Scouting Reports

STX Minor Midget (15U) Showcase: Top 35

Posted on January 18, 2017

Neutral Zone headed to South Bend, Indiana for the STX U15 Showcase January 6-8, 2017. Games were played on the campus of Notre Dame. Below is a list of the players that stood out on the weekend. Almost all of the players below are new to our player profiles. You can click each player’s name to view his profile. As they progress over the seasons/years, profiles will be updated with any new information and evaluations.

Barak Braslavski (L, 5-6/138, Detroit HoneyBaked, ’01) – Barak proved to be extremely slick and slippery with the puck. Between his smallish size and his exceptional feet and hands, he is very evasive and nearly impossible to catch. He rarely takes direct physical contact, but doesn’t shy away from hits and will take contact to make a play. His physical skills are well utilized in tight spaces and he can stick handle out of any jam. Very confident with the puck and is not afraid to try create plays on his own, which occasionally leads to turnovers but generally he was pretty smart about not doing it in the dangerous areas. Grade: A

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Skate Laces and Life Lessons: The Martin St. Louis Way

Posted on January 15, 2017

By, Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting – Neutral Zone In the summer of 1997, Martin St. Louis tied my skates. Growing up playing hockey in Vermont, I, like many others, idolized Martin St. Louis – “the Great #8”.  Being a non-NHL market, most hockey fans in our state are more loyal to their local college…

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E.G. Watkins Cushing Tournament: Top 35

Posted on January 14, 2017

E.G. Watkins Tournament

The Watkins Tournament put a lot of higher end prep talent on display. Lawrence won the tournament in a shootout over Culver. The champions have been building for a few years now under Head Coach Rob Barker. Beyond being very skilled, they seemed to be playing as a complete unit and on the same page.  Culver displayed signs of a team that has been on the ice longer than the New England schools, as their structure proved to be on a different level.   Very good players, very good coaching, but they also showed more of the mid-season form that you don’t get from NE schools until January/February. Dexter looked strong as well, and of all the teams, Dan Donato’s squad seems to have the most upside with an incredible group of freshmen.   Gunnery, as well, boasts a young team with excellent potential. Lacking a pure point producing threat, the Highlanders will win a lot of games with depth should they overcome inconsistency. Thayer also has Elite Eight potential with their top end guys being as good as anyone else’s that we saw. Cushing, also in a bit of a rebuild after losing some guys early to the USHL, was trying to find their way during the tournament. Canterbury is an older team that lacks skill but will work hard. They need to keep games close in order to keep their mucky forwards engaged and believing that one shot/one goal can be the difference maker.   NMH finds itself searching for identity in the post Tom Pratt era. Under Pratt, they always had low numbers but a few high end skill kids who would play a very offensive style.   The current squad has a few skills guys on the top end, but the team, overall, needs to figure out who they want to be.

Below are players we felt stood out here. We listed them by teams in no particular order. Each player profile can be viewed by clicking on his name.

Dominic Vidoli, 11th grade, D:  Talk of the tournament and top uncommitted here. Incredibly smooth and fluid skater. Dominated in his game against Dexter with his feet leading the way. Possessed the puck and started the rush many times, but he also jumped into the rush for an odd man situation goal. Showed a quick, accurate release both off the rush (his goal) and from the blue line. Pro scouts were also showing interest in the Poti scout room. It cannot be long until he commits to a Division I program.

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USPHL Winter Showcase: Top 100

Posted on January 14, 2017

Neutral Zone went to Marlboro for the USPHL Winter Showcase January 6-8, 2017. Our focus was the Premier Division. Below are the players that we feel stood out. Grades are for this weekend only and in relation to others at this showcase. Each team played three games over three days and league rules applied.

All the players below have profiles with Neutral Zone. All reports we have that mention that player will be linked to those profiles. There are about a dozen new additions here.

Lucas Michaud #74 (F, R; 5’11”, 190lbs, IHC, 1997)-Lucas showed why he and Lemieux make up the most dangerous duo in the USPHL. We have liked Lucas’ game in the past but he seems to have taken his play to another level. He is getting better. He was very good in transition and moved well laterally to create passing and shooting lanes. Where he was most impressive was along the wall. He was slippery with the puck and protected and distributed at a very high level. We cannot think of a time all weekend where he made a poor decision or play with the puck. His puck management was excellent and his patience showed his maturity and high IQ. He finished the weekend with a goal and four assists. After a disappointing season in the USHL, he’s returned home and showing signs of major improvement. Grade: A

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Pete Frates Winter Classic: Top 16

Posted on January 11, 2017

  Neutral Zone attended the Frates Tournament in Middleton, MA on December 30th and 31st. Participating in the tournament this year were Pope Francis (#1 ranked Massachusetts High School), BC High (#2), Central Catholic (#13) and St. John’s Prep (#25). Pope Francis held on to win the tournament after beating St John’s 2-1 in the…

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USHL/NHL Prospects Game

Posted on January 10, 2017

USHL/NHL Prospects Game – Sioux Falls, SD Sioux Falls plays host to the 2017 USHL/NHL Prospects game where the top NHL Draft prospects playing in the USHL will square off. 20 players are chosen from the West Division and 20 players chosen from the East Division. The players range from 1996’s to 1999’s but most…

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Flood Marr Holiday Tournament: Top 58

Posted on January 9, 2017

Neutral Zone attended the Flood Marr tournament on December 16-18.  There were eight teams in the tournament and the play over the three days was very competitive. Deerfield edged Milton in the finals 4-3, while KUA took home third place after beating Westminster. Included are the records of each of the teams during the weekend: (Deerfield (3-1), Milton (2-1-1), KUA (3-1), Westminster (1-2-1), Andover (2-2), Nobles (1-3), Salisbury (2-2) and Hotchkiss (1-3)). Below is a listing of the top forwards and defensemen on the weekend.

Jordan Harris (KUA, 5-10/170, ‘00) Smart, poised defensemen who plays in all situations. Never out of position and controls the play with his strong vision and patient play. Has an active stick and closes gaps well. Does not allow forwards much time through the neutral zone. Does not hesitate to take chances on offense. Makes a strong first pass out of his zone, carries the puck well and has soft, swift hands. He can quarterback their powerplay, breaks pucks out quickly and effectively and is able to shake off forecheckers with his quick, agile feet. Grade: A

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Lawrenceville Holiday Tournament: Top 47

Posted on January 3, 2017

Neutral Zone had scouts in New Jersey for the Lawrenceville Tournament and wrote up the top 47 players (including goalies). The tournament showed great parity and while there weren’t any serious NHL draft picks here, there were still a lot of quality players.

1-Taft: Taft had only one loss on the tournament which came in a shootout with Choate. They beat NMH 4-2, Canterbury 4-0 and beat Nichols 6-3 (the game was closer than the score). Andrew Farrier the Taft goalie and captain was awarded tournament MVP in a selection process that heavily weights  final game.

2-Nichols School: A bit of a surprise. They are not one of the older teams and at times had a tough time  finishing. They beat Lawrenceville 2-1 in 2OT, they upset Belmont Hill with a 6-1 pounding and toppled UCC 5-2. Graziano was the key to their success with consistent play in the net.

3-Choate: A hard earned third place finish. They started out slow losing to an older Canterbury team 3-1 then came back to beat NMH  3-2. The big game where Kramer got the shootout winner v Taft which was the turning point. They then whitewashed UCC 2-0. The scoring is not very deep here but they have some guys that make a difference.

4-UCC: They started out with a bang then cooled off in every game after that. They beat Belmont Hill with a workmanlike 2-1 effort, then shut out Lawrenceville 3-0. After that it was downhill…5-2 loss to Nichols and then a 2-0 loss to Choate. Muise played well in goal.

5-Belmont Hill: This was a disappointing tournament for Belmont Hill. They are a talented team but a combination of bad luck, poor discipline and inconsistent play hurt them. They started out with a flat 2-1 loss to UCC,. then lost to Nichols 6-1. After that they were able to handle Lawrenceville 7-1 and Canterbury 2-0. Not that a 2-2 record is a bad thing here, but they have the talent to win this event.

6-Canterbury: A veteran team who started off the tournament with a 3-0 win against Choate and looked poised to make a run but went on to only score 1 goal over the next 3 games and lose all three to NMH, Taft and Belmont Hill.

7-NMH: NMH is better than last year but still have a way to go before they’ll be competing for championships. They were never really beaten badly here, they lost 4-2 to Taft, 3-2 to Choate and beat Canterbury 2-1 and Lville 6-2. They don’t have a ton of firepower but defenseman Kennedy and goaltender Green are quality prospects.

8-Lawrenceville: The locals,were just out gunned.  Pito Walton had a strong showing and they have a few 01’s and 02’s worth watching, but not enough veteran talent.. After they gave Nichols a real scare with the 2OT loss they were manhandled…UCC 3-0, Belmont Hill 7-1 and NMH 6-2. A long weekend for them, but at least they got the moral victory of not going pointless. We give them credit, the team gives it all they have even in lopsided games.


Christian O’Neill (L, 5-11/175, Belmont Hill #19, ’98)

When Christian was on the ice, you knew he was there. O’Neill has a high skill level and just understands the game. He has quick feet, a great shot with a nice release and sees the ice well. He was used as a point man on the power play where everything seemed to go through him. For a skilled player, he is very involved and has a great work ethic, he has a nice second effort keeping the play alive. There is solid of upside here because he can play a lot of different roles and his skill set translates well at the next level. College: Princeton  Grade: A-

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St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament: Top 65

Posted on January 2, 2017

The St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament has always been a very high paced, well played tournament and this year was no exception. The eight-team field were all competitive and played hard and fast. Joining St. Sebastian’s was, Albany Academy, Winchendon, Thayer, St. Andrew’s, Rivers, Northwood and Williston. Many scouts were in attendance ranging from D1, D3 and NHL at the Henry T. Lane Rink over the weekend.

St. Andrew’s proved to be too much for the rest of the field as they defeated Thayer to win the Championship. The following skaters are who we feel had themselves a good tournament. These grades are based on the overall performance of the skater throughout the weekend. Kudos to Providence who have commitments from 4 of the Top 7 performers in the tournament (Dugan, O’Brien, Hillis, Mulera).

Cameron Hillis (R, St. Andrew’s #10, ’00) A year ago this time of year we saw Hillis at the Toronto Marlies tournament as he led a York Simcoe Express team and was one of the top prospects for the OHL Draft. He ended up going being taken in the 2nd round but decided to go the NCAA route and committed to Providence. He’s a talented forward with excellent instincts and elusive stick skill. He’s able to go into traffic areas with the puck and stickhandle his way out of jams. He has a quick release and accurate shot and scored a beauty against Rivers on Saturday. He’s on the small side but really dynamic and has the rare ability to create offense from any situation; the rush, in zone, off broken plays, turnovers, etc. He was inconsistent here but when he’s on, he’s a lot for defenders to handle with his speed and puck skill.  College: Providence   Grade: A-

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