The Phase I USHL Draft took place Monday night and provided a setting for the top 160 prospects born in 2000 from around the United States (and beyond) to be selected by the team that values them the most. This draft is also refereed to as the Futures Draft as these players will be placed on affiliate lists with the intention to join the team in later years. The Phase II draft is geared for 1996-2000 birth year players who are being selected to fill immediate holes on their roster. The first pick in the Phase I draft was Gavin Hain of Grand Rapids HS in Minnesota followed by Braden Costello of Grand Forks HS in North Dakota. Looking back at previous year’s top two picks is select company and these young players should be proud. With that being said, a lot of the players selected in this draft will never play a season in the USHL, some will play but for a different team than the one who drafted them and most importantly to note, many players who were not drafted will go on to have great careers in the league. This is only one step in the team building process for these organizations and is certainly not the end-all-be-all.
Before we get into the rankings we want to say congratulations to all the scouts and teams involved in the draft process. It is a lot of work! Unlike the CHL drafts which are regional, these scouts have to cover a much larger territory with a lower scouting budget. They also need to divide their time among five years worth of age groups (96-00).
We broke down the draft, not only in a player by player analysis but also the draft as a whole. Roughly 55% of the draft class played midget hockey while 14% played Minnesota HS/Bantams. The next highest populations come from New England Prep School and Ontario each at 8%. The rest of the class is split between Europeans, Eastern Canada, Western Canada and US High School prospects (excluding Minnesota). Last year’s draft showed similar results with a strong Midget and Minnesota contingent. The New England Prep players, Massachusetts & Michigan HS players and NCAA bound Canadians are under-represented but that’s not random, its somewhat by design. It all evens out in the end, as the worthy players who get missed in the Phase I draft will eventually get selected in the Phase II Draft down the road.
Our top 5 “misses” of the draft were all eastern prospects, some of which played on lower tier programs that saw little to no USHL scouts throughout the season. #1 Mark Gallant, F/D (Groton School); #2 Mike Kennedy, D (Northfield Mount-Mount Hermon); #3 Joshua Graziano, G (Nichols School); #4 Douglas Connor, G, (PAL Jr. Islanders 18U); #5 Michael Kesselring, D (New Hampton School).
Below is a comprehensive ranking on how each team fared in the USHL Phase I Draft. We would like to note that all the teams did well and in many ways this is splitting hairs, but we took into consideration the talent level of the prospects, the risk/reward for them showing up and the round they were drafted in. Also, keep in mind these are 15/16 year olds who are only at the beginning of their development curve and a lot will change going forward. The scouts do the best they can to project where players will be in the future but is a projection as very few of these players will see much ice in the league next season.
Omaha Lancers #1
Picks: Emilio Pettersen (R1: #3), Jack Randl (R2: #19), Dawson Klein (R3: #35), Jimmy Dowd Jr (R4: #51), Dylan Schneider (R5: #67), Tyler Carpenter (R6: #83), Mike Higgins (R7: #99), Adam Steinwold (R8: #115), Luke Mountain (R9: #131), Reed Stark (R10: #147)
Best Player: Emilio Pettersen (F, 5-10/165, Selects Academy 16U) It is rare to see a third overall pick be tendered but that is how talented Pettersen is. He has some of the best hands in the world for this age group. He plays with imagination, creativity and intuition. He’s got shifty feet and an explosive first step, he can beat defenders with his feet or his stick and was nearly impossible to stop in transition at the midget level. Pettersen should be able to make an immediate impact at the junior level next season, he’ll just need to get stronger and improve his defensive zone play.
Value Pick: Mike Higgins (D, 5-10/190, Boston Advantage 16U) and Adam Steinwold (D, 6-3/185, Victory Honda 16U). These are talented defenseman to get in the seventh and eighth round of the draft. Higgins is a beautiful skater who can pivot and accelerate in any direction seamlessly. He’s got smooth hands, fluid feet and poise and skill with the puck. Steinwold is a different breed, he’s a big, simple defensive defenseman who plays the body and uses his reach to his advantage.
Overall: A Omaha had a great draft from top to bottom, they found high end talent early, value through the middle rounds and safe picks in the final rounds. The top two selections were tender picks in Emilio Pettersen and Jack Randl. Pettersen is likely the most dynamic player in the draft class and Randl is a strong skater who is tough to knock off the puck, has soft, smooth hands and hard shot. He isn’t flashy like Pettersen but he has the ability to score from outside the dots or drive the net and use his strength and decisive hands to jam home rebounds. The third pick was Dawson Klein; a shifty, undersized, puck moving defenseman out of Lakeville South HS in Minnesota. The fourth round pick was much of the same in NTDP invite Jimmy Dowd Jr who is also a small, shifty defenseman with a quick stick. Dowd is smaller and less effective defensively as Klein, but he has higher hockey IQ and both could eventually end up running power plays in this league. Dylan Schneider was their fifth round pick and a player we had limited viewings on. A star in the Minnesota Bantam league for Rochester. The next three picks were value players from established programs in Chicago Mission, Boston Advantage and Victory Honda. The lancers selected Tyler Carpenter in the sixth round and while he’s not the best skater he’s a heads up player who makes good decisions and distributes the puck really well. He’s got some size and is strong on the puck. The next two picks were at defense, Mike Higgins is a smooth skating, offensive defenseman out of Boston Advantage who makes everything look easy and Adam Steinwold is a big, pro-style defensive defender who plays a simple game, snaps passes off his blade and plays a physical brand of hockey. With the second to last pick the Lancers took a big, strong, physical forward in Luke Mountain from the National Championship Shattuck St. Mary’s 16U team. He finishes checks, blocks shots and has USHL ready frame.
Omaha took 6 forwards, 4 defensemen and 0 goalies. They selected their draft picks from Tier 1 Midgets (8) and Minnesota HS/Bantams (2).
Youngstown Phantoms #2
Picks: Curtis Hall (R1: #8), Max Ellis (R2: #24), Jordan Harris (R3: #40), Cameron Hillis (R4: #56), Cade Murnan-Mechor (R5: #72), Andrew Coxhead (R6: #88), Thomas Kramer (R7: #104), Peter Muzyka (R8: #120), John Malone (R9: #136), Nolan Barrett (R10: #152).
Best Player: Curtis Hall (F, 6-0/170, Cleveland Barons 16U) Youngstown walked out of the draft with three NTDP Camp invites in their first three picks. Any of those three (Hall, Ellis, Harris) could end up being the best player in the draft class but we are really high on Curtis Hall. He’s one of the best skaters in the country for this age group. He’s got great straight away speed, an explosive first step, a long, smooth stride and the ability to move laterally and make quick turns to evade pressure. He’s able to carry the puck end to end with his head up looking for passing lanes and can fire the puck when he has an opening. He hasn’t put all of his tools together yet and doesn’t convert his talent into offensive production but he’s got major upside.
Value Pick: Jordan Harris (D, 5-9/150, Kimball Union Academy) While most of our value picks are in the middle to low rounds and there was a good candidate for that on Youngstown in big, shut down defender Cade Murnan-Mechor out of Buffalo Jr. Sabres U16, we felt Harris was the best value. While he’s undersized which likely worried some scouts, he’s proven himself at the New England Prep level against bigger, older, stronger competition. He was also selected to the NTDP Camp where he played very well and if he were a few inches taller would have likely made team. He’s got great hockey sense, surveys the ice and makes the right decision, is quick handed and possesses exceptional footwork. He isn’t strong or physical but he’s got an active stick, gaps up in the neutral zone and uses his body positioning and angling to keep forwards outside. He can push the pace of play, join the rush and run the power play from the point.
Overall: A Youngstown had a great draft, they took on three high end prospects in NTDP Camp Invites Curtis Hall, Max Ellis and Jordan Harris. Curtis Hall has the skating ability to play in the USHL right now and a frame that he can fill into over the off-season. Max Ellis was a brilliant tender move as the little speedster was coming off a great performance at NTDP Camp as well as the U16 Nationals in San Jose, CA. Ellis has tremendous burst and the ability to stop and accelerate the other way in an instant, thus making him lethal in the transition game. He also has great straight away speed and consistently beats defenseman to the outside on zone entries. He’s not only a quick skater but a quick handler and quick thinker, creative and instinctive who can make defenders miss in the open ice and create scoring chances off the rush. Jordan Harris, another NTDP Camp invite, is a smooth, offensively gifted defender with high end hockey sense and skill. He moves the puck well in all three zones, is able to get tight coverage on forwards because of his skating ability and is clever in his own end using his stick and body positioning to defend. The Phantoms went north of the border for their fourth round selection in Cameron Hillis, the leading scorer for the talent rich York Simcoe Express of Ontario. He was selected in the second round of the OHL draft so it’s bit of a risk play but if he reports than Youngstown is getting a big time playmaker who has the speed, the skill and the offensive awareness to be a star in the USHL. In the next round, they went after another OHL Draft pick in Cade Murnan-Mechor, a heavy style defender who takes the body and overpowers opponents in the trenches. The Phantoms dipped back into the Canadian talent pool in the sixth and eighth round, the first of which being a Nova Scotia native in small, dynamic playmaker Andrew Coxhead. He’s headed to Salisbury School next season which could reduce their CHL risk that he jets for the Q. They then selected OHL fourth rounder Peter Muzyka, a big, versatile defenseman who can do a little of everything. He played power play and penalty kill for the Titans, can cover a lot of ice despite an akward stride and is strong in the tough ice. He does a nice job using his size and reach to win battles in his own end, come out of scrums with the puck and lead the breakout. The seventh, ninth and tenth round picks were made from eastern US prospects that are a bit under the radar but have some upside in Thomas Kramer, John Malone and Nolan Barrett. Thomas Kramer is a tall, slick forward with a hard, accurate shot and 200 ft game who played a key role on Mass HS powerhouse BC High. Malone is a good sized, smooth handler from Delbarton and Nolan Barrett is a big, athletic defenseman from the NJ Hitmen 16U.
The Phantoms selected 6 forwards, 4 defensemen and 0 goalies. They drafted players from Ontario (2), Eastern Canada, NE Prep School, Tier 1 Midgets (5) and USHS.
Sioux Falls Stampede #3
Picks: Gavin Hain (R1:#1), Jaxon Nelson (R1:#9), Matthew Gould (R2:#25), John Murray (R3: #34), MacIntyre Wiseman (R4: #61), Mike Vorlicky (R5: #73), Riley Hughes (R6: #89), Brehdan Engum (R7: #105), Jack Bayless (R8: #121), Kyler Grundy (R9: #137),Peter Diliberatore (R10: #153)
Best Player: Gavin Hain (F, 5-11/181, Grand Rapids HS) – North Dakota commit out of Minnesota HS, has good size, plays a two-way game, slick handed and displays mature hockey sense for his age. He started getting a lot of attention as one of the youngest players in the Minnesota Elite League in the fall, where he proved he can not only keep up with the older competition but excel. He was a force in Minnesota High School hockey throughout the season but really came on at the end of the year and into the playoffs compiling a 5-6-11 line over his last 3 games. He turned down an invitation to the US National Development Team in order to continue his Minnesota HS career so while Stampede have an immediate impact forward, they’ll have to be patient with him
Best Value: Kyler Grundy (F, 6-1/180, Milwaukee Jr. Admirals) – Grundy looked poised for a big season after a strong showing at the Select 15 Nationals where he used his size and long stride to create offense and his hustle and compete to break up plays away from the puck. He had a mediocre season, showing flashes of greatness but lacked consistency. With that being said, getting a 6-1 power forward with a high compete and skating ability in the 9th round is a good value.
Overall: A Sioux Falls took advantage of their location in being close to Minnesota to grab two prospects who turned down NTDP in Gavin Hain and Jaxon Nelson. These are players who will likely play Minnesota High School next year; however, they could join the team before and/or after the high school season. Both of their first round picks are among the top 15 forwards in the age group in the country and can contribute next season. Their second round pick was a bit of a surprise, not because Gould isn’t talented, but he is relatively unknown even among the New England crowd, so he would have, in all likely hood, still been available in the later part of the draft.John Murray was a nice pick in the 3rd round, a smooth skating offensive defenseman from Nobles & Greenough (NE Prep). He has soft, elusive hands and the ability to evade pressure and either skate the puck out of this end or stretch the ice with precision passing. In the middle rounds (4-7) they took a pair of mobile, puck moving defenseman in James MacIntyre Wiseman (Skipjacks HC) and Mike Vorlicky (Edina HS). Wiseman had a strong season in the USPHL U16 level as a consistent offensive threat on both the power play and even strength. He’s got decent size and strength for this age group and possess smooth hands, an ability to walk the offensive blue line and get pucks to the net. Riley Hughes, a St. Sebastians product, only played 19 games this season with a 3-3-6 line but showed a lot of upside with a tall lanky frame and keen offensive instincts. The seventh and eighth round were spent on a pair of Minnesota products in Brehdan Engum, a rangy, steady defenseman out of Burnsville HS and Minnetonka Bantam standout Jack Bayless. In the late rounds they took a great value pick in Kyler Grundy, a big, power forward with good feet and the willingness to go into dirty areas and fight for the puck. They took a swing late in the draft with smart, dynamic, offensive defender Peter Diliberatore, a Quinnipiac commit out of Darmouth Major Midgets (Nova Scotia) who will be attending Salisbury School next season.
Overall they took highly skilled players early in the draft that have a good probability of playing there, they drafted for value in the middle and late rounds and ended the draft with a high reward, low risk pick in Peter Diliberatore. They took 6 forwards, 5 defensemen and 0 goalies. Their class included players from Minnesota HS/Bantam (5), Tier 1 Midgets (3), NE Prep (2) and Eastern Canada.
Waterloo Blackhawks #4
Picks: Ben Brinkman (R1: #5), Colin Schmidt (R1:#10), Ben Helgeson (R2: #26), John Drury (R2: #28), Ryan Drkulec (R4: #58), Michael Ferrandino (R5: #74), Ian Mageau (R6: #90), Andy Stoneman (R8: # 106), Tyler Borsch (R9: #138), Evan MacKinnon (R10: #154).
Best Player: Ben Brinkman (D, 6-0/174, Edina HS) While Waterloo had four picks in the first two rounds, Brinkman is clearly their best player. He’s an athletic skater with a long fluid stride, strong edges and lateral mobility. He has swift hands and a rocket shot from the point that gets through traffic. He’s at his best with the puck on his stick but is underrated defensively where he shows great anticipation skills and the ability to intercept passes and go the other way with it. He was injured for most of the season at Edina but when he did play he was one of the best players on the ice as a 15-year-old. A Minnesota commit who turned down a spot with NTDP in order to return to Edina HS where he is a multi-sport athlete.
Value Pick: Michael Ferrandino (D, 5-10/160, Chicago Young Americans 16U) An agile, shifty, smooth skating versatile defenseman who sees the ice, has great poise and makes good decisions with the puck. He’s a bit undersized and will need to improve his strength but he’s got an active stick and breaks up passes and is willing to go down to block shots. He’s also excellent on the breakout evading forecheckers and making the first pass.
Overall: A If the grade was derived purely from skill accumulation then this would be an A grade, but having four picks in the first two rounds really helps. They started the draft with Minnesota’s top 2000 defenseman in Ben Brinkman. The only issue here is that he already turned down a spot with the National Program to play at Edina and participate in other sports so there is a risk he doesn’t play in the USHL and if he does it could be a one and done situation. They stayed in the state of Minnesota for their second pick with in the first round with Wayzata HS power forward Colin Schmidt. The sophomore forward took his game to the next level this season making the jump from Bantams and was the teams leading scorer with 12 goals in 25 games. He seems to get bigger every time we see him and currently stands at 6-5/220. His feet haven’t caught up to the rest of his body but he plays a tough, physical game, has decent hands and a heavy shot. He likes to get in on the forecheck, finish checks and grind down opponents in the corners and in front of the net. They went to the Minnesota well for their third pick in Ben Helgeson from Hill Murray. He’s an honest center with a two-way game, tight handle in stride and a quick release. He still has a way to go before he reaches his potential but he made a seamless transition to Minnesota HS as a 15-year-old and didn’t back down to older, strong players. Jack Drury, another NTDP invite out of the Chicago Mission, was the Black Hawks fourth selection. He’s an intriguing player because he plays a heavy game, strong in the corners and along the wall but has another dimension. He’s very intelligent, reads the play and finds the soft spots on the ice to buy extra time and space. He’s also an excellent passer, not only in his decision making but his touch on the puck. Waterloo’s next four picks featured three big bodied Minnesota forwards (see a pattern?) in Ryan Drkulec, a cerebral power forward out of Shattuck St. Mary’s 16U, Ian Mageau, big, strong, 200-feet forward out of Duluth East HS and Andy Stoneman, a raw, rangy winger out of Shattuck St. Mary’s. In the middle of those picks was Michael Ferrandino, a polished, puck moving defenseman from the Chicago Young Americans 16U. He’s a smart, skilled, undersized player who has potential to run a power play at this level in the future. The last two picks for Waterloo were Tyler Borsch, a tough to play against, mobile defenseman out of Maple Grove HS (MN) and Evan MacKinnon, a tall, rangy defender out of Nova Scotia.
Waterloo picked 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 0 goalies. Their draft picks include players from Minnesota HS (5), Tier 1 Midgets (4) (2 of which from Shattuck St. Mary’s) and Eastern Canada. They seem to value Minnesota prospects and size as only one player they drafted is 5’10” or shorter and 7 of their 10 draft picks played in the state of Minnesota this past season.
Cedar Rapids RoughRidgers #5
Picks: TJ Walsh (R1: #16), Drew DeRidder (R3: #48), Harrison Roy (R4: #64), Cannon Green (R5: #80), Alex Nordstrom (R6: #86), Peter Garrett (R6: #96), Ethan Manderville (R7:#112), Jordan Tonelli (R8: #128), Brendan Budy (R9: #144), Calvin Dybicz (R10: #160).
Best Player: TJ Walsh (F, 5-9/160, Cushing Academy) A New England prep player who missed a lot of summer, fall and early part of winter hockey due to an injury. When he returned, he picked right up where he left off and showed to be one of the elite forwards in the age group. He was selected to NTDP camp and was the leading goal scorer there. He’s got a great mind for the game and the puck skill and poise to make any play. One of the best passers in the country given his vision, touch and accuracy all while at full speed.
Value Pick: Harrison Roy (F, 5-11/155, Boston Jr. Bandits 16U) You could make an argument for a lot of players here as DeRidder the goalie who led the USA to a gold medal against Canada in the Youth Olympics is a steal in the third round. Cannon Green is great value in the 5th round and late in the draft they picked up a pair of Division 1 committed forwards in Jordan Tonelli (Brown) and Brendan Budy (Denver). Roy has good size, smooth hands and can play a power or finesse game depending on the circumstance. He was a top performer this past summer in Buffalo at the Select 15 Festival and went on to lead the Jr. Bandits in points this year. He’s a versatile, long, skilled forward with his best hockey ahead of him.
Overall: A- In many ways Cedar Rapids had an A+ draft considering they had the last pick in each round. Getting TJ Walsh on a tender was one of the best moves of the draft and then following that up with Drew DeRidder in the third round and Harrison Roy in the fourth round. DeRidder is a quick, aggressive goaltender who plays beyond the crease and has an active glove hand. In the fifth round they took another good value play in Cannon Green, one of the top forwards for a talented Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16 team. He’s got good size, balanced skating and deceptively quick hands. They stayed in state of Michigan for the next pick but this time going after Alex Nordstrom out of Hancock HS where he scored over a goal a game in high school hockey. In the same round they picked up prep defenseman PJ Garrett out of Thayer, a big, raw defenseman still figuring out his game but has real upside as he fills into his frame. The next big splash was late in the draft when they took the best players available in Jordan Tonelli and Brendan Budy. Tonelli is an emerging prep star who recently committed to Brown University, the risk there is that he attends a high academic school and chances are he stays until graduation especially considering he’s committed to an Ivy. He’s a tall, sleak, athletic forward with slick hands and touch around the net. Budy is a Denver commit out of Delta Academy in Western Canada who has signed with Langely Rivermen of the BCHL next season. Lastly, a potential steal for the Rough Riders was Ethan Manderville out of Gloucester Rangers of Ontario Minor Midget hockey who was injured most of the season but when he played he stood out. He’s a tall, strong power forward with a combination of toughness and skill. He handles well for his size, can really shoot the puck and wins battles all over the ice. If they can get any of those three late rounder’s to come, even for one year, it’d be a risk well taken.
Overall Cedar Rapids found themselves with the last pick each round but was able to do really well in the early and mid-rounds with high value picks and closed with low risk, high reward prospects. They selected 7 forwards, 2 defenseman and 1 goalie. They were diverse in their prospect pool taking players in Ontario, Michigan HS, NE Prep School (3), Western Canada and Tier 1 Midget (5).
Bloomington Thunder #6
Picks: Calen Kiefiuk (R1: #13), Brady Smith (R2: #29), Drew Elser (R3: #45), Jeremy Davidson (R5: #77), Jake Murray (R6: #93), Tommy Lyons (R7: #106), Bradley Marek (R7: #109), Hunter Brackett (R8: #125), Patrick Keegan Jr. (R9: #138), Arttu Nevasaari (R10, #157)
Best Player: Calen Kiefiuk (F, 5-8/175, Honeybaked 16U) A smaller, skilled forward with high level hockey sense and the ability to slow the game down, draw defenders towards him and exploit them with the stick, the pass or the shot. A multi-tooled prospect who finds ways to produce offensively.
Value Pick: Patrick Keegan Jr. (D, 6-0/190, Billerica HS) – A big, strong, tough defenseman who plays the game with a chip on his shoulder. His hands are a bit stiff and he misses passes while in stride but he’s an excellent shut down defenseman. He moves well for his size and loves to drop the shoulder and make forwards pay along the boards and in front of the net. A very difficult guy to get around.
Overall: A- Bloomington did a great job in the early rounds of the draft walking away with three players who could have all gone in the top two rounds in Calen Kiefiuk, Brady Smith and Drew Elser. Picking up Smith and Elser late in the 2nd and 3rd rounds is pretty impressive. Smith is a small, highly skilled puck possession defenseman out of the Chicago Mission program while Elser played third fiddle most of the year to one of the best midget lines in the country in Emilio Pettersen-Joel Farabee-Drew-Elser. With that being said Elser is a real talent in his own right, he’s got great burst and the ability to think the game and make plays at top speed. Bloomington’s fifth round selection was Elgin Middlesex leading scorer Jake Murray of Ontario (4th Round pick in OHL Draft to Hamilton Bulldogs).He’s a dynamic talent for this stage in the draft but carries CHL risk. The Thunder’s later round picks were similar in the sense that they were high ceiling prospects like Patrick Keegan Jr. (Billerica HS), Bradley Marek (Fox Motors) and Tommy Lyons (St. Sebastians) who have a good size/skill combo. Keegan Jr. and Lyons, both teammates on the split season Boston Jr. Eagles, could end up being the best players in this team’s draft when it’s all said and done. Keegan is a big, rugged defender who takes the body and grinds down opposing forwards and Lyons is a tall, athletic, fluid skater with smooth hands.Also noteable was the selection of emerging talent out of the Boston Jr. Bruins, Hunter Brackett, the nephew of Vancouver Canucks scout Judd Brackett.
The Thunder took 8 forwards, 2 defensemen and 0 goalies. Their draft class was composed of players from Tier 1 Midgets (6), NE Prep, USHS, Ontario and Finland
Green Bay Gamblers #7
Picks: Jackson Perbix (R1: #15), Demetrios Koumontzis (R2: #31), Ethan Frisch (R3: #47), Ben Schultheis (R4: #62), Chase Pletzke (R4: #63), Tyler Spott (R5: #79), Noah Prokop (R6: #95), Christian Berger (R7: #111), Kacper Ryba (R8: #127), Luke Moncada (R9: #143), McKade Webster (R10: #159).
Best Player: Jackson Perbix (F, 6-0/160, Elk River HS) Perbix was an NTDP invite after a strong freshman campaign at Elk River HS in Minnesota. He’s tall but thin, has a fluid stride and soft, elusive hands. He’s tough to defend 1v1 and has a quick release. While he’s still growing into his frame he is able to protect the puck well in the corners and has a deceptively quick first step.
Value Pick: Ben Schultheis (D, 6-2/195, TPH Thunder 16U) An NTDP camp invitee fell to the fourth round providing a great opportunity for Green Bay to draft here with very little risk. He’s a big bodied, smooth handed, first pass defenseman who can play a physical game when called upon. He isn’t flashy and tends to move the puck quickly instead of trying to skate it end to end like other talented defenseman his age. He’ll need to improve his lateral mobility but at his size and with his skill set, this is a great pickup for Green Bay here.
Overall: A- Green Bay did a nice job at the draft despite having the second to last pick in each round. Perbix started things off with a quality Minnesota HS prospect and then they were able to pick up an Edina product who played for Arizona Jr Coyotes this past season in Demetrios Koumontzis. He’s a nifty playmaker who plays a headsy game with pace. There next three picks in the third and fourth round were what made their draft, in high value prospects Ethan Frisch, Ben Schultheis and Chase Pletzke. Frisch is another Minnesota product out of Moorhead who had a strong festival last summer in Buffalo, NY at Select 15’s and followed it up with a highly productive bantam season. He’s an agile defenseman who can escape with the puck in high pressure situations, plays a tight gap and contributes at both ends of the ice. He was voted Player of the Year in Bantams by Youth Hockey Hub in Minnesota. Ben Schultheis is a great value in the fourth round, an NTDP Invite with size and skating ability. He is raw but several tools (size, stride, shot, first pass, economical hands) and upside. Chase Pletzke has excellent hockey sense and vision with the ability to make a few moves, buy some time and space and deliver tape to tape passes. If you track back a lot of goals that Oakland scored this season, he was the one who started the play whether it was his name on the stat sheet or not. The next pick was Tyler Spott, an undersized, puck mover out of Toronto Marlies organization in Ontario. His father is Steve Spott, the assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks with Peter DeBoer (NTDP U17 forward Jack DeBoer’s father). Noah Prokop is another value pick out of Shattuck St. Mary’s where he is coming off a National Championship season. He compiled a 8-32-40 line over 51 games. Prokop’s a balanced skater who is tough to knock off the puck, has a hard wrist shot and underrated hockey sense. The later round selections were started by Christian Berger, younger brother of two D1 players, both of which were late bloomers. He’s a polished skater, makes good reads under pressure and doesn’t hesitate, when he sees an opening, to advance the puck. The last round picks mixed in Chicago power forward in Kacper Ryba with 3rd Round OHL draft pick Luke Moncada. Moncada is a big bodied, two-way forward who isn’t the best skater but covers a lot of ice, grinds down opposing defenseman in the corners and has a strong net front presence. McKade Webster was the second to last pick in the draft, a Midget AA hidden gem who led Shattuck St. Mary’s AA team this season with a 29-31-60 line in 52 games.
The Gamblers drafted 7 forwards, 4 defensemen and 0 goalies. They got their players from Tier 1 Midgets (7), Ontario (2) and Minnesota HS (2).
Fargo Force #8
Picks: Ryan Savage (R1: #7), Sammy Steele (R4: #55), Conner Hutchison (R5: #71), Coltan Wilkie (R6: #87), Mason Salquist (R6: #94), Valentino Passarelli (R7: #103) Brady Hinz (R8: #119), Jonathan Tychonick (R9: #135), Ross Mitton (R10: #151).
Best Player: Ryan Savage (F, 5-10/165, EC Salzburg U18) An NTDP Camp invite, Savage has excellent puck control in all situations. He shows poise and composure skating out of his end, is calm and collected through the neutral zone and patient around the goal mouth. He can slow the game down and pick defenseman apart with agile hands, a quick release and impressive vision to find his teammates.
Value Pick: Sammy Steele (F, 6-3/185, WBS Knights 18U) Another great value pick here for Fargo who had several in this draft (Hutchison, Wilkie, Tychonick, Mitton). What is surprising about Steele is how he dropped so far down. Keep in mind Steele outplayed Goldowski (NTDP selection) for much of the season, he’s 6’3,” has great hands and hockey sense. He’ll need work on his acceleration and agility but a lot of that is due to still growing into his massive frame.
Overall: B+ Fargo was without a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick which put them in a tough place but they rebounded very nicely in the middle and late rounds. The Force drafted Savage early (who we aren’t as high on as others but he was certainly a first round talent) then they had to wait out the 2nd and 3rd rounds, but were still able to get a pair of D1 commits: Sammy Steele and Conner Hutchison. Hutchison is a skilled offensive minded defenseman who joins the rush at every opportunity and has the skating ability and stick skill to make it happen. He needs to play a more disciplined game before he can make the jump to junior hockey but from a pure skill perspective he’s a top 20 defenseman in this age group. In the middle rounds they selected another great value pick in Colton Wilkie, a small, agile yet gritty defenseman out of the Omaha AAA program. He’s got a good stick, retrieves pucks and moves it up ice quickly with the ability to maneuver around forecheckers. Mason Salquist was picked in the same round and could be a steal as well. He was linemates with Braden Costello at Grand Forks (ND) and while Costello was the better player, the gap isn’t as wide as some would believe. He’s shifty, smart, crafty playmaker who see’s the ice really well and puts pucks on his teammates stick. In the late rounds they targeted two Canadian prospects, Brazy Hinz who was the third round pick by Sarnia Sting after playing Minor Midget Hockey for Huron Perth in Ontario and Jonathan Tychonick, a North Dakota commit out of Calgary Flames Minor Midget. Hinz could very well end up in the OHL and Tychonick is already committed to Penticton Vees next season, but if either one ends up at Fargo then it would be a tremendous pick. Lastly, they rounded out the draft with work horse Ross Mitton who plays hard and with passion for North Jersey Avalanche 16U.
The team drafted 6 forwards, 3 defensemen and 0 goalies. They casted a big net and grabbed players from Tier 1 Midgets (5), USHS, Western Canada and Ontario.
Chicago Steel #9
Picks: Blake McLaughlin (R1: #6), Alec Regula (R2: #22), Adam Robbins (R2: #32), Brandon Tabakin (R3: #37), Samuel Stevens (R3: #38), Jeremie Bucheler (R3: #39), Xan Gurney (R4: #53), Marek Wazny (R6: #85), Braydon Leeking (R7: #102), Anderson MacDonald (R8: #118), Nicholas Seitz (R9: #134), Jared Mcisaac (R10: #150)
Best Player: Blake McLaughlin (F, 5-11/160, Grand Rapids HS) – The Minnesota commit is a gifted center out of Grand Rapids HS who has an versatile skill set. He has speed down the wall, can shield the puck and drive the net or beat defenseman with his hands and feet 1v1. He’s got a powerful shot, doesn’t shy away from the tough ice and can make plays in traffic. A two-way, competitive center who can play several roles on a team.
Value Pick: Xan Gurney (D, 6-3/185, Detroit Little Caesars 16U) – One of the best value picks of the draft who many believed would be an NTDP invite early in the season at the Motor City Cup in Detroit. He’s a big, athletic, physical defenseman who is tough to play against. He’s mobile for his size, has a powerful slap shot from the point and takes the body in all three zones.
Overall: B+ While Chicago landed one of the best overall players in the draft in Blake McLaughlin, they made some head scratching moves in the second round picking up two prospects in Alec Regula and owners son Adam Robbins; who are both talented but would have been available later in the draft. Robbins is a mid-round talent at this stage, despite his quick first step and high hockey IQ, and Regula carries some risk given that he was a 4th round selection in the OHL Draft. They had three consecutive picks in the third round and picked up three difference makers in offensive defenseman Brandon Tabakin (NTDP Camp Invite), Samuel Stevens who is coming off a strong showing at Nationals in San Jose and highly touted Jeremie Bucheler out of Lac St. Louis. Tabakin is undersized but smart and highly skilled with the puck. Stevens is a multi-dimensional talent who hasn’t picked an identity yet but has the size, powerful stride and soft hands to develop into a size/skill combo forward. Bucheler has the size, the skill and the skating ability to be a top pick in the QMJHL draft this summer. Four of their last five picks came from north of the border playing midget minor in Ontario or Nova Scotia. Marek Wazny was the first of those picks, a player who shined at last summer’s Select 15 Festival in Buffalo, NY and played for highly touted Toronto Jr. Canadians. Braydon Leeking, a highly productive power forward out of the Central Ontario Wolves organization was next. Leeking is the better player but will be heavily pursued by the Flint Firebirds who selected him in the sixth round of the OHL Draft. The next two Canadians they selected came from Nova Scotia area, they are two big bodied prospects in forward Anderson MacDonald out of St. John Vito’s and offensive defenseman Jared Mcisaac out of Cole Harbour. Mcisaac played alongside OHL first overall pick Ryan Merkley at the Youth Olympics and showed his skill with the puck and hockey IQ. He’ll be a high pick in the QMJHL draft. In the middle of the Steels run on Canadians was North Jersey Avalanche forward Nicholas Seitz who is a tall, lanky prospect who is light on his feet, quick handed and moves the puck quickly.
The Steel selected 7 forwards, 5 defenseman and 0 goalies. Of their 12 picks, they drafted players from all over North America including: Minnesota HS (1), Tier 1 Midget (6), Ontario (2) and Eastern CAN (3).
Muskegon Lumberjacks #10
Picks: Andrei Svechnikov (R2: #21), Caleb Everett (R2: #23), Bryan Lockner (R4: #54), Matt Staudacher (R5: #69), Owen Farris (R5: #70), Connor Sweeney (R7: #101), Donny Borgula (R8: #117), Zachary Borgiel (R9: #133), Ryan Stevens (R10: #149).
Best Player: **We are told by several sources that Andrei Svechnikov is one of the best 2000 born players in the world, but we have only seen a few video clips and cannot adequately evaluate him. So the best player we know in this class is Caleb Everett, a big, athletic, tough to play against defenseman. He has a heavy shot from the point, makes a swift, accurate first pass and keeps the game simple. He’ll be able to make the transition to junior hockey quickly and has the range to play a lot of different roles on the team.
Value Pick: Zachary Borgiel (G, 6-0/180, Honeybaked 16U) A fifth round pick in the OHL Draft by Niagara, Borgiel was a bit under the radar this past year playing 15U Midget AAA for Honeybaked. He’s got a big frame, good footwork, comes out of the net and cuts down the angle without getting out of position and has fast reflexes. He was one to the top goalies last summer at the Select 15 Festival in Buffalo, NY.
Overall: B+ It is tough to assess this draft when we don’t have adequate viewings of their top pick Andrei Svechnikov but if he is as good as advertised and if he indeed comes to Muskegon than this class is an “A.” Without a first and third round pick in this draft, Muskegon had to navigate in tough territory and did so very well. Caleb Everett is a USHL ready defenseman who could compete for a roster spot as a 16-year-old. They had to wait until the fourth round to get another pick but settled on Bryan Lockner, a strong, puck possession forward with soft hands and a two-way game. He was injured for much of the season but came on strong at the end of the season, played the point on power plays, showed poise and vision distributing pucks from the blue line and a powerful wrist shot. He also scored some big goals in the playoffs. Their next pick came in the fifth round with the selection of big defenseman Matt Staudacher of Shattuck St Mary’s U16, coming off a National Championship. He’s a long, athletic, two-way defender who is tough to get around as he uses a combination of reach, body positioning and physicality to keep opponents away from the net. The next two picks are quality power forwards who are a bit under the radar in Owen Farris out of Dallas Stars 16U and Connor Sweeney of Pingree School. Sweeney has more upside but Farris is the bigger and stronger of the two. The last three picks include workhorse Donny Borgula out of Little Caesars U16, Zachary Borgiel, a tall, athletic goaltender out of Honeybaked and surprise pick Ryan Stevens.
The Lumberjacks selected 6 forwards, 2 defensemen and 1 goalie. They drafted players from Tier 1 Midget (6), Russia, NE Prep School and Midget American.
Lincoln Stars #11
Picks: Christian Krygier (R1: #11), Chase McLane (R2: #27), Phillippe LaPointe (R3: #43), Wyatt Schlaht (R4: #59), Cole Krygier (R5: #75), Trevor Peca (R6: #91), Zach Dubinsky (R6: #92), Jack McBain (R7: #107), Noah Dobson (R8: #123), Max Johnson (R9: #139), Beck Moore (R10: #155).
Best Player: Christian Krygier (D, 6-0/165, Little Caesars 16U) A tall, athletic, two-way defenseman who has a vast set of skills. He can play a mean, tough, physical game, going fearlessly into the dirty areas and winning battles. He’s a gifted skater whose strong on his edges which gives him extra pop when the drops the shoulder. He can also play an offensive game, he’s capable of taking the puck end to end, has a heavy shot from the point and moves the puck well on the power play. He’s a multi-dimensional talent who we thought should have been an NTDP selection.
Value Pick: Cole Krygier (F, 6-1/165, Little Caesars 16U) Cole is one of the most underrated prospects in the draft, partially because of his older brothers success. On another team in the T1EHL or HPHL he may be a top 3 forward, certainly top 6, so he didn’t get all the opportunities he probably deserved given the talent depth of his team. He’s got good size, very athletic, not afraid to get in the dirty areas and fight for pucks and goes hard to the net. He’s still developing his stride and stickhandling ability in order to reach his potential but the heart is there.
Overall: B They signed a great tender in Christian Krygier and followed that up with two Tier 1 midget forwards in Chase McLane and Phillippe LaPointe. Both of these guys come from top programs and are a bit overshadowed by some of their higher profile teammates. McLane is an honest, two-way center with good size, north-south speed, and a willingness to drive the net and finish his checks on the forecheck. His skill dimension is a work in progress but its improving each time we see him. LaPointe isn’t flashy either, he’s strong on the puck, tough to play against, has impressive vision and awareness in all three zones and a quick stick around the goal mouth. Their next four picks were all wingers starting with Wyatt Schlaht, a former Boston Jr. Eagles bantam who played top six minutes in his freshman year at St. Sebastian’s School. He’s raw but has good size and hockey sense and while his hands aren’t highly skilled he is able to beat defenders 1v1. Schlaht was followed by Christian Krygier’s brother Cole, who brings a strong, physical presence and is more USHL ready than many drafted above him. Trevor Peca and Zach Dubinsky were selected in the sixth round; Peca was recently drafted in the first half of the OHL draft by Ottowa 67’s and has proven to be a good skater with high compete and an all-around game. Dubinsky is a stalky, two-way winger who took a step back this year after as productive bantam major year with Chicago Mission. Some of that could be attributed to a lack of opportunities given the overall skill level of his team but the gap between he and the higher profile players seems to be getting wider. They took a big swing in the seventh round with OHL first rounder Jack McBain, the captain of the Don Mills Flyers in Ontario. He’s a skilled forward for his size and when he has time and space on the rush can make opposing goalies pay with a quick shot or pass. He’s less effective in tight areas but the upside is there to be a future NHLer. He’ll likely go the OHL route but it’s a good risk/reward pick for Lincoln. The last three picks include Noah Dobson, a rangy defenseman from EC Salzburg, Max Johnson, a tough, rugged defender out of Grand Forks HS (ND) and Beck Moore, a tall, lanky project who plays for the Colorado Thunderbirds 16U.
They selected 8 forwards, 3 defensemen and 0 goalies. They picked up players from Tier 1 Midgets (7), NE Prep School, USHS, Ontario and Europe (EC Salzburg).
Dubuque Fighting Saints #12
Picks: Jacob Semik (R1: #14), Aiden Fulp (R2: #30), Benjamin Sanderson (R3: #46), Logan Pietila (R5: #78), Noah Kim (R7:#110), Ryder Donovan (R8: #126), Nick Azarovitz (R9: #142), Nick Castro (R10: #158).
Best Player: Jacob Semik (D, 6-0/155, Honeybaked 16U) To get Semik at #14 might also be their best value pick. He looked like a shoe-in for NTDP most of the season as the smart, poised, offensive defenseman led Honeybaked in the HPHL. He had a so-so NTDP camp, taking a little time to get his feet under him but looked very strong at the U16 Nationals in San Jose, CA a few weeks later. He’s a real talent when the puck is on his stick, he can make forecheckers miss, has the poise and stick skill to make plays in traffic and excels quarterbacking the power play.
Value Pick: Noah Kim (D, 5-10/175, Cushing Academy) – It’s rare to see a first line defenseman at prep powerhouse Cushing Academy fall to the late rounds. He ran their powerplay along with Matt Dillon for most of the season as a ’00 and showed an excellent stick, good decision making and a balanced stride. He’s got some holes in his own end but not many players of his skill level are available in the second half of the draft.
Overall:B Dubuque started the draft with a homerun in their first pick and didn’t have to use a tender to acquire him. Aidan Fulp had a good combine which likely elevated his draft stock but the second round is a bit high given his whole body of work over the course of the season. He’s got great size, he’s smart and composed on the backend but has some skating deficiencies. A high ceiling prospect but will take more time to develop before he’s ready to play a regular shift in the USHL. They took a shot at a Western Canada prospect who played minor midget out of Calgary and was a 6th round draft pick in the WHL last year (he’s not on our database). Logan Pietila, a skilled forward, Noah Kim, an offensive defenseman, and Ryder Donovan, an honest two-way power forward, were all good values in the later rounds. The second to last pick in Nick Azarovitz is a smart one because he’s still really raw but has great size and defensive awareness to develop into a solid defender in the USHL.
The Saints selected 5 forwards, 3 defensemen and 0 goalies. They drafted players from Tier 1 Midget (5), Western Canada, NE Prep School and Minnesota HS.
Tri City Storm #13
Picks: Jace Foskey (R1: #12), Wyllum Deveaux (R3: #44), Jack Jensen (R4: #60), Jack Lagerstrom (R5: #66), Ryan Roth (R5: #75), Matthew Falls (R7: #108), Connor Hopkins (R8: #124), Logan Cash (R9: #140), Hunter Nofs (R10: #156).
Best Player: Jace Foskey (D, 6-1/175, Dallas Stars U16) or Wyllum Deveaux (F, 6-1/175, Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget). It’s tough to say one of these players is better than the other so we called it a tie. Foskey was an NTDP camp invite coming off a strong season with the Dallas Stars 16U and seems to get better and better every viewing. He’s got a big frame that he’s still growing into, moves well in all three zones, is able to play tight gaps through the neutral zone and will challenge opposing forwards at both blue lines. He forces dumps by challenging forwards in the neutral zone and is able to turn and retrieve pucks, quickly move up ice and break the puck out with his feet or his stick. Deveaux on the other hand is more of a big bodied power forward who plays a north-south game and excels in the heavy traffic areas. He needs to improve his quickness and agility, but he’s got a powerful stride and when he posts up in front of the net, he’s tough to move. The Don Mills big man has good touch around the net and the ability to elevate the puck in tight or find passing lanes through traffic. He’s a much better passer than he gets credit for and is decisive under duress.
Value Pick: Connor Hopkins (G, 6-0/190, Belmont Hill) Hopkins was a freshman at Belmont Hill this past season and saw the majority of action in net; a real rarity at the prep school level. He has size, tracks the puck well and competes from start to finish. He’ll need to improve his rebound control as he is more of a shot blocker at this point, but he’s excellent 1v1, he takes up a lot of net and is tough to beat down low.
Overall: B The Storm selected three highly touted players through their first three picks, found great value in the middle and late rounds and took some calculated low risk/high reward prospects with their final two picks. Foskey and Deveaux as explained above are the two best prospects in the class, they bring size, toughness and a two-way game to the lineup. The Storm were probably thrilled to see Jack Jensen, NTDP invite forward out of Minnesota Bantams, still on the board late into the fourth round and immediately picked him up. Jensen didn’t shine at the NTDP Invite camp but was one of the best Bantams in the state this past season with good size, a hard shot and an elusive stick. He’s got just the right amount of toughness and finesse, he can go into dirty areas, come out with the puck, isolate a defender in open ice and beat them 1v1 with a deke or dropping the shoulder. In the fifth round they selected two excellent value picks in Jack Lagerstrom and Ryan Roth. Lagerstrom is coming off a National Championship in San Jose at the U16 Nationals. He’s a big bodied, two-way defender who plays tough in his own end and has a heavy shot from the blue line. He’ll need to improve his first few steps and lateral mobility but he’s strong, uses his stick really well to defend and has great anticipation. Ryan Roth is a little guy but can stop on a dime and accelerate instantly in any direction. He’s shifty through traffic and tough to put a body on. He also processes the game at a fast pace, is decisive with the puck and an effortless passer. In the second half of the draft the Storm selected two Canadiens, first was Matthew Falls out of the Toronto Jr. Canadians and then Logan Cash in the ninth round out of Halifax McDonalds in Eastern Canada. Falls was drafted in the sixth round of the OHL draft by Peterborough and is a big, rugged north-south power skater who works his tail off. He isn’t flashy nor is he highly skilled but he goes into the dirty areas, plays physical and comes out with the puck. He can carry in open ice and protect in traffic areas but needs to improve 1v1 skills. We don’t know much about Cash, we saw him earlier in the season with Halifax but don’t have adequate viewings to properly evaluate him. They spent their other two picks on Connor Hopkins, a young starter at the New England Prep level this past season with Belmont Hill and Honeybaked U15 star Hunter Nofs with their last pick. Hopkins is a great value here as he’s got a great frame, high compete and makes the first save. He excelled at the Select 15’s last summer in Buffalo and carried that momentum throughout the season. Nofs was an under the radar guy until the OHL Cup where he played alongside Tag Bertuzzi and led TPH Thunder in points through 4 games. He’s got size at 6-0/185, is a strong skater and can score from beyond the dots. He was drafted in the eleventh round of the OHL draft by Mississauga.
Tri City selected 7 forwards, 1 defenseman and 1 goalie. The players came from a diverse background: Tier 1 Midget (4), Ontario (2), NE Prep, Eastern Canada and Minnesota Bantams.
Sioux City Musketeers #14
Picks: Sampo Ranta (R2: #17), Todd Scott (R3: #33), Mathieu De St. Phalle (R4: #49), Jacques Bouquot (R4: #57), Jackson Wozniak (R5: #65), Jack Babbage (R6: #81), Will Brown (R7: #97), Jake Seitz (R8: #113), Zach Zemlak (R9: #129), Drew Bavaro (R10: #145).
Best Player: Jacques Bouquot (F, 6-1/165, Salisbury School) Bouquot was one of the top performing forwards at the U16 Nationals in San Jose, CA while playing for the Yale Bulldogs. The big, athletic, power forward had a great freshman season at Salisbury and similar to the Sammy Steele/Jacob Goldowski situation, there were many times this season where Bouquot was the better player between he and NTDP forward Jack DeBoer. Bouquot is beginning to form an identity, playing with power and a touch of finesse, a hard shot and high compete level. Sampo Ranta is a highly skilled prospect out of EC Salzburg U18 but having only seen him twice as a staff we didn’t feel comfortable saying he’s the best.
Value Pick: Will Brown (D, 5-9/145, Colorado Thunderbirds 16U) Bouquot is obviously the best value given his talent level, upside and where he was drafted but to avoid replication we think Will Brown is a great value pick in the seventh round. He’s a top four defenseman for one of the best Tier 1 Midget U16 teams in the country and plays in all situations. He’s undersized but an agile skater with soft hands and the ability to break the puck out of his end with a pass or carry. He can maneuver his way through traffic in the neutral zone, gain the offensive zone and feed passes through the slot to his teammates.
Overall: B- Sioux City did not have a first round pick and used their second rounder on a Finnish forward from the EC Salzburg program out of Austria in Sampo Ranta. For the second year in a row the Musketeers tender a finnish forward. In the third round they selected Todd Scott, an NTDP invite goalie and member of the Youth Olympics Gold Medal team, out of the Omaha AAA program has size, composure and confidence. He tracks the puck well, gets square to the shooter and never seems to get rattled. The fourth round was really where Sioux City earned their high grade with the selections of two forwards: Mathieu De St. Phalle from the Chicago Mission U16 and Jacques Bouquot from Salisbury School. De St. Phalle is a small but intelligent play maker who can read the ice and put his line mates in the best position to make plays. He’s not a fluid skater but can accelerate instantly from a stand-still and has excellent passing ability with both touch and vision. Bouquot is a honest, power forward who brings a healthy dose of athleticism, compete and size. Their fifth round pick comes from LA Jr. Kings program in left shot forward Jackson Wozniak who played on their top line alongside highly skilled linemates Jacob McGrew and Cole Guttman. He’s an honest player, supports the puck, has a soft set of hands and a balanced stride allowing him to win battles along the boards. In the sixth round they selected the talented Jack Babbage out of the Don Mills Flyers Minor Midgets. He’s a tall, defensive minded defender who has good quickness for his size, takes the body and uses his positioning and reach to keep opposing forwards off balance. He isn’t overly skilled with the puck but makes clean, efficient passes on the breakout and is able to win battles all over the ice. In the late rounds the Muskateers drafted some value highlighted by Will Brown, a skilled, puck moving defenseman from the Colorado Thunderbirds where he played alongside Colby Bukes. The next two picks come out of Minnesota HS with Jacob Seitz, a crafty goal scorer out of Virginia HS (MN) and Zachary Zemlak, a savy, two-way, decisive defenseman with a high compete level. The last pick was younger brother to NHL draft prospect Vito Bavaro; Drew is a top four defender at Lawrence Academy despite being one of the team’s youngest players. He’s athletic, makes mature decisions with the puck and has a large frame to grow into.
The Musketeers selected 4 forwards, 5 defensemen and 1 goalie. These prospects come from Finland, Tier 1 Midgets (4), NE Prep School (2), Ontario and Minnesota HS (2).
Madison Capitols #15
Picks: Ryan O’Reilly (R1:#4), Devlin McCabe (R2: #20), Landon Langenbrunner (R3: #36), Kevin Wall (R3: #42), Luke Loheit (R4: #52), Isaiah Saville (R5: #68), Hunter Carrick (R6: #84), Christian Felton (R7: #100), Dane Stoyanoff (R8: #116), Parker Storck (R9: #132), Jack Michels (R10: #148)
Best Player: Ryan O’Reilly (F, 6-0/185, Dallas Stars 16U) O’Reilly was a 5th round selection in the WHL draft last year and comes to the draft after a strong showing at the NTDP Invite camp. His game translates well to the USHL because he’s got size, he plays a two-way game and competes every shift. The biggest adjustment younger players making the transition to the league is the size, strength and speed of the game and the required effort at both ends of the ice. In that regard, O’Reilly may be the most USHL ready prospect in the draft because he already possess those traits.
Value Pick: Hunter Carrick (D, 6-0/185, Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 16U) Carrick is raw but talented, good-sized defenseman out of Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16. He hasn’t quite established an identity at the midget level because he is good at everything but we see him as a two-way defender at the next level who can contribute on both special teams units. He’s got size, he’s mobile in every direction, he moves the puck quickly and plays with an edge. He does a nice job holding the offensive blue line and is tough to get around on 1v1’s.
Overall: B- Madison nabbed one of the best right wings in the age group with their first pick and secured one of the best ‘00s in Minnesota in center Devlin McCabe of St. Paul Academy. McCabe is both smart and skilled and has already notched over 100 points in Minnesota HS hockey as a 16 year old. They stayed in the state of Minnesota for their next pick with the son of NHLer Jamie Langenbrunner of Cloquet. Kevin Wall was taken with the next pick, an emerging power forward from the Buffalo Jr. Sabers U16 with a long stride, soft and patient hands and deceptive vision and awareness. They dived back into Minnesota, this time at the Bantam level, grabbing the tall, fast, sharp shooter in Luke Loheit of Minnetonka. The next three picks (rounds 5-7) Madison was able to get solid value in NTDP invitee goaltender Isaiah Saville of West Anchorage, AK, Hunter Carrick a multi-dimensional defenseman from the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and Christian Felton, an undersized, crafty, puck moving defenseman out of the Cleveland Barons organization. With the last three picks the Capitals selected another prospect of from Cloquet, MN in big, shut down defender Dane Stoyanoff. The last two selections were spent on hometown Madison Jr. Capitals forwards Parker Storck and small speedster Jack Michels.
The Capitols drafted 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie. They focused most of their attention close to home with 2 locals from Madison Jr. Capitols, 4 Minnesota HS/Bantam, 4 Tier 1 Midgets and 1 USHS.
Des Moines Buccaneers #16
Picks: Braden Costello (R1: #2), Stanislav Demin (R2: #18), Christian Stoever (R3: #34), Brady Ziemer (R4: #50), Cam Knuble (R6: #82), Justin Engelkes (R7: #98), Antonio Andreozzi (R8: #114), Luke Robinson (R9: #130), Mathias Laferriere (R10: #142).
Best Player: Braden Costello (F, 6-2/195, Grand Forks HS (ND)) – Costello plays like a man, he’s got a big frame, he can hammer the puck and protects well in traffic and along the wall. He isn’t the flashiest player and it’s tough to tell how his game will translate against better competition, but he’s the type of player who has the size, toughness and goal scoring ability to come in and compete for a roster spot as a 16 year old.
Value Pick: Antonio Andreozzi (D, 5-11/160, Rivers School) Andreozzi was a bit of an under the radar prospect until the second half of the prep season where the ’00 defenseman was getting a regular shift with Holy Cross commit Frank Boie and UConn commit Mike Young. He proved himself in every facet of the game, but seemed to shine on the power play. He’s a gifted skater, he can cover a lot of ice, is athletic on the offensive blue line and makes a flat, accurate, quick first pass. Brown commit.
Overall: C In fairness to Des Moines we thought their first pick last year was a stretch and he ended up playing 57 games in the USHL this season as a 16-year-old. Costello is a talented player who is USHL ready but he would likely have been available in the second round given where he plays. Stanislav Demin is a quality get in the second round, an NTDP Camp Invitee who has size and mobility but he’s committed to Wenatchee Wild for next season in the BCHL so his value takes a hit. Stoever, a highly touted goalie after his bantam year with Honeybaked has some size and athleticism, but given the year he had he slipped on many teams draft boards and third round seems a bit high. Again, the talent is there for him to develop into a starting goalie in the league but he wasn’t expected to go in the first half of the draft. The middle round picks were solid, taking Ziemer, a skilled D out of Holy Family in Minnesota, a size/compete combo player in Cam Knuble out of Fox Motor U16 and power forward Justin Engelkes from Team Wisconsin. They added value in the late rounds with Brown commit Tony Andreozzi and emerging talent Mathias Laferriere out of Lac St. Louis, who our scouts simply referred to as “dominant” at the Telus Cup.
The Bucs drafted 4 forwards, 4 defensemen and 1 goalie. There players came from Tier 1 Midgets (5), Eastern Canada, NE Prep, USHS and Minnesota HS.
Pictured above: Gavin Hain #1 Overall Selection by Sioux Falls Stampede.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/ Hickling Images