As a continuation of our USHL Phase 1 Draft Coverage. Neutral Zone scouts give an inside look at each teams selections, where they came from and what their game is like. Star ratings and ranking information is for subscribers only, but we give commentary on each player and our scouts give their take on the draft.
Tri City Storm (11 picks) 402 Points
8 Americans, 2 Canadians, 1 Denmark
- Michael Koster (#2 overall) Chaska HS – D – University of Minnesota
- Liam Connors (#31 overall) St. Sebastian’s – F – Boston University
- Jayden Struble (#34 overall) Nobles & Greenough – D – Boston College
- Kabore Dunn (#59 overall) Shawnigan Lake School – D
- Joey Moffatt (#66 overall) Central Plains Capitals – F
- Dalton Duhart (#67 overall) Belle Tire U16 – F
- Cole McWard (#80 overall) St. Louis Jr. Blues U16 – D
- Nik Norman (#94 overall) Shattuck St. Mary’s U16 – F – University of Minneosta
- Joe Sharib (#98 overall) Cushing Academy – G
- TJ Koufis (#130 overall) Chicago Mission U16 – F – University of Wisconsin
- Alberto Pison Staermose (#146 overall) Newbridge Academy U18 – F
The Storm began their draft taking Michael Koster with the number two overall pick; an NTDP Camp Invitee and Minnesota High School standout offensive defenseman. The Minnesota commit didn’t have his best showing at the NTDP Camp, which we thought could lead to a fall in his draft stock, but that obviously wasn’t the case. A quick, agile, nifty, puck moving defenseman is coming off an impressive season where he led a talented Chaska HS team in points from the blue line. His size may limit him from making an immediate impact on the team, but he’s got a nice long term value as a power play defender in the league. The Storm were able to scoop up another undersized, witty playmaker in Boston University commit Liam Connors in the second round. Connors is sneaky good; he’s slippery, has slick hands, and shows high end hockey IQ. A smaller forward out of St. Sebastians School in Boston, MA, he finds open ice, puts pucks on his linemates sticks in key areas and makes everyone around him better. Three picks later they were able to secure another New England Prep standout in Jayden Struble out of Nobles & Greenough. Struble is a pure, athletic, two-way defenseman who likes to jump up and join the rush and can beat opposing defenders with his feet, his tenacity and his puck handling. He also possesses a powerful shot form the point which was displayed often on the Nobles power play. Some of our scouts felt Struble should have garnered more attention for NTDP Camp. In the fourth-round Tri City rolled the dice on WHL Draft pick Kabore Dunn out of Shawnigan Lake (CSSHL) outside of Vancouver. Dunn is a talented, two-way defenseman with smooth skating ability and soft hands. He can make forecheckers miss and excels on the power play where he can set up his linemates with precision passes all over the offensive zone. He was drafted in the fourth round by Kootenay (WHL) so he won’t be an easy one to get, but his talent level is worth the risk. They were not done in Western Canada as their next pick was Manitoba right winger Joey Moffatt out of Central Plains Capitals. Moffatt is a stalky playmaker who is strong on the puck and led the Capitals in scoring this past season as a late ’01. We have not seen him live so we reserve judgement, but he was a tenth round WHL pick last spring to Saskatoon. The CHL draft picks did not stop there as they took another top round pick, this time out of the OHL in Dalton Duhart. Duhart is coming off a highly-touted season with Belle Tire U16 where he was clearly the team’s top player. He’s a fluid skater with high level athleticism, a smooth release and effortless puck handling ability. He closed the year with a strong performance at the OHL Cup where he caught the eye of the London Knights (OHL) who took him in the third round of the Draft. Their next pick was underrated prospect Cole McWard, a smart, swift passing defender out of St. Louis Jr. Blues U16 who was a bit in Christian Berger’s shadow this season. He’s not as flashy as he was in his bantam year, but he’s more rounded overall prospect who can make plays in all three zones. Their sixth rounder they took Minnesota commit Nik Norman out of Shattuck St. Mary’s U16. Norman’s “hype” has dropped since last his National Champion U14 season where he played on one of the most dominate bantam lines in the country with Silianoff and Mastrosimone. His skill set isn’t as eye catching as some of his teammates but he’s a calculated player with excellent poise and vision, he plays a complete, two-way game and has the skill and creativity to find open ice and make the players around him better. A real steal in the sixth round of the draft as a year ago he finished the season with just shy of a point per game average on one of the countries top teams. Tri City went with a goalie in the seventh round in Cushing Academy netminder Joe Sharib. This pick is tough to evaluate as Sharib played a backup role most of the season to Joey Halstrom, but in limited action he posted a .913 SV% and showed his size, athleticism and composure between the pipes. He moves well side to side and in and out of the crease and doesn’t over compensate his positioning. Without a pick in the eighth round the Storm were able to get one of the only committed players left on the board in TJ Koufis out of Chicago Mission U16 in the ninth round. Koufis is like Norman in the sense that they are both coming off strong bantam seasons and just aren’t as noticeable as their teammates. However, that doesn’t make them any less productive. Koufis is strong, plays an honest two-way game, wins battles below the dots and takes the puck from the wall to the net. His stride and agility are a work in progress but he’s more junior ready than most players drafted ahead of him. Their last pick was Alberto Pison Staermose out of Denmark who played in the ECEL U18 league with Newbridge Academy U18. Alberto is a savvy diamond in the rough prospect as he was hidden in an under scouted league and was typically the youngest player on the ice most games. He’s got speed, he’s got grit and should develop into a solid junior player at the next level.
The word to describe Tri City’s draft is “value.” They were able to acquire three of the best two-way defenders in the draft in Koster, Dunn and Struble. They were also able to walk away with late round steals like Nik Norman and TJ Koufis. They did take on some CHL risk by drafting third round OHL pick Dalton Duhart, fourth round WHL pick Kabore Dunn and tenth round WHL pick Joey Moffatt.
The Storm drafted 8 Americans, 2 Canadians and 1 European (Denmark). They chose players from a variety of leagues including Tier 1 U16 (4), NE Prep (3), Minnesota HS (1), MMHL (1), CSSHL (1) and ECEL U18 (1). Their focus in the first six rounds of the draft was on talented, skilled two-way defenders and smart, creative forwards. In the later rounds, they shifted to more complete style, 200 foot forwards and a high upside goaltender.