anthony Stillwell (LD, #26 Team Wisconsin, 5-7/145, ’97) -- Stillwell was one of the greatest stories on the weekend as the local out Green Bay scored the game-winning goal in the fourth overtime to win the national championship for Team Wisconsin. Last year’s second round pick in the USHL Futures Draft by Sioux City, Stillwell is an undersized, highly-skilled, offensive defenseman who has quick feet and even quicker reflexes. While he has the ability to push the pace and play a speed game, he is excellent breaking the puck out of his end by skating away from pressure and making crisp passes up-ice. His skating ability is high end -- he has an explosive first step forward, backward, and side to side, plus he has speed. It is hard to project how he will do at the next level with his size and slight build, but he may have meant more to his team than any other player here.
4. Ty Farmer (RD, #56 St. Louis Blues, 5-10/170, ’98) -- A Michigan State commit out of O’Fallon, Missouri, Farmer has poise, soft hands, and is skilled with the puck, especially on the powerplay. The offensive defender is a composed skater who doesn’t give the puck up without knowing where it’s going. Indeed, he is one of the best puck-moving defenders, if not the best, of his age bracket. Farmer has the hands and vision to deliver passes to any spot on the ice. He can make direct and indirect passes, saucer passes, put the puck in space, or put some zip on long stretch passes. He’s a smooth, fluid skater who is quick, moves well vertically and always has his head up carrying the puck. We would like to see him play with more of an edge away from the puck but he is a future Spartan PP defenseman. He had a 1-2-3 line in 5 games here. NTDP camp invite. Signed a tender with Youngstown (USHL).
5. Michael Joyaux (RD, #6 Chicago Mission, 5-9/154, ’97) -- Bloomingdale, Ill. native is an undersized, confident skater who keeps his eyes down ice. He’ll survey the defense, finds the holes -- and exploit them, usually with a pass, though he’s capable of rushing the puck and pushing the pace. Joyaux’s vision and skating ability are his two most noticeable traits but he is also effective along the wall, utilizing quick stick checks and an ability to skate away from pressure. The Miami recruit and Tri-City Storm (USHL) draft pick tied for first on his team in points over the weekend with 5 assists in 4 games. Joyaux will need to get stronger, especially in his lower body, and avoid running around pursuing the puck with little sense as to where he is.6. Jacob Ryczek (RD, #4 Selects Academy, 5-11/170, ’98) -- Ryczek is an elite-skating, offensive defenseman with smooth hands and a quick and powerful snap shot. He had some nice hits in open ice, he made great passes coming out of his own end, he rushed the puck with speed, and was dependable in his own end using his athleticism and quickness to keep the play wide. The recent UNH commit out of Ludlow, Mass. can try to do too much at times and overhandle or force a pass, but the upside is tremendous and he has the making of an elite powerplay defender when he arrives at UNH. Ryczek, who posted a 7-10-17 line in 26 games with Selects this season, had a 1-1-2 line in 3 games here.
7. Simon Butala (LD, #48 Long Island Gulls, 6-2/190, ’98) -- The future UMaine Black Bear out of Downingtown, PA – that’s about 30 miles west of Philadelphia -- is a tall, strong, mobile defender who plays with a chip on his shoulder. A meat-and-potatoes style player of the NHL mold, Butala makes smart, simple plays with the puck and possesses a strong, hard slap shot from the point. He plays the body well, uses his strong stick to steal the puck and knock the opposition off balance, and is rugged in the corners and along the boards. He has some NHL upside but will need to improve his skating, particularly in acceleration and lateral movement.
8. Ryan Bederka (LD, #3 HoneyBaked, 5-9/165,’98) -- The Brighton, Michigan native is not tall but he is strong as an ox. He also has a powerful stride, a durable stick, and makes a good outlet pass even though his hands are a bit stiff. The Michigan State commit is an offensive defenseman who plays with an edge away from the puck but we didn’t see much of him offensively. He was held off the score sheet in four straight games. Bederka is strong in his own end and is able to clear out guys in front of the net and gain body position in the corner in order to break the puck out. What we like best about his game is that he has an identity and he knows what it is. He plays within himself, makes the simple play, and shields the puck from forecheckers. A ’98, he was invited to the NTDP U17 camp but it is unknown as what he will do next season. Scouts and recruiters who have watched him all season say his performance here was not a good showing, but he did enough for us to warrant his ranking.
9. Andrew Peeke (RD, #20 Selects Academy, 6-2/178, ’98) -- Peeke has a great frame, makes firm tape-to-tape passes out of his end and has a hard shot from the blue line but overall he is still a work in progress. He has height but lacks strength, he makes a nice pass but his hands are a little stiff. He can join the attack, but is not a creator or playmaker. He is dependable in his end but not a shutdown defender. With that being said, not many players have that array of ability, especially at his size. Once he fills into his body he does have significant upside. Parkland, Florida native needs to refine his skills and form a style of play that works for him, but to us he looks like he’ll be a very good player if he puts in the time and effort. Produced a 1-1-2 line in 3 games here and finished the season with a 1-9-10 line in 27 games. Was drafted in the late rounds of the OHL draft by the Ottawa 67’s but word has it that he wants to play college hockey. He is presently uncommitted.10. Mitch Eliot (RD, #44 HoneyBaked, 5-11/165, ’98) -- Eliot has a cannon of a slap shot and elite poise and puck possession skills. He has decent size, and is patient carrying the puck. Eliot is not the type of player who will panic in his end and chip the puck high off the glass. He values the puck and looks to either skate it out or make a pass. We did not see him as physically engaged as we would have liked, but he does a great job keeping the puck in the zone on the offensive blue line and he is a pest on the net. He is versatile -- he’s one of the teams top penalty killers with his positioning, hockey sense and ability to clear the puck but he’s also one of their most lethal weapons on the powerplay with his shooting ability. Eliot was held off the score sheet here but he still made his presence known. A late-round pick of the Sarnia Sting in the OHL draft last year, he has signed a tender with Muskegon (USHL) and seems intent on playing college hockey where he is committed, at Michigan State.
11. Nick McKeeby (RD, #84 HoneyBaked, 5-10/173, ’98) – McKeeby, a Western Michigan commit, is a solid all-around prospect with a smooth stride. He makes a firm, accurate first pass, has decent size, and showed elite mobility in all directions. While he does a great job monitoring the offensive blue line, he was not the offensive threat he usually is. He is smooth in transition from forward to backward and is tough to beat outside. He has a keen sense of his strengths and plays to them, giving forwards very little space through the neutral zone and inside his blue line because his skating is good enough to stay with the man. If the opposing forward is a big, strong power forward driving the net on him, he is not going to try and play the physical game but will likely use his skating and hands to strip the puck and head the other way. If the player is fast and quick he will give him a little more of a gap and contain his speed to the outside and block passing lanes.
12. Konstantin Chernyuk (LD, WBS Knights U16, 5-10/160, ’98) -- From St. Petersburg, Russia, Chernyuk has great size, probably 6’3” or more and has not come close to filling into his frame. Due to his lanky body type, he has an awkward stride but his speed is fine and he uses his hockey IQ and body positioning to make sure nobody beats him to the net. He has poise, good control of the puck, and makes an accurate, simple pass. We liked his decision-making and he’s deceptively quick for his size. Once he grows into his massive frame he could be a force. While raw, Chernyuk’s potential is obvious. He blocks shots, has a strong stick, plays the body in front of his net, and is capable of skating the puck out of his end if needed -- though that is not his game. He has a tendency to try and do too much in the defensive end and can be caught running around trying to make a play. Chernyuk committed to Maine in January but it will be interesting to see where he plays the next few years as junior teams across the country have their eye on him. In 20 games this season he had a 3-11-14 line and was held to 1 assist in 3 games here.
13. Aaron McPheters (LD, #11 Selects Academy, 5-8/145, ’97) -- Although he was kept off the scoresheet, McPheters, a small but quick offensive defenseman out of Anchorage, Alaska, showed off his high-level skating and passing ability here. The Alaska-Anchorage commit was as prolific a passer as anyone here -- he reads the play, puts a great combination of touch and zip on the puck, and has the skill to place it anywhere on the ice. He quarterbacks their second power play, is poised, confident and makes sound decisions with the puck. He processes the game at a fast pace and has the speed and quickness to capture loose pucks, accelerate the other direction and even make a breakout pass before the forechecker is within range of him. A great pick-up for the hometown university. In USPHL U16 play, McPheters recorded 2 goals and 23 assists in 27 games.
14. Joseph Matthews (LD, #44 St. Louis Blues, 5-9/170, late ’97) -- Matthews lacks size but was one of the better skating defenders here. The Ballwin, Missouri native provides a great complement to teammate Luke Martin as he is quicker and more offensive-minded but when needed he can hang back and get his nose dirty. Matthews made several nice rushes with his head down-ice looking to make a play. He excels on the powerplay. He has agile hands. He is athletic in the defensive zone but can get caught watching the play and forwards were able to sneak in behind him. He tends to be overshadowed by Martin, but he is certainly a D-I prospect in his own right. A late-round pick for Cedar Rapids (USHL), Matthews had a strong showing here with a 1-2-3 line in 5 games.
15. Drew Anastos (LD, #4 HoneyBaked, 6-1/165, ’97) -- The son of Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos is rumored to be looking at playing Ivy League and that is certainly within his grasp. Anastos is a quiet player who does not tend to make the big plays but the more you watch him, the more you appreciate him. He is a bit slight and does not possess the strength or coordination to be effective in the physical game, at least now. But he uses his reach very well both to poke-check the puck and protect it once he maintains possession. Anastos blocks shots, stays in position, stays with his man, and seems to have a great sense of his surroundings. A smart player who is still growing into his body, Anastos made some nice outlet passes. He projects well for the next level. Was 0-2-2 line in 4 games here
16. Brennan Menell (RD, #65 CYA, 5-10/180, ’97) -- A smooth, compact skater who is strong on his edges and has a low center of gravity, Menell is deceptively quick and able to transition forward and backward in a hurry. He has a rocket of a slapshot and a one-timer which we saw him unload for a powerplay goal. Menell was 1-1-2 in 4 games here, but led his team in scoring on the season with a 10-17-27 line in 25 games. He does not have the ultra-soft hands you might expect from an offensive defenseman, but he has great control of the puck and can cradle it quickly through traffic or wide on 1-on-1 situations. On the powerplay he rushed the puck up-ice, gained the blue line, made a Gretzky turn and fired a pass cross-corner to a streaking forward, hitting him in stride. His hockey sense make him not only a threat in the offensive zone but he takes chances in his own end and picks off a lot of passes and breaks up plays. The Woodbury, Minnesota native was one of the more underrated players here. He will need to improve his overall speed and be more dependable in his own end.
17. Callan Foote (RD, #52 Colorado Thunderbirds, 6-1/170, late ’98) -- The son of former NHLer Adam Foote is not the most skilled player on the ice -- his skating has a way to go as he is not balanced on his edges or powerful in his stride. However, Foote, who is growing into his body, possesses great hockey sense and awareness. He does not get beat on 1-on-1 situations, doesn’t get caught watching the puck, and is athletic in crucial areas like the offensive blue line, in front of the net and in the corners. Foote has a strong stick and good reach to win battles along the boards and protect the puck from aggressive forecheckers. He played minutes on the powerplay and penalty kill and was solid in both roles. Factor in that he’s the youngest player on the team that reached the championship game, and that says something about him – he is only two weeks away from being a ’99. A 2nd round pick to the Kelowna Rockets (WHL).
18. Paul DeNaples (RD, #3 WBS Knights U16, late ’98) There is a lot to like when it comes to DeNaples’ game. He is a smooth skater who plays his angles well and knows when to pinch, when to commit, when to check, etc. He is also effective in the offensive zone as he led all defensemen on his team in points with a 6-23-29 line in 26 AYHL league games. He handles the puck well, made strong decisions with the puck and showed off his saucer passing ability on the powerplay several times. While he is not a physically imposing player, he has decent size and strength and is able to contain both speedy skill forwards as well as big, strong power forwards. He has a tendency to jump into the rush, maybe too often, but he always hustles back. He is also one of the better shot blockers on his team -- he finds the puck well and exhibited quick reactions without taking himself out of the play and flopping all over the ice.
19. Liam Schioler (LD, #7 Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 6-2/195, ’98) – Winnipeg, Manitoba native is a tall, strong defenseman with great presence on the ice and the ability to move the puck both on the breakout and through the neutral zone. While we don’t consider him to be an offensive defenseman, he does have impressive vision and allows the play to evolve before making his move. He has a long stride but his overall skating is a work in progress as he lack agility, acceleration, and can be stiff at times and stop moving his feet. Schioler has excellent anticipation and intercepted several passes in both games we saw him in. Has a high ceiling. Is a second round draft pick of the Regina Pats (WHL), where his cousin Dane plays.
20. Adam Parsells (LD, #33 Team Wisconsin, 6-5/190, ’97) -- Parsells might have been the easiest player in the tournament to spot as he stands 6’5”. The Sioux City Musketeers draft pick out of Wausau, Wis. has a giant frame and knows how to use it. He utilizes a long reach to poke pucks away without having to step up on players and get out of position. His stick blocks a lot of passing lanes. When he gets control of the puck he uses his body positioning to shield opponents from it, especially in the corners. His skating is not graceful and he will need to improve his technique, stride, edges, and quickness to fully reach his potential. In the championship game he did have a few turnovers as he does not possess great hands. He showed us a powerful slapshot from the point. On the season he had a 1-6-7 line in 36 games but once he grows into his body, gains confidence and improves his skating he could be something.
21. Elijah Latimer (LD, #6 WBS Jr. Knights U16,’97) -- A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman who plays a smart, controlled game. Clifford Township, PA native showed a lot of poise carrying the puck, patiently allowing the play to develop in front of him. Latimer handles the puck well through traffic, has a strong stick, and plays tough in the dirty areas. He is superb on the breakout, able to make quick decisions with the puck or skate it out of the zone, using his speed and hands to buy time and space. He has a broad skill set that allows him to be effective in all three zones and in even strength or special team’s situations. In AYHL games this season, Latimer had a 5-12-17 line in 26 games along with 52 penalty minutes. While he may be on the small side he has the ability and the grit to play at the D-I level.
22. Harrison Markell (RD, #10 Valley Jr. Warriors, 5-11/185, ’97) -- Markell is an old-school defender. He is not flashy and his skating ability is nothing spectacular but he is tough in the trenches and has a methodical approach to his game. When the puck is in the corner he takes over in front of the net. He is able to keep up in the open ice with his angling ability and strength and does a nice job holding the offensive blue line. Markell is a willing shot blocker and rarely gets knocked off the puck by pressuring forecheckers as he can absorb the hit and make the breakout pass. In 24 games at the Middlesex School, Markell recorded a 6-13-19 line putting him fourth on the team in scoring as a ’97 defenseman. Has a bright future ahead if he continues to polish his skills. He will need to improve his skating, and become more poised.
23. Brandon Schuldhaus (LD, #22 Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 6-2/175, ’98) -- The tall, thin prospect out of Calgary, Alberta was a 5th round draft pick last season in the WHL Bantam Draft to the Seattle Thunderbirds. He is very much a project with a raw skill set and big frame that he hasn’t filled into. However, he does have a lot of the intangibles. He has a keen sense of his surroundings on the ice, and always seems to knows where to be to cover opponents that are the highest threat instead of just the player closest to him. His skating and hands will need time and work, but he is not as far off as might appear at first glance. A physical mentality to go with a 6’2” frame will do that.
Other Notable Defensemen:
24. Anthony Hora (LD, #18 Buffalo Regals, 5-11/175, ’98) -- The younger brother of Kitchener Rangers (OHL) defenseman Frank Hora, Anthony was drafted in the 5th round of the OHL draft by Owen Sound. Hora has great strength and size for his age and plays a physical brand of hockey. He has a good shot which allowed him to be his team’s leading-scoring defenseman with an 8-14-22 line in 35 games. Here he was 1-1-2 in 4 games.
25. Davis Bunz (D, #2 Team Wisconsin, 5-11/150, late ’98) -- The late ’98 out of Middleton, Wisc. is a focused defender who takes care of business in his end. He has a hit-first mentality in front of his goalie. On the offensive blue line, Bunz grinds down opposing forwards from the drop of the puck. He makes great decisions away from the puck on who to pick up and where to position himself. He has good size and mobility and actually had an end-to-end rush in the championship game that showed he does have some offensive ability.
26. JJ Layton (RD, #2 Valley Jr. Warriors, 6-0/180, ’97) -- The sophomore at Austin Prep has good size and makes hard, crisp passes up-ice. He is more of a north-south defender who plays in his lane, is physical both in open ice and in the dirty areas, and is strong on his skates although he could improve his agility. Layton’s hands are OK and he has a quick release on his shot. The Peabody, Mass. native needs some polish but he’s solid in all three zones and was noticeable here. Will be a new junior at Kimball Union in the fall.
Jincy Dunne (LD, #55 St. Louis Blues, 5-6/146, ’97) -- The O’Fallon, Missouri native and sister to teammate Joshua Dunne was the only female here – and we’re talking all three levels – U14, U16, and U18. Dunne is a special talent. A great skater, she can handle the puck and makes a nice firm pass. Her hockey IQ is high-end as she found ways to make plays here despite her size. She is a member of the U18 US National team and was selected to the Team USA Olympic tryout camp as a 16-year-old. She was not selected but it was quite an accomplishment to even be invited at her age. Keep your eye on Dunne. She could well be in the next Olympics -- and perhaps many more to come. She played 21 games with the Blues this year, registering a goal and five assists.
The most-heralded goalie at the tournament was Ryan Edquist, the University of Minnesota commit many considered to be the best ’98 goalie in the country. While Edquist is superbly talented, moves well in the net, and has good size (6’0”), he had a poor showing here, letting up 10 goals on 73 shots in 2 starts for a .863 SV% and 5.33 GAA. Edquist let up some soft goals against the Gulls and seemed to lose focus and get rattled early. His season stats were strong -- and the team in front of him didn’t necessarily do him a lot of favors -- but we can’t rank him among the top 10 performers here on potential alone.
1. Kristofer Carlson (G, #30 Colorado Thunderbirds, 6-1/185, ’97) -- Carlson, in our opinion, was the tournament MVP. He started all six games and at times put his team on his shoulders and carried them to victory. He stopped 175 of 182 shots for a .962 save percentage, 1.25 GAA and 2 shutouts. What is even more impressive was his play in the playoffs when it mattered most. In the quarterfinals, Carlson was the main reason the Thunderbirds pulled off a huge upset of Honeybaked, stopping 36 of 37 shots for a 3-1 win despite being heavily outshot and outplayed. Next, Carlson posted a 29-save shutout of Omaha in the semifinals before losing, 2-1, to Team Wisconsin in the quadruple overtime championship game. At 6’1”, Carlson has good size, takes away a lot of the net with his angling, and is mobile side-to-side and coming in and out of net. He makes the initial save and has great control of his rebounds, keeping everything in front of him Has plenty of confidence and composure. He is currently uncommitted but whoever signs him is getting a real difference-maker as his outstanding tournament performance was not out of the ordinary. Carlson started in 23 games this season for the Thunderbirds and posted a .933 save percentage and 1.70 GAA. Last year, he was drafted in the OHL by the London Knights and in the USHL by the Waterloo Black Hawks.
2. Henry Cutting (G, #1 Team Wisconsin, 5-10/175, ’97) -- Cutting has flown under the radar due to his simple style and average size but after guiding his team to the championship we expect he’ll garner more attention. Cutting started in 5 of his team’s 6 games, recorded a shutout, and kicked out 110 of 116 shots for a .948 save percentage, 1.26 GAA and a perfect 5-0 record. Cutting has a quiet way about his game – solid fundamentally, he comes out and challenges the shooter, does a great job seeing the puck through traffic, and is quick and agile enough to make the side-to-side saves. He stays upright but is at his best down low where he can flash the pads or use his stick to make the saves. He catches the puck well and does a nice job of pouncing on loose pucks. On the season he posted a .915 save percentage with Team Wisconsin and a .937 with Madison West High School.
3. Dylan St. Cyr (G, #7 HoneyBaked, 5-7/152, ’99) -- In this era of tall butterfly goaltenders, 5’7” St. Cyr, a ’99, was one of the best stories in the tournament. Born in Las Vegas, before later moving to Michigan, St. Cyr’s father played minor pro hockey and his mother, Manon Rheaume, was a legendary goaltender, a Canadian Olympian and the first woman to play in an NHL preseason game. St. Cyr is quick, agile, and moves well in the crease. He has a fast glove hand and, despite his age, controlled rebounds as well as any other goalie here. On the week St. Cyr played in 3 of his team’s 4 games, stopping 76 of 79 shots for a .962 save percentage, 1.18 GAA, and a shutout. During the HPHL season he started 11 games and amassed and posted a 1.32 GAA and .930 save percentage. Some may point to his height and upside limitation but he stopped the puck as well as anyone here -- and was 1-2 years younger.
4. Joseph Woll (G, #29 St. Louis Blues, 6-1/181,’98) – A tall, athletic goalie who is committed to the NTDP, Woll plays big, and moves well down low. He is fluid in the net, able to establish positioning and get square to the shooter in an instant. He absorbs the puck and controls rebounds well and does a nice job of either covering the puck or using his stick to poke loose pucks out of the crease. Woll reads the play well – on several 2-on-1’s he was across the crease before the puck even got to the shooter. The Harvard commit (for fall ’16) was drafted by the Oshawa Generals in the OHL. Had a .933 save percentage and 1.71 GAA in 18 league games.
5. Dryden McKay (G, #29 Chicago Young Americans, 5-11/155, late ’97) -- The late ’97 out of Downers Grove, Ill. had a brilliant game against Shattuck-St. Mary’s in which he stopped 28 of 29 shots in a 3-1 decision but followed that up with a difficult 6-1 loss to Omaha in the first round of the playoffs. On the tournament as a whole, McKay faced a lot of shots and many of those were high quality. He finished with a .919 save percentage, 3.24 GAA, and stopped 125 of 136 shots. Before his playoff letdown he was extremely tough. McKay has good size, is quick side-to-side, and has great reflexes. He appears to be flexible and is always in position to make a save. He had couple point-blank shot from the high slot that he came out of the net on nicely. He also made some nice post-to-post pad saves on odd-man rushes. We will keep an eye on him, others should too.
6. Elijah Harris (G, #30 Valley Jr. Warriors, 5-7/150, ’97) -- Harris is small but very quick, instinctual and intuitive. He gets great push off his edges and uses his athleticism to stay square to the puck carrier. He’s savvy, reading the play well to get in position -- and his utilizing his fast reflexes. On the weekend, he saw 103 shots in only 3 games and stopped 96 of them for a .932 save percentage and 2.58 GAA. Consider also that in two of those three games they played Team Wisconsin (champions) and Colorado Thunderbirds (runner-up). Harris stole the game against Team Wisconsin, handing them their only loss as he stopped 37 of 38 shots and then won the shootout, stopping 4 of the 5 shooters. Harris’s lack of height may cause recruiters to put him under the microscope a bit, but here on the national stage he was one of the very best we saw. Out of Haverhill, Mass., Harris plays for Austin Prep and is the son of former UMass-Lowell goaltender Peter Harris.
7. Darion Hanson (G, #1 Omaha AAA, 6-3/155, ’97) -- Out of East Bethel, Minn., Hanson had a great showing here, playing in 3 of his team’s 5 games and stopping 88 of 91 shots for a .967 save percentage and 1.18 GAA with one shutout. His best game came in the semifinals against the Thunderbirds where he stood on his head, only allowing one goal on 29 shots. At 6’5”, Hanson takes away the net forcing a lot of shots wide. He is athletic and fluid in the crease but isn’t afraid to venture out to make the save and play the angle. Hanson, who is on the WHL protected list for the Portland Winterhawks, needs to improve his core strength and reflexes but he has a bright future ahead.
Other Notable Goalies:
8. Trevor Micucci (G, #34 Buffalo Regals, 5-11/145, ’97) -- 19 GP 2.65 GAA, .902 SV%. At Nationals, he stopped 70 of 76 shots for a .921 SV% and 3.53 GAA. Has size and is very quick side-to-side and in and out of the crease.
9. Josh Boyko (G, #1 Selects Academy, 5-9/150, ’97) -- 16 GP 1.14 GAA, .941 SV%. At Nationals Boyko stopped 92 of 102 shots for a .902 SV% and at times was the best player for Selects.
10. Garrett Nieto (G, #32 LA Jr. Kings, 6-3/210, ’98) -- 18 GP 2.38 GAA, .901 SV%. Nieto is calm and composed and – at 6’3” -- takes away a lot of net. Needs to improve his reaction time. Is the younger brother to Kimball Union goaltender Gavin Nieto.