Neutral Zone covered each division of the NHL Youth Cup in Marlboro, MA on January 26-28. This report is on the U16 (2001 and 2002 birth years) Division and contains 90 players that we thought stood out when we watched. Fourteen are brand new additions to our profiles.
Detroit Little Caesars won the title here over the Colorado Thunderbirds in the final. The U16 Division featured several top 2001 and 2002 players and two NZ five-star rated in the 2002 age group. We had limited viewings of a couple teams as the games went on at the same times.
Grades are for this event only and players did well to make this report. We posted a report on the U15 and will report on the U18 Division soon. Click on a player’s name for his profile and any stats, additional reports and star ratings.
Patrick Guzzo #71 (F, L, Little Caesars, late 2001)-Guzzo has a lot of tools. He is big, played fast and always is attacking the cage with possession. His speed forced defenseman to back off him on the rush where he would either cut to the space created and pass or shoot. He also showed he could dip and get to the net at will. His first step at 6’2” is excellent and it allowed him to separate and jump on loose pucks. He can shoot with a wrist, slap or snap shot with authority and accuracy. Showed off a one-timer and touch around the cage. Patrick has strength, reach and size that allowed him to win virtually every wall battle and create below the dots. Worked back to his net and was dominant all weekend. He has a high ceiling and has improved since last season. Must keep getting stronger as he moves to junior and college hockey. Upside at the highest level. College: Michigan
Antonio Stranges #40 (F, L, Little Caesars, 2002)-Stranges is as talented a 2002 as there is anywhere in hockey. Take a look at our Neutral Zone twitter or Instagram account to see his goal in a shootout win and that should summarize his skills with the puck. He can do whatever he wants with the puck. He had only one bad touch that we saw all weekend (breakaway chance against Carolina) and his vision is elite. His passing and his ability to put his teammates in grade A scoring spots was unmatched. His ability to use his backhand both to shoot and pass was superb. One a 4-3 power play, he was at the point and received a slightly off target pass on his backhand. He had the poise to wait and he drew a defender to him. Antonio backhanded a pass over the head of that player to his teammate on the opposite dot, on the tape. Not over the stick but over his opponent’s head. Beyond his vision and passing, he also can break down defenders any way he wants. Pulled a puck between the stick and body and excellent Dallas defender. Found it, never broke stride and scored on the breakaway. He can shoot and has terrific instincts reacting to loose pucks/rebounds. His stride is smooth and he can swivel and ride his edges with speed. He does prefer to stay on the perimeter at this level and will have to drive the net without the puck as he moves up. Will also have to work harder back to his end as well. He was supportive of his teammates and the 2002 was the best player here. Should have all the options available to him next season and is an elite talent with as much upside as any player in the country. NTDP/OHL candidate. College: Michigan
Ty Smilanic #96 (F, L, CO Thunderbirds, 2002)-Smilinac has a lot of tools and a very high ceiling. His vision is elite and he wheels to create passing lanes. He draws lots of attention and dishes. He is extremely confident with the puck on his stick and knows how to play with pace or with patience depending on the situation. He has a long frame at 6’1” and plenty of room to add weight and strength. His skating stride is productive and it will allow him to add even more speed and balance as he gets older (he is fast and strong on his skates now.) He is strong on the puck and slick when he has to be. We really liked how he moved to good spots to shoot. Ty can catch and shoot, gather bad passes and shoot or one-time the puck home. He can score. Drove and dipped to the net on the rush as he is too much to handle for most D at this level. Showed smarts as on a 3v3 in OT, he had the skill and sense to keep control of the puck while his team changed and hand the puck off before he went off. One small negative was at times he went to his backhand too much which will cause him issues in the neutral zone as players get quicker in juniors. However, he is an elite talent with a pro body and skill-set. One of our top rated 2002 prospects and is a high-level NTDP/WHL prospect. College: Denver
Sam Antenucci #91 (F, L, Little Caesars, 2001)-Our first notes here were to be impressed with his clever puck play. On one rush, he flipped a puck quickly over a stick in the neutral zone, corralled it and headed up ice where he snapped a hard shot on goal. He showed consistently that he could create with pace. Sam has a knack for putting the puck in defensemen’s blind spot at their feet and weaving his way by. Showed to be slippery on the cycle. Was willing to take hits to make plays and get to tough areas. We noticed him more early on here as he seemed wear down a bit towards the end. Lots of games and a short Caesar’s bench can easily explain that. There were no negative plays and he played with lots of energy early but he must add some strength. Overall, his game is excellent and his upside is high. College: Colorado College
Laker Aldridge #41 (F, L, Little Caesars, 2001)-Laker is a bit under the radar on a team full of stars up front but he has received A/A- is our last two reports. That trend continued here as he was a consistent factor in each game and in each shift. He is not a true skill player but his stick is good enough to possess with pace and put pucks to the net. His strength is in his skating and his work ethic. He is tough to play against as he hunts pucks with speed and with smart angles. Laker played with a good net front presence while also staying mobile and tough to cover. Tough, fast and athletic with enough dangle to create, he is on an upswing and a player to watch. He stood out here.
Aidan Thompson #7 (F, L, CO Thunderbirds, 2002)-Aidan is fiery, fast and athletic. Smaller forward who won races to pucks and was aggressive all over the ice. His stickhandling is very quick and he can change direction with the pucks via a turn or stop and start. Those skills make him elusive in space and below the dots. Tough to defend. Thompson was active all weekend and willing to stick his nose in things. He has good vision but we would like to see him shoot more as it will make his game more balanced. His approach should allow him to improve consistently as he gains more size and strength. Lots of ability and a high IQ. NTDP candidate. College: Denver
AJ Hodges #20 (F, L, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-The left shot played some right wing and was able to have consistently good touches on pucks. Has a nice frame at 6’ with room for weight and strength. Protected the puck well and showed some wiggle on the cycle. Can shoot, passed the puck quickly and made all his teammates better. Played tough hockey. Made a pretty cross-crease pass for a tap in goal and use his space well on the rush. We liked that it seemed every time he lost possession, he got the puck back. Effort type with skill to make plays. Played through contact while keeping his eyes on his options. The August 2001 has a nice approach and solid upside as a three zone, all situations player.
Dominic Sandoval #37 (F, L, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Dominic is a bit more skilled than his brother but not quite as rugged. Likes to play in space and is good at creating shooting and passing lanes. He played with quick hands and pace on the rush. Clever offensive player. He was very good on the power play and showed he can snipe when given space. Sandoval is sneaky below the dots and slippery on the cycle. Unpredictable and as a result tough to contain at times. Took good angles in puck pursuit and won races to pucks. Must add strength to play with more success in the crease. Athletic player.
Frankie Ireland #19 (F, L, Junior Bruins, 2001)-Frankie continues to make his team better in all three zones. With Bodganovich out, Ireland was the Bruins most consistent player and offensive threat. Played the point some on the power play where he showed off good pace on his passing along with anticipation and vision. He is at his best, however, when he is disrupting opponents in puck pursuit, in the creases or along the wall. He is a high compete kid and very few opponents get the better of Frankie. Can shoot, drive the net and delay and create. Good combination of effort and skill for the 2001. His approach will allow him to reach his potential.
Alex Servagno #8 (L, F, Penguins Elite, 2002)-Showed off an elite first step. His glide is good so he was around the puck a lot and is able to explode in pursuit or to space with possession. His stick is quick and slick. Alex can break down defenders by pushing pace and exploiting the space created. He led a lot of clean zone entries. He is still small but we liked that he was able to dip and drive the net. He was a bit inconsistent shift to shift but he played big minutes and had the puck a lot. High level of skill and speed and possible NTDP camp invite. College: Ohio St.
Chase Yoder #8 (F, L, Dallas Stars, 2002)-The 2002 is long and athletic. His game has a certain “ease” to it as his skating is smooth, puck handling is soft and his shooting is balanced. He takes what the defense gives him and can shoot, pass or protect the puck at a high level. Chase has a nice glide and keeps himself moving each shift, As a result, he is around the puck. Moved to productive spots and although we didn’t see him score, it was mostly because he didn’t get the puck where he wanted it. He is an interesting player in that he has the ability to play the power forward or the skill forward role. Nice skill set to have as the 2002 is an NTDP candidate and has lots of upside.
Ryan Robinson #97 (F, L, Dallas Stars, late 2001)-Ryan can scoot as he is both quick and fast. Lateral movement is good and his skating allowed him to win puck races and create with possession. He seems to have quickened and strengthened his skating. We have documented his puck play in prior reports as he is really creative, consistent and strong with the puck. His release on his shot is elite and he gets good power behind it. Can fire passes accurately anywhere on the ice. His net front play was good and he found the back of the net here. His ceiling is high as his skills are multidimensional. Speed, size, balance, skill and vision for the late 2001. He seems to be on an upswing.
Alex Jefferies #8 (F, R, Islanders, late 2001)-Limited viewing of the IHC here but Alex played a poised, patient and clever game. Sees the whole ice and has a quick release on a hard shot. Good size to protect the puck and can push pace, Lots of tools with a high IQ. It looked easy for the late 2001 here. Lots of upside as his approach belies his age. Mature game. College: Merrimack
Max Klanow #9 (F, L, Little Caesars, 2001)-We liked how Max was able to change direction quickly both along the wall and in space to create time and space. He has great feet and did well starting transition. We had the phrase “slipped through” in our noted several times as he weaved well through traffic with and without the puck. The 2001 has good edges and can ride them with pace. He is small but not afraid of traffic or contact. Quick to pucks with skill to make plays. Interesting and one to watch. He was less noticeable as the event went on and must add more strength.
Jacob Cook #13 (F, L, Little Caesars, 2001)-Cook is interesting. His skating is not pretty and at first glance, he does not look like a player that would make a ton of plays. Then we watched more. He has very good size and strength at 6’2” and 197lbs. More importantly, he knows how to use his size. He established position in front of the net and used his power to win wall battles. He was very willing to do the dirty work here and seemed to get better and play with more confidence as the weekend wore on. He wanted the puck and worked hard to get to scoring spots. Played a smart game in his end and got pucks up and out. Scored a nice goal against Dallas where he gathered a puck quickly and buried a hard shot. His skating will get better and it didn’t hamper him here. Interesting player who is versatile and had a nice weekend.
Austin Schwartz # 5 (F, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Austin leads by example. When he has the puck, he gets it to the net, when he loses it, he works to get it back and when his teammates have it, he works to get to scoring areas. The 2001 has straight line speed and a quick first step. He won pucks in tough areas with effort and a strong core/skating base. Showed lateral quickness and agility with the puck. Not quite a skill player yet but he made up for it with his grit and speed. Tough to play against with a smart approach.
Lucas Sandoval #34 (F, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-We liked Lucas’ net front play. He is gritty and tough to move off the puck. He isn’t big but used his body well to protect and leverage space. Reads rebounds well and is able to gather and score. He is not overly skilled but has a strong first step to separate and used his body to maintain that separation. He was steady and around the puck a lot. Did a nice job as the F3 when appropriate and identified his player to cover back towards his net. Put pucks to the cage and on the stick of his linemates in good spots. Athletic with upside as his approach is solid.
Carson Whitman #92 (F, R, Junior Bruins, 2002)-Carson has a balanced skill set as he passes and shoots equally well. He didn’t make any particularly slick stickhandling moves when we watched but rather used his speed. Likes to stretch the ice and scored a breakaway goal where he caught a pass, separated and went in to slip it home five-hole. He is in constant motion and because of that he never seemed to have to start from a standing position. Has a bit of “pest” to his game as he annoys opponents because he is always around the puck. We didn’t get a great sense of his play in the defensive zone as he looked to be thinking more offense than defense. To round his game out, he will have to show more there to become a player that can be relied on in every situation. Lots of upside for the 2002.
Jacob Banks #6 (F, L, Junior Bruins, 2001)-Jacob looked good here. His compete level is very high and he worked all over the ice to win pucks. Scored a late goal to tie the game against Pittsburgh. Just prior to the goal, he made a pretty, cross-ice pass to facilitate a clean zone entry and start the offense. He is not overly slick with the puck but managed it well and played with pace on the rush. He is strong and worked back to his net. Three zone type with jam and energy. He did well on the PK. We would like to see him drive and dip to the net a bit more as he did force his skills on the game on some shifts. His best shifts here were dominant and he is a player trending in the right direction. He can help his team win even when he doesn’t score.
Tabor Heaslip #7 (F, L, Dallas Stars, late 2001)-He is athletic and competitive. Tabor played on his edges and with very good pace. Was around the puck in all three zones and can create offensive plays without the puck and turnovers without it. We liked his first step a lot. He used it to chase opponents on the forecheck and backcheck quickly after a change of possession. He is able to get pucks right back. The late 2001 stopped and started to keep opposing defenders off balance and force bad gaps. Can shoot and pass quickly and processed his options well. He is a bit undersized right now but that didn’t limit him as he is fearless, smart and gritty. Good showing for him when we watched here.
Dawson Bradford #17 (F, R, Dallas Stars, 2001)-Dawson is off to a nice start for Dallas and he showed off his talents here. He is very fast but more importantly, quick. He maintains his speed on his edges and through turns. As a result, he swarmed to pucks and limited opponents’ time and space. Took excellent angles to the puck. Bradford was also difficult to cover as he moved quickly and with good timing in and out of shooting areas. He is an opportunistic player who any forward would want on his line.
Cross Hanas #71 (F, L, Dallas Stars, 2002)-Cross is a really nice combination of skill and grit. He is tall but still a bit light. However, he is very willing to invite contact and go to tough spots. He showed quick hands and played with pace on the rush. Hanas has lots of upside as he plays like a bigger, stronger forward now so when his body catches up to his approach, he will be very tough to contain. He is very good right now as a 2002 and a possible NTDP candidate.
David Andreychuk #94 (F, L, NJ Devils, 2002)-When Dave gets the puck, good things happen. He is very smart and he allowed the puck to do the work, moved it to good spots and put it on the cage. He has an economical stride and his speed, quickness and balance will improve as he gets stronger. His hands are soft on his first touches and quick to avoid defenders. His shot is accurate but not hard at this point. The 2002 scored in bunches here as he got to good spots. Played a possession game below the dots and made his team better. Lots of upside as he gains strength and experience. He was one of the smartest players here and seemed to always be in the proper place on the ice. Never looked rushed as he is playing chess while most others play checkers. Tone of upside.
Marcus Joughin #97 (F, L, Islanders, 2001)-Marcus is relatively new to the New England hockey region and looked impressive in the short time we watched. He is very quick and won every race to puck we watched. Lateral movement and a quick stick allowed him to break down defenders. Kept his head up and was a threat to shoot, pass or drive the net with each possession. He is on the smaller size but seemed to have enough grit to afford him space. The Ontario native is a player to watch. He has a lot of offensive tools and can access them at top speed.
Tiernan Shoudy #19 (F, L, Little Caesars, 2002)-The 2002 held his own here. He is still small and at times looked overmatched below the dots. However, he is very smart and was able to find soft ice and move pucks to smart spots. His hands are silky/slick. Shoudy’s first touches were good and he can pick and pull pucks from traffic, the wall and around the net with ease. He can catch and shoot with accuracy and presented well for passes. We liked that he stuck his nose in things all over the ice. He can kill penalties and blocked shots. His approach will allow him to continue to improve and further round out his game. Smart player with upside. College: Michigan St.
Evan Carroll #21 (F, R, Little Caesars, 2001)-Evan was strong on the puck as he used his core to deflect contact and keep possession. He is not a great skater at this point but offensively he minimized mistakes with the puck, took direct lines in pursuit and to the net and showed real touch around the cage, scoring a couple goals. Can shoot it. He showed strong hands and his effort allowed him to win puck battles. Slashed back at appropriate times as the F3 in the O-Zone. He is a new addition to our profiles as he moved from the U15 team to the U16 team this year. Must get stronger and work on his feet. He has some upside and a consistent game that should afford him success whether he scores or not.
Alex Harlan #12 (F, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Alex got better as the tournament went on and played a tough, energetic style that made his team better. His game is a bit understated and he is a bit under the radar. The more we watched, the more we liked his game. He won a lot of 1v1 battles. Flew to pucks and did the dirty work. His skills are decent, more consistent and reliable in his touches that electric or elusive. Tough to play against and was quick and persistent in pursuit all weekend. Player to watch as the game should slow down for him. He is around the puck a lot and more scoring will follow. Prepared player with a good approach.
Pallen Brooks #13 (F, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Pallen didn’t show off a ton of offensive flair at this event. We saw him in New Hampshire in November where we noted that he moved to good shooting spots and had some touch around the cage. He did that here as well as he can catch and shoot and has a strong one-timer. Showed more diversity in his game as well as he was able to disrupt opponents with smart angles to the puck, strength and a good stick. His first step was quick and his straight-line speed was above average. Tough to play against with offensive upside. He is trending in the right direction.
Jack Whitmore #19 (F, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2002)-Played with grit and in all situations. He is strong on his skates and on the puck. Jack worked hard and finished his checks. On a T-Bird goal, he settled a bouncing puck out of the air, weaved his way to a clean zone entry which allowed his team to start their offense. Soon after, received a puck behind the net and made a quick, flat one-touch pass for a score. Showed hand-eye, vision and anticipation. He used his backhand and showed decent touch around the cage. Blocked shots on the penalty kill and played with some snarl. Well-rounded game for a 2002.
Tristan Fasig #23 (F, L, PAL Islanders, late 2001)-Fasig is balanced on his skates and can play through contact with possession. When he gets to the point of attack, whether he has the puck or not, he seemed to be the player with the most jam and thus won the most battles. Not overly skilled, he goes hard to the net and is tough to move in the cease. Took good angles in pursuit and is accountable in his end. Got around the sheet well with strength and speed.
Harrison Schreiber #62 (F, L, PAL Islanders, 2001)-Harrison showed off a slick stick here. He can break defenders down a few different ways. He has good speed and created space by pushing pace. Can delay and shoot or dish on the rush. He is also strong on his skates and can use leverage and some dangle to come off the cycle and slip through sticks to the net. He moved well to scoring spots without the puck where he showed he can catch and shoot with quickness and accuracy. The July 2001 is trending in the right direction and played with a solid combination of skill and strength.
Dominic Schimizzi #91 (F, R, Penguins Elite, 2001)-We noted the last time we watched Dominic that he played with a high motor. He did that here as well as he hunted pucks and stuck his nose in things all over the ice. He is a good enough skater to get to pucks and balanced enough to play in traffic. Made quick decisions on the rush with slick hands at top speed. Scored a goal on a quick, accurate shot and had consistently good first touches. He played his regular high energy game here along with more skill than we have noted before. Game is trending in the correct direction.
Jackson Nieuwendyk #25 (F, L, Dallas Stars, late 2002)-Jackson was one of the youngest players in the U16 Division. He doesn’t jump off the ice but he is simply smart, consistent and accountable. His skating stride is productive and his hands are smooth and soft. Touches were good and he can snap passes. He is a year away from really being a player that stands out at this level but his talent is obvious but his approach is excellent. Possible NTDP camp invite.
Logan Greene #15 (F, R, Dallas Stars, 2001)-Greene is 5’5” and 150lbs. He used every bit of his body well as he is strong on his skates and in his core. He really aggravated his opponents as he was relentless on the puck and moved quickly to disrupt. He moved well to scoring spots and was constantly around the net. He needs some time to develop but his energy, effort and attitude is a great start. He had a lot of positive check marks near his name in our notes.
Arthur Tsimerman #13 (F, L, NJ Devils, late 2002)-Arthur played with a balanced his approach. He won faceoffs, worked to get back to his end and was a factor all 200 feet. Showed good sense in his end for a younger player and was quick to defend and support the breakout. The 2002 showed some ability to weave through stick and a slippery element along the wall. Not a true skill player yet, there are some tools to build on offensively. Created some on the rush. In short, he does a lot well. The late 2002 is a player to keep an eye on as he keeps showing up in our reports at the U16 level.
Colton Forbis #14 (F, L, Carolina Hurricanes, 2001)-Forbis showed a long handle on the puck and used his long stick to change passing and shooting lanes and create. Swiveled his hips with possession to avoid contact and wheel around the zone. He has a very quick release on his shot but must add strength to improve velocity. Accountable in his end, he was consistent and productive. Showed soft hands as is first touches were good. He is athletic and active with upside. Must add weight and strength. Colton was Carolina’s best forward when we watched and there is something here. Earned a B in our recent MAC midget report as well.
Mason Burkhart #49 (F, R, Little Caesars, 2001)-Mason went to the net and played a smart, reliable game. He has good reach and protected the puck when he had possession. He worked hard in all three zones and managed the puck. He will have to improve his skating and use his body more to create turnovers but he played well overall. Player to watch and a new addition to our profiles. Another player who moved up from the U15 squad.
Brady Berlin #88 (F, L, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-We never really saw Brady get going in Marlboro. He has good size and showed flashes where his talents were evident. He has good size and strength at 6’ and 190lbs. He worked hard and showed a quick stick to weave through traffic. His game may be more understated than we anticipated and that’s OK. He did not do anything poorly or that hurt his team. He played well but did not create or stand out in our viewings. Played all 200 feet and has upside as a three zone forward.
Collin Graf #11 (F, R, Junior Bruins, late 2002)-Graf is fast, agile, athletic and tough to defend. He is unpredictable with the puck as he thinks outside the box and has the skills to back it up. Even though he was one of the smallest and one of the youngest players in the U16 Division, the late 2002 did not back down to anyone in any situation. He is more of a passer than shooter at this point but his hockey sense and inevitable addition of strength will allow him to score more as he develops. High energy and high tempo player.
Thomas Harty #8 (F, R, Junior Bruins, 2001)-Harty is strong on his skates and can play through contact with possession. Worked to get to gritty areas and can catch and shoot in soft ice. His skating in open ice is average but he is quick, agile and balanced in small spaces. Did well on the cycle and managed the puck well. Has a sand paper element to his game we like as he is tough to play against with a good enough stick to make plays.
Ryan Leonard #14 (F, L, Penguins Elite, 2001)-Leads by example with his game. He played a tough and smart style. Good on the penalty kill as he worked and took smart angles to defend. Willing to block shots and can play in all situation up and down the roster. Scored a goal on a rebound on a quick backhand bury. Went to tough areas and has a good net front presence. His game is well rounded as it is not predicated on scoring. He can help his team win in different ways.
Will Otwell #29 (F, R, Dallas Stars, 2001)-Otwell is a new addition to our profiles and a good one. The 2001 forward first caught our attention at the point on the power play. He has good size at around 6’ and looked quick and direct with the puck on his stick. Can snap the puck on the cage and used his body to protect the puck and extend possession below the dots. We will need a bit more but he did well here and has clear upside after a year on the U15 squad last season.
Mike Rocco #14 (F, L, NJ Devils, 2001)-A player on the rise according to our Atlantic scouts, Michael played D when we watched. He is tough and his compete level is very high. He showed a strong stride with good lower body strength. Used his core to knock opponents down and fight for loose pucks. Led by example. Must improve his agility and had trouble defending the rush. Considering he is a forward, we can live with that. He has integrity in his approach and that will help him as he moves up in levels. Reliable, versatile and smart.
Garrett Auriene #59 (F, R, Carolina Hurricanes, 2001)-We thought Auriene was the most skilled forward for Carolina. He is quick and fast and showed he could separate from scrums and find room to make plays. Good release on his shot as it was quick and balanced. He was good on the power play as he has able to handle the puck with quick stickhandling while keeping his eyes on his options. Showed he could drive on his edges and get to the net off the edge on the line rush. He is undersized and must add strength but he has some nice tools to build on. Must find more consistency shift to shift. New addition to Neutral Zone and an interesting one.
Thomas Scannell #89 (F, R, Virtua, 2001)-Limited viewing of Virtua but Thomas stood out. He showed real speed along with some wiggle on the rush. His effort in puck pursuit is excellent. Undersized but balanced and used his strong core to win pucks on the wall. Athletic, quick, fast with upside. Player to watch. Seems to be on an upswing.
Nicky Niemo #2 (F, R, Islanders, 2001)-In limited viewing, Nicky showed a slick stick and great vision. He is small but able to wheel with his head up both on the line rush and in zone. Worked hard and dished some backhand sauce. We will need more but he showed well when we watched. Was around the puck a lot.
Ryan Bottrill #74 (F, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2002)-Ryan scored a goal and can drag and shoot and also use his reach to create better shooting and passing lanes. He lacks great straight-line speed right now but his compete and strength make up for that. He is tough to knock off the puck and he worked hard along the wall. Good IQ. The last time we saw the 2002 was at nationals in his home state of Arizona. He looked bigger and stronger here and his stride looks to be lengthening. All good signs as he seems to be improving. Must still add strength and add quickness but he has upside as a power forward who can play a heavy, steady game.
Cameron Lowe #13 (F, R, Junior Bruins, 2002)-Cameron is a new addition to our profiles. Played with pace and good lateral movement. Used agility and a quick stick to create space. He showed good hockey sense and got to smart spots without the puck. The 2002 is still small and must get stronger. He needs some time but did well against older competition here. Interesting player with nice upside.
Jackson Krock #11 (F, L, Penguins Elite, 2001)-Jackson is a new addition to our profiles. We were surprised to see Jackson listed as 5’7” and 135lbs as we though he played bigger than that. He was not dominant physically but stuck his nose in things at both ends of the ice. Took one big hit and popped right up after. Tough player with decent touches and good speed. Smart 200-foot type to watch as he matures.
Tanner Daniels #81 (F, L, Penguins Elite, late 2001)-Tanner showed touch around the net and a real ability to track and gather pucks below the dots. He is balanced on his skates and has a quick stick. The late 2001 was consistent shift to shift and can play in any situation. Played like he had a plan and has upside as a 200 foot forward.
Kevin Johnston #16 (F, R, NJ Devils, 2001)-Kevin is a smooth skater. Showed he can be strong on the puck and moved it quickly. Has vision and a good handle to make puck plays. He is interesting but we never saw his get going consistently here. Player to watch as he leads the team in scoring.
Colin Trom #19 (F, L, Carolina Hurricanes, 2001)-Trom is light on his skates as he flew around and darted in and out of coverage. Changed direction quickly to avoid defenders. Played in all situations and because he gets on opponents quickly and is tough to catch, he is a factor. Showed well when we watched but must add weight. That will happen for the August 2001 and will allow him to be more successful in traffic. Effort player with a smart approach.
Jack Wrightsel #63 (F, R, Ohio Blue Jackets, 2001)-Jack scored s nice goal on the rush where he moved the puck quickly to Daily, slipped to soft ice, got it back and snapped it home. Wrightsel has good sense on the ice and can play in all situations. Looked good on the penalty kill where he worked very hard. Committed player who was a factor in all three zones. Strong core to play with bodies on him. Average skill but a good approach.
Jake Marini #9 (F, L, Islanders, late 2001)-Jake has good size, reach and strength. Finished checks and was tough to handle below the dots. Got off checks first and showed a smart/consistent net front presence. Skating is a bit raw but that will come as he looked athletic. Good approach and upside as a power forward.
Luke Judge #97 (F, R, PAL Islanders, late 2001)-Judge is tough to contain blow the dots. Cycle game is productive as he competes to keep possession. Not big or very fast, he still manages to be around the puck. Scored on a rebound and can play in all situations.
Tommy Kleinman #18 (F, L, NJ Devils, 2001)-His game is understated. Showed flashes of skill and speed. More of a game manager on the wing at this point. Did not make many mistakes as he worked hard and played in all situations. Versatile game. Must work to get stronger and get more pucks to the net for the next level.
Sander Willard #19 (F, Nashville Jr. Predators, 2001)-Sander is from Minnesota, played last year with the CO Evolution U15 and U16 and now is with Nashville. He was the one player that stood out for his team. Good size at 6’ and 190lbs, he showed some good straight-line speed and an ability to handle the puck on the rush. Did enough to get noticed and is a new addition to our profiles.
Pete Giambattista #88 (F, L, Carolina Hurricanes, late 2001)-Giambattista worked hard in traffic and is strong enough to dispossess opponents. He has good size at 6’ and room to add some weight. His skating stride is strong but a bit stiff. Must lengthen and smooth his form out to continue to add speed as he matures. More speed will allow him to more consistently play with more pace in space. He has some grit and is a tough player. One to watch as he was around the puck in zone.
Ryan Henry #23 (F, L, Carolina Hurricanes, 2001)-Ryan added energy and enthusiasm on his shift here in Marlboro. He is balanced and quick on his skates. Must add weight to add more jam to his game. However, he has a solid approach and a good sense of where to go on the ice. New addition to our profiles.
Jesper Modin #33 (F, R, Ohio Blue Jackets, late 2001)-Jesper has good size at 6’1” and 165lbs. He played with some pace and we noted he had vision while at top speed. He is a bit raw and a new addition to our profiles. Late 2001 did just enough to get noticed.
Callen Daily #11 (F, L, Ohio Blue Jackets, 2001)-Callen made a nice pass to Wrightsel for a goal. Daily has good sense of where he is on the ice and where to go to avoid contact. He is very small and probably a year away from being able to really show his stuff but he did some decent things here. Good speed and a sharp first step. Player to watch as he grows and new to neutral Zone.
Ethan Szmagaj #16 (D, R, Little Caesars, late 2001)-Ethan is a very good skater. He is fast, quick, agile and balanced on his skates. He liked to have the puck on his blade and showed he could control pace of play. Jumped in at appropriate times from the offensive blue and caused real problems for opponents as they had to account for his almost like a fourth forward. Defended with a quick stick and smart gaps which allowed him to start transition quickly. He is very athletic and had obvious upside. Followed a line rush up ice and scored a goal on a rebound, Has speed to take chances. Can do whatever he wants at this level did what his team needed to win in any situation. College: Michigan
Evan Orr #12 (D, L, Little Caesars, 2001)-Evan is excellent in his ability to avoid the forecheck. He can skate, move laterally with possession or pass his way out of his end. He is athletic and smart. Surrounded the puck and let it do the work and skated to pressure to free up space for his forwards. Did well adding a second wave on offensive rushes. He scored two goals in the final. One, he snapped home on the rush and the other was the OT winner on a one-time bullet to give his team the title in Marlborough. Lots of upside as a true three zone defender. Played his best against the better competition and looked to be able to handle big minutes. College: Michigan Tech
Nicklas Andrews #5 (D, L, Little Caesars, 2001)-He played a poised, mature game. Balanced approach. He does not force anything, stayed on the correct side of the puck and took passing and shooting lanes away with a quick stick and positioning. Made accurate outlets, took his ice and showed a balanced, productive stride. In the offensive zone, he shot the puck quickly and strongly. Scored on a one-timer. Moved laterally along the offensive blue and showed vision and shot to screens and tips. Athletic feet with tight gaps in the middle zone. Showed some skill and scored a nice goal in a shootout win (see Neutral Zone Instragram.) He can do a lot of different things and play in any situation. Can work on strength and quickness to continue to round his game out. College: Colorado College
Spence Evans #5 (D, L, PAL Islanders, 2002)-Spence is 6’4” and 195lbs and can skate, carry, pass and handle the puck at a high level. First step and straight-line speed are both quick. He exploded to defend in the corner and limits time and space at a high level. Good defensive stick with a long reach. Tough to play against as a result. Played with snarl without crossing the line. Evans can carry or pas the puck from his end and he moved off the wall with possession. Kept all his options open moving up the ice. Showed he can shoot and score including in the shootout. High level of confidence and poise for a 2002. Contributed in all important situations. He has a lot of tools and a high ceiling.
Aidan Lawson #4 (D, L, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Big, long and raw are ways to describe his game. Lawson is 6’4” and strong with a frame to add more strength and weight. He is deceptively fast as his strides are long. He can defend and recover with his feet. He is balanced on his skates, showed good weight transfer when shooting and can skate through contact. Scored a goal where he gathered a puck on his backhand, quickly transferred to his forehand and fired it top corner. He will have to quicken his game up a bit going back for pucks and be more physical shift to shift but he is athletic and has a high ceiling. Has played two WHL games.
John Driscoll #8 (D, L, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-We liked that at 6’3”, Driscoll showed good four-way mobility. Stayed mostly square, his long stick well and was physical to defend. Gaps were decent but could be tighter on regroups. His pivots were good and he showed he could dispossess opponents and quickly move the puck. John was a bit inconsistent going back for pucks as he went straight at the puck and had some issues picking it quickly off the wall. Has a heavy shot and can zip passes anywhere on the ice. He sees the second level up ice on the breakout and used the wall at appropriate times. The August 2001 has as much upside as anyone here. Pro style game that will translate at the next levels.
Ridge Hubbard #85 (D, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Ridge was consistent. Did a little bit of everything in Marlborough. Snapped a nice shot through traffic for a score. He handled the puck well and made passes with proper pace. His vision is good as he played with his head up and can see the whole ice. Whipped a couple cross-ice passes on the tape. He is smart and has a balanced game for a 2001. Can close quickly to defend and skate from pressure with possession. Never really saw him shoot here but he can move the puck. Must become a bit more physical in his end to round his game out some but he is an interesting player in his second season at the U16 level. Upside as a puck mover who can manage the game from the back end.
Nick Perna #4 (D, L, Dallas Stars, 2001)-Nick oozes upside. He is 6’1” and 175lbs with plenty of room to grow and add weight/strength. Long reach which he used well to defend here. Played power play and moved the puck with hard, accurate passes. He gets the puck to spots in a hurry whether he passes or shoots. What we liked most was his skating stride. He is balanced and moved well in all four directions but his stride in open ice is productive, smooth and strong. As he gets stronger, he will simply get faster and more balanced on his skates. He has some grit but would like to see him play an even more physical style. He has a high ceiling as he is athletic and still quite raw.
Tyler Behl #10 (D, L, Ohio Blue Jackets, 2002)-We thought Tyler was Ohio’s best player. The 2002 played an active, athletic game on the blue line. He went back well for pucks and can pass or carry from his end. He ran the power play where he showed good intent and pace on passes, excellent lateral movement and a hard, one-time shot. The thing that showed up in our notes most about Tyler most is his feet. They are excellent. He can move quickly in every direction. His pivots are smooth and he has speed to take chances up ice and recover. New player to Neutral Zone and a good one. He is still small but that seldom limited him. He has lots of upside.
Jonathan Ziskie #95 (D, L, Little Caesars, 2001)-Ziskie played a heavy, defensive style. He allowed his skilled forwards to make plays and took care of his end. Won wall battles, stayed square to defend and played smart positional hockey. He has a heavy shot and can one time it. Feet are OK but he will need more quickness. He was consistent and a bit understated as he quietly added an element of stability and physicality to his team.
Cameron Newton #4 (D, R, Little Caesars, 2001)-He is big and steady. Cam stayed behind the puck and took the man. Tough to play against in his crease. Simple, smart approach allowed Newton to play against opponent’s skilled players. He does not make many mistakes and worked hard to play defense. May be some offensive upside as he gets pucks to the net but we didn’t see that a lot here. Under the radar a bit and a player to watch as he moved from Victory Honda to Little Caesars this offseason.
Matt Foster #81 (D, R, PAL Islanders, 2001)-Foster has height at 6’2” and is very strong at 220 lbs. Stayed square to defend and behind the puck. Does his job well. Takes care of his end and has enough offensive game to help move pucks out and play on the power play. Never saw him shoot but he moved well laterally with his long stick to create shooting lanes. Interesting player as he has some diversity and is not simply a “stay at home” and “glass and out” type.
Tim Kippenberger #7 (D, R, Junior Bruins, 2001)-Athletic player who did a good job defending his end, controlling his gaps and clogging up passing and shooting lanes. Good size and reach, Tim also can whip passes on the tape anywhere on the ice. He has a very good shot and can create shooting lanes along the offensive blue line. His skating is good enough to allow him to join the rush, take chances up ice and still recover back. He did take a high stick call late in a 4-2 game and had some minor issues with his poise once in the box. Solid player who overall is steady, smart and can play in every special teams/important situation.
Jordan Rosenbaum #77 (D, R, Penguins Elite, 2001)-Jordan is steady and reliable back on the point. He is not a speed player but is able to avoid the forecheck with smart, short passes or lateral moves to create time. He played with a good stick and kept his gaps tight. Understands situations and kept it simple in all three zones. Good size and strength allowed him to win pucks along the wall and clean the front of his net. Willing to take hits and can play through contact. Didn’t show as a pure puck mover when we watched but he has a bit of that element to his game. Well-rounded, poised player.
Ian Ferguson #6 (D, L, Dallas Stars, 2002)-Ian is polished and poised 2002. He has four-way mobility and showed he can close off time and space and start transition quickly from his end. His play with the puck is good as he did a nice job on the power play as well as retrievals from his end. Picked pucks off the wall and kept his eyes up through contact. He is a player to watch as he looked poised to take another step as nationals near.
Brendan Karnish #14 (D, L, Virtua, 2001)-Another Virtua player we noted in limited viewing. He has good reach at 6’2” and who showed he can skate or pass the puck from his end. Played in all situations well and we liked how he moved his feet to defend and prepare for passes. Got off the wall with the puck and kept his eyes up ice. Our Atlantic guys describe him as a defensive type D-man and we saw that here. We also saw that he has some offensive tools and upside in all aspects of his game. Interesting and still a bit raw.
Travis Shoudy #2 (D, L, Little Caesars, 2002)-Shoudy didn’t do anything great nor anything bad. He worked, showed a good stick and kept his gaps mostly tight. The 2002 went well back to front to start transition. He has some tools and is most likely a puck mover at the next level. He is probably a year away from making an impact consistently at the U16 level. He is fine now but must gain more confidence and experience. He should get there and has some nice skills to build on.
Nate Thelan #24 (D, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Nate played Minnesota high school hockey the last two seasons. Showed good straight-line speed and mobility skating backwards when defending. He is strong and showed he would take care of his end and his crease first. Let the puck do the work and made smart outlets. Tough defender who can play in all situations.
Jerome Oliver #82 (D, L, Penguins Elite, 2001)-Jerome played at Butler HS last season and is a new addition to our profiles. Decent height at 5’9” but real strength in his lower half. Played with a strong stride and moved quickly laterally to defend and create passing lanes. He is a smart player and showed good defensive instincts. One example came in overtime when he faced a 2v1. He recognized the player with the puck had it roll up on him. Jerome immediately closed laterally and broke the play up before his opponent could react. Interesting player with upside.
Hunter Katz #14 (D, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Hunter is a new addition to Neutral Zone. Played a defensive style. Pinched off the rush well and was quick to defend below the dots. He has good reach and a smart stick to deflect passes and shoots. Clogged up lanes. He has to get his feet under him some when he strides out and we didn’t get a great sense of his puck play here. He played a solid, smart style and did enough to make this report.
Nick Serio #14 (D, R, PAL Islanders, 2001)-We noticed Serio when he had the puck. He can carry and weave/skate his way to space with possession. He looks to be filling out his frame and as a result more explosive on his skates. He drew attention and passed to good spots. He is interesting as he does a few different things well. Athletic, quick to defend and smart. He looked more like a puck mover than anything when we watched here but there is more to discover in his game.
Connor Carlile #10 (D, L, Dallas Stars, 2002)-Connor is steady, strong and his game was understated here. He did not jump out at us but the more we watched, the more we appreciated his play. He took care of his end, worked hard and kept his puck play simple. Not a power play type yet, he played to his strengths and managed the puck well. We liked his ability to finish checks and separate the man from the puck. Punished a few players with hits and is tough to play against. Sand paper style with a smart approach. Must become a bit more dynamic with the puck but he has upside as a solid two zone defender.
Dominic Piccaro #27 (D, R, CO Thunderbirds, 2001)-Played some games with the U18 team. He is steady, worked hard and showed flashes of speed. Took his ice with the puck. Dom is a new addition to our profiles and played a depth role for a good T-Birds team.
Simon Mandel #15 (D, R, PAL Islanders, 2001)-Simon is a new addition to our profiles. He showed good speed and used his strength to defend and win puck battles. Not a ton of skill at this point but he managed the puck well and kept his outlets simple. Can carry the puck a bit. We will need more but he did enough to get noticed.
Matt Pendenza #14 (D, R, Junior Bruins, 2002)-The July 2002 caught our eye here a few times. He has a productive stride and good edges with strength. He kept his game simple. Gaps were generally tight, he stayed square to defend and showed a smart stick to deflect pucks. We liked his angles to defend below the dots. He finished his checks and took care of his crease. He is a new addition to our profiles and we will need a bit more in regards to his play with the puck but he has a good foundation to develop and build from.
Robert (Bo) Gray #16 (D, R, Penguins Elite, 2001)-At 6’1.5” and 190lbs, Bo looked big and played big. Has an edge to his game we liked and defends his end with a decent stick and physicality. Made several big hits and worked to stay behind the puck. His puck play looked average but that may come along. Tough to play against and a new addition to our profiles.
Matt Redding #53 (D, R, NJ Devils, 2001)-He is big and tough. We liked that he never stopped working and never backed down in a lopsided semi-final loss to Dallas. Got smoked on a borderline hit early in the game and took a number, waited and got his revenge. Not a ton of skill but tough to play against with room to add weight.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images