Team: Cedar Rapids Roughriders
Picks: 11 Total; 3 in Top 50; 7 in Top 100
Best prospects: Andrei Bakanov (#5 Ranked)
Summary: Cedar Rapids started out the draft taking arguably the most USHL ready prospect in this draft in Russian forward Andrei Bakanov who played at Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16 this season. With their 11 picks they took two Canadians, two Russians and seven Americans. They added five defenseman, five forwards and one goalie. They used their tender very well, they found value in the middle rounds and took some risks late. Their second-round pick Bennett Zmolek out of Rochester HS follows his two older brothers who were also with Cedar Rapids before going on to NCAA; he’s a player trending up after a strong high school season. There three high value picks came from NCAA committed prospects out east (and teammates) in defenders Charlie DesRoches and Austin Cook out of Selects Academy and forward Nathan Hanley out of PAL Jr. Islanders. Both DesRoches and Cook bring an offensive flare to the position; they are skilled with the puck, can run a powerplay at the next level and dynamic skaters. DesRoches has more size and polish and will be able to translate to the league quicker, but getting someone with Cook’s offensive ability and agile, quick skating in the sixth round is impressive. Hanley is an intelligent, crafty playmaking forward who makes everyone around him better and gets his teammates in positions to score. Overall, Cedar Rapids had good draft.
Team: Central Illinois Flying Aces
Best prospects: Stephen Halliday (#8 Ranked),
Picks: 10 Total; 4 in Top 50; 7 in Top 100
Summary: Central Illinois went outside the box in this draft and it really paid off for them picking up tremendous value in the Canadian market. They spent their first overall pick on Stephen Halliday, one of the top OHL Draft prospects in Ontario after a strong season with the Toronto Marlies. A forward with the size, skating and athleticism to make a transition to the USHL next year. They took the best prospect in Ottawa with the next pick in Joshua Barnes, a second round OHL pick who has experience against bigger, stronger, older competition in the Midget U18 league in Ottawa with burst and a scorer’s instincts. Jason Siedem was a smart pick at #33 overall, a highly skilled and intelligent playmaker out of the prep ranks. Three of the next five picks were Canadians; all of which they got for far lower than their value. Patrick Guay is one of the top prospect in Quebec and a sure-fire first round QMJHL with his dynamic stick skills, creativity and offensive production against older competition with Magog. In the fifth round they took the mobile, two-way defenseman Max Bronstine out of Mississauga Rebels. In the eighth round they selected our #31 ranked Kent Johnson, the leading scorer at Burnaby Winter Club Prep this season. He’s not the biggest guy but he’s got excellent skill and hockey sense and will get junior hockey experience this season with Trail Smoke Eaters in the BCHL. For their American picks they took all ranked players in Jackson Nieuwendyk, a smart player who is getting better and better as he grows into his frame and Joseph Teasdale, a high compete, balanced forward out of Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16. Their final two picks were two Tier 1 Elite U16 standouts with good size and a translatable game to the junior level in Noah Marino of Chicago Fury and Kobe Pane of Anaheim Jr. Ducks. It will not be easy for Central Illinois to compete against CHL clubs for these prospects, but they took smart risks and added a lot of value.
Team: Chicago Steel
Best prospect: Owen Power (#2 Ranked),
Picks: 12 Total; 5 in Top 50; 10 in Top 100
Summary: The Steel had 12 picks in the draft and occupied 10% of the Top 100 picks which left them in a great position. They went after the #2 ranked prospect in the draft in Owen Power, a pro style 6’5” Michigan committed defender out of Mississauga Reps. He has the size, athleticism and versatile skill set to play in the league next season if needed. They didn’t stop there; they tapped into the GTHL market again for arguably the smartest player in the draft in fellow Michigan commit Cole Perfetti out of Vaughn Kings. In the second round they selected an elite pace and playmaker in Cole Shepard who is signed with Penticton next season and expected to attend Harvard University. Their last Canadian pick was NTDP Evaluation camp invite and Toronto Jr. Canadians standout Dylan Robinson, a skilled power forward who can finish but carries high OHL risk so it was a smart risk/reward play in the ninth round. With their American picks they selected 4 NCAA D1 commits in nifty, skill forward Joe Miller out of Blake HS, slick handed Matt Coronato out of Long Island Gulls U16, a high compete, all-around forward in Sasha Teleguine and mobile, two-way, puck moving defender Jason Marsella out of NJ Avalanche U16. Among their uncommitted prospects they added some nice prospects in Tim Lovell, a small but elite skating defender out of Boston Advantage, NTDP Evaluation camp invite and Shattuck U16 standout Matthew Samoskevich, sneaky, slippery forward in Josh Doan (son of NHLer Shane Doan) and speedy, hard working David Ma out of Shattuck St. Mary’s. This was a solid draft; they took some chances taking high skill up north and they complimented it well with US NCAA commits and great value picks late in the draft. The Steel staff lost their GM late in the scouting season so this was an impressive performance by the scouting staff and new GM to take over last minute and put together this draft.
Team: Des Moines Bucaneers
Best prospect: Patrick Schmiedlin (#10 Ranked)
Picks: 8 Total; 4 in Top 50; 6 in Top 100
Summary: Des Moines new GM Tommy Mannino was only a week or so on the job before this draft, but the former top scout at London Knights had a very strong draft for only having 8 picks. He immediately used up his two tender picks in taking arguably the fastest skater in the draft in Culver standout Patrick Schmiedlin who played all season at the prep level against bigger, strong competition and complete and highly skilled Isaak Novak who played U18 Little Caesars as a 15 year-old. They went north for their next three picks in Notre Dame Hounds standout and NTDP Evaluation Camp invite Avery Winslow, an honest, balanced, multi-purpose, mature defenseman along with Providence commit Nicholas Savoie, a talented, puck moving, power play defenseman with soft hands, heavy shot and agile footwork for his frame. The last of the Canadian trio is Stanley Cooley, a Northeastern commit out of Notre Dame Hounds in Saskatchewan who plays a hardworking, tenacious, physical game. With their final three picks, they selected Joseph Pierce a Hermantown Bantam AA prospect who is tough to play against and strong on his skates and Massachusetts High School emerging star Owen Fowler, a balanced, direct, mature player with lots of upside. However, the real steal in the draft was acquiring BU commit Joshua Lawrence in the eighth round; one of the most dynamic prospects in the entire draft. While there are concerns if he’ll report and how long he’ll be in the league before heading to BU, this is a tremendous value pick even if they only get one season out of him. Overall Mannino and company were calculated in this draft and took smart risks north of the border and grabbed impact players in the US.
Team: Dubuque Fighting Saints
Best prospect: Michael Benning
Best Value: Hunter Longhi (#67 Ranked, #152 Overall)
Picks: 7 Total; 2 in Top 50; 4 in Top 100
Summary: Dubuque received a B- but not because it was a bad draft but they only had 7 picks and no first rounders. Their first pick was #24 overall where they were able to acquire a high end defenseman out of Western Canada who is a pure skating, athletic, puck possession defenseman who can make plays in all three zones. In the third round they made a very savvy pick with Denver commit Carter Savoie, a cerebral forward with great vision, poise and passing ability. He is also the older brother to ’04 phenom Matthew Savoie. The rest of the draft was heavily focused on the Midwest where they took four defenseman, 3 of which from Minnesota in quick, two-way defender Owen Baumgartner of Shattuck, smart, athletic defender Wyatt Kaiser of Andover HS and strong skating, firm passing Luke Gramer of Moorhead HS. Their other two picks were NCAA commits in skilled polished skating, puck mover Mitchell Smith out of Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16 and likely their biggest steal of their draft in Harvard commit and high hockey IQ, sharp shooter Hunter Longhi out of St. Louis Jr. Blues U16. Overall, they did a nice job with their limited opportunities.
Team: Fargo Force
Best prospect: Jack Bar (#22 Ranked)
Picks: 7 Total; 1 in Top 50; 3 in Top 100
Summary: Fargo is the hardest team to grade because there isn’t a team that got more value out of their draft then but they only had seven picks and only one pick in the top 50. They had to be aggressive and take chances so that is what they did. Their first six picks were all Canadian saving their last pick for Blake HS standout Tristan Broz. While there is risk in taking coveted CHL picks; three of the six Canadian prospects are NCAA committed including their first two selections in skilled defenders Jack Bar and Ryan Helliwell. Bar has size and athleticism, moves well for his frame and has a high upside. Helliwell also has high upside but he’s more skilled with the puck and a more smooth and agile skater. They went to the GTHL for their next three picks in shifty playmaker Frank Carogioiello; gritty, complete 200 ft forward Ryan Alexander and tall, athletic, physical defenseman Nathan Ribau. There next pick pick was Ty Thrope out of Rink Hockey Academy who has good size, plays a hard, honest game and has an effortless stride. Their last pick was Tristan Broz who is really trending up this season making an immediate impact at the high school level. They will have their hands full keeping their top picks on the NCAA/USHL path, but the risk is worth the reward as Fargo used their limited picks to their maximum potential.
Team: Green Bay Gamblers
Best prospect: Jackson Kunz (#12 Ranked)
Best Value: Casey Roepke (#14 Ranked / #41 Overall), Johnny Waldron (#37 Ranked / #57 Overall), Jake Ratzlaff (#23 Ranked / #86 Overall), Alex Servago (#38 Ranked / #89 Overall), Jarod Crespo (#58 Ranked / #105 Overall)
Picks: 10 Total; 3 in Top 50; 6 in Top 100
Summary: Green Bay was able to acquire five players in our top 50 rankings including two players in the top 20 in big bodied, skilled power forward Jackson Kunz (#12 Ranked) and long, athletic, multi-dimensional defender Casey Roepke (#14 Ranked). After a strong start they were able add great value in the middle rounds where they acquired good-sized sniper Johnny Waldron out of Chicago Fury and tall, athletic, smooth skating, versatile defender Jake Ratzlaff out of Rosemount HS and quick, shifty, elusive playmaker Alex Servagno. There next pick was underrated Jarod Crespo, a mobile, two-way defender with strong edges and a clever stick. With their final three picks they took raw, high upside prospect out of Salisbury Matthew DeBoer, younger brother of NTDP forward Jack DeBoer and son of NHL Head Coach Peter DeBoer. They closed out the draft in the state of Michigan taking savvy, playmaker Tanner Dickinson and under the radar Michigan HS prospect Tanner Rowe. After losing their #2 overall pick last year to the OHL, Green Bay elected to take all their picks from the US this season and were able to acquire a good chunk of the top 50 US prospects while rival teams took their chances in Ontario and Western Canada. A very good draft for Green Bay which sets them up well for years to come.
Team: Lincoln Stars
Best prospect: Brandon Chabrier (#24 Ranked)
Best Value: Aidan Thompson (#27 Ranked / #27 Overall)
Picks: 10 Total; 3 in Top 50; 7 in Top 100
Summary: Lincoln had an interesting draft; they started out taking two highly touted prospects in Brandon Chabrier and Aidan Thompson; Chabrier a gifted offensive defenseman with soft hands and dynamic playmaking ability from the back end and speedy, creative, high pace prospect Aidan Thompson out of Colorado. After that, Lincoln went outside of the conventional thinking and selected six of the next nine picks out of the U15 level including one prospect from a JV team in Minnesota. That isn’t a knock on U15, there are some steals in the U15 pool as it is much less viewed then U16’s or U18’s but there are some risks as some of their deficiencies may not be exposed at that level. Declan McDonnell is arguably the best U15 playmakers in the country; he’s fast, he’s slippery, he can access his full skill set at full speed and he has dual ability as a finisher or a play creator. They went back to Buffalo U15’s later in the draft to select strong skating power forward Nate Mann coming off an impressive showing at Nationals. There value may have come from a group of undersized prospects who are highly skilled such as Dominic James of Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, a small but quick, agile puck moving defender; Ben Steeves, a small but very smart and slippery playmaker who reads the ice and makes a ton of plays; Ben Dexheimer who was too small to play Edina HS this season but the Miami commit plays with exceptional pace and IQ and has the agility and quick hands to make opponents miss. Overall, Lincoln doesn’t come out of the draft with anyone who is likely to help them next season but they acquired some undervalued prospects out of U15’s and due to their current size. We gave them a B- but could end up being much better depending how these players develop in the coming years.
Team: Madison Capitols
Best prospect: Ryan Kirwan (#18 Ranked)
Best Value: Ryan Kirwan (#18 Ranked / #14 Overall)
Picks: 10 Total; 2 in Top 50; 6 in Top 100
Summary: Madison is an organization that has been struggling for the past few years and needed a good draft. They played it pretty safe; they took quality prospects for equal value in their slots. Their best pick was Penn State commit Ryan Kirwan; a prospect who was seen as a sure-fire NTDP player a year ago but had a lackluster year at the prep level and inconsistent showing at NTDP Evaluation Camp. His upside is as high as anyone in the draft and he has the size and style to be an excellent player in the USHL. Their next pick was Stephen Davis, a BC commit out of Boston Advantage who has the size, skating ability and athleticism to play a solid three-zone game. They didn’t have a third rounder but were able to acquire three solid prospects in the next rounds in strong, reliable stay at home defender Cole Oravitz out of Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U16; the highly underrated Kyle Kukkonen, a fast, good-sized, soft handed forward out of Maple Grove Bantam AA and NTDP Evaluation Camp invite goalie Grant Riley out of Rochester Coalition U15. With their last four picks they selected local boy and late 2002 Jaxson Ezman off their U16 team and NHL analyst Pierre McGuire’s son Ryan McGuire who is a high energy and compete forward out of Belmont Hill. There other two picks were out of the U16 Tier 1 Elite League in strong, balanced skating Jack Horbach, a 200 foot, detailed forward out of Chicago Mission and big, raw, mobile defender Matt Sredl out of Oakland Jr. Grizzlies organization. He could end up being a major steal as he moves well for his size and has a heavy shot from the point to make him a threat at both ends.
Team: Muskegon Lumberjacks
Picks: 10 Total; 3 in Top 50; 6 in Top 100
Summary: Muskegon, in our opinion, won the draft by taking value at each level and grabbing a great mix of talent from all over the world. There first pick was Alexandros Gaffney, one of the most dynamic forwards in the age group who is coming off a strong showing at both NTDP camp and USA Hockey Nationals. He’s small but highly skilled, smart and has a consistent motor. In the second round they returned to Russia where they were able to get top NHL draft prospect Andrie Svechnikov two years ago, this time with Danil Gushchin, our highest rated player in World Selects last spring of the Russian National team. He’s arguably the best player in the entire draft and may be one of the best 2002’s in the world. In the third round they picked up Jack Williams, a strong on his skates, balanced, 200 foot forward who can score, can play with energy or with skill and is one of the more underrated forward in the age group out of Selects Academy. There next two picks were tremendous value plays in Nicholas O’Hanisain, an athletic, physical, two-way defenseman who’s game really improved from the first half of the season to the second. He can skate, he can play tight, tough defense and he can also stretch the ice offensively, activate from the offensive blue line and contribute to both special team units. Next is a small, but highly skilled Cole Vallese who is creative and effortless puck possession style forward. They stayed local in their next two picks drafting Little Caesars teammates Tanner Kelly and Kienan Draper. Kelly is a cerebral playmaker with vision and poise and Draper, son of NHLer Kris Draper, is a high compete, opportunistic scorer who goes to the dirty areas and plays a hard game. With two of their last three picks they took chances up north with size/speed/scoring combo forward Matthew Maggio, our #83 ranked OHL Draft prospect and quick, smooth, dynamic Delta Academy U15 leading scorer John Evans. Overall, Muskegon had a great strategy in getting highly skilled prospect in the first few rounds, adding great value in the middle rounds and taking calculated risks in the later rounds. A very good draft for John Vanbiesbrouck and company.
Team: Omaha Lancers
Best prospect: Chase Bradley (#16 Ranked)
Picks: 12 Total; 2 in Top 50; 6 in Top 100
Summary: After some head scratching moves in last years Phase I Draft, Omaha’s new staff led by GM David Wilkie and Director of Scouting Kirk Leudeke rebounded very well here. They started by taking two tenders who are not only skilled, high upside prospect but also have the grit, compete and physicality to play at the USHL level right away in Chase Bradley and local boy Cameron Berg. In the next round they stayed true to that style and picked the best skill/speed/compete level prospect available in RPI commit Michael Cameron. In the middle rounds the Lancers selected tall, versatile, high ceiling prospect Riley Stuart out of Phoenix Jr. Coyotes U15. Then they got Michigan State commit Tiernan Shoudy off the Little Caesar’s U16 team; a clever, slippery forward with great awareness and vision. The real value in the draft came in the later rounds acquiring two Minnesota prospects Blake Mesenburg out of Shattuck St. Mary’s and Blake Perbix out of St. Cloud Cathedral HS. Mesenburg was one of the top bantams in the country last year and struggled early in the season to make the adjustment to midget, but the hard shooting, strong skating, skilled power forward came on strong at the end of the year and made this a great value pick. Perbix played high school this season in Minnesota and showed his powerful stride, heavy shot and high hockey IQ. Both have a great chance of getting to this level in the near future. With their last three picks they took some shots up north including skilled puck moving defenseman Landon Kosior out of Tisdale Trojans Midget AAA program. Overall, this was a great draft for Omaha that not only added skill but USHL style players who fit the way they play.
Team: Sioux City Musketeers
Best prospect: Anthony Kehrer (#3 Ranked)
Picks: 11 Total; 4 in Top 50; 8 in Top 100
Summary: Sioux City had a lot of picks to work with this season with two picks in the top 10 and four picks in the top 36. However, they took the most of their opportunity and walked out of the first round with our #3 and #4 ranked prospects in Anthony Kehrer and Blake Biondi. Both of these players were among the best at NTDP Evaluation Camp. Kehrer is a gifted skater who can be a one-man breakout, can run the power play, can take the body and be tough 1v1 or thread passes through tiny lanes. Biondi, who turned down the NTDP invite, is a balanced skater with great lower body strength and a combination of high level hockey sense and a well-rounded, detailed approach. Both of these players are difference makers at the next level. In the second round they went with highly skilled offensive defenseman Christian Jimenez who has excellent skating and puck handling ability. Their next pick was one of the top remaining goalies in the draft in Aidan Campbell who was an NTDP camp snub with size and athleticism. Then they shifted attention outside the US and took UNH commit Tim Stutzle from Germany and Carter Loney from Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. Loney isn’t the biggest guy on the ice but he’s the hardest to catch; a quick, shifty forward with elusive stick skills and ability to stop and accelerate instantly. Five of their final six picks came out of the state of Minnesota and all of them are players. Noah Tussey was their best value pick in the draft; the Stillwater HS prospect has great poise and puck possession ability and a potent shot. The Minnesota commit didn’t have his best showing at NTDP Evaluation camp which seemed to hurt his draft stock, but they got a top two round talent in the sixth round. There other Minnesota picks were all good value in Jon Bell out of St. Cloud Cathedral HS, an offensively gifted undersized defenseman; Landon Parker, a tall, rangy forward out of East Grand Forks HS with deceptively smooth hands and athletic skating ability and finally Mason Langenbrunner, son of NHLer Jamie Langenbrunner, of Cloquet Lumberjacks Bantam AA who has good size and a simple, mature, defensive focused game.
Team: Sioux Falls Stampede
Best Value: Dane Dowiak (#21 Ranked / #61 Overall)
Picks: 10 Total; 3 in Top 50; 6 in Top 100
Summary: The Stampede took two quality players with high upside in the first 30 picks with Jack Smith at 13 and Nick Desantis at 29. Smith is a MN high school player and MN Duluth commit who earned an NTDP camp invite. He has great speed and soft hands; plays a smart game and transitions quickly in the middle zone. Miami commit Desantis is skilled, undersized, tough and smart. Wins pucks and knows the action is at the net. Good value at pick 29. With the 45th selection, they chose Victor Mancini, another NTDP camp invite. He is a defensive type, tough to play against with upside up the ice. Penn St. commit Dane Dowiak was their pick in the fourth round. Dowiak is a smart, 200 foot forward with excellent vision and slick hands. Johnny Meiers and Artem Shlaine came next. Meirs played both bantam and MN HS this year and has vision, Shlaine is a very skilled Russian import who works and earned high grades in three of our reports. In round eight, they took Ethan Edwards, followed by David Andreychuk. Edwards is an undersized, mobile defender and Andreychuk played U16 with the NJ Devils and has touch around the cage. He will play prep hockey next season. Sioux Falls went for another Russian late with Yan Kuznetsov. Lots of diversity in this draft group with perhaps as much upside as any group.
Team: Tri City Storm
Picks: 10 Total; 5 in Top 50; 7 in Top 100
Summary: The Storm tendered Colby Ambrosio and Ruben Rafkin, both ranked in our top 10. Ambrosio plays with great pace and has some bit to his game, Rafkin is talented, hits to defend and has a pro-style game that will translate to the junior level. Tri-City then moved up to the number three spot and selected Little Caesar’s U15 forward, Carter Mazur. The Michigan St. commit and NTDP camp invite is a quality pick as he wins shifts and is versatile with offensive upside. Kyle Aucoin, Matthew Knies, Mark Estapa and Matthew Basgall all come in rounds one through three. Versatile group through the middle rounds. Victor Czerneckianair proved the most interesting and perhaps the most valuable pick. The Quinnipiac commit and our 50th ranked prospect has a lot of skill. Creative player who will need to round his overall game out but has great value in the eighth round.
Team: Waterloo Black Hawks
Best prospect: Wyatt Schingoethe (#11 Ranked)
Picks: 9 Total; 3 in Top 50; 6 in Top 100
Summary: Waterloo made some calculated picks. Tender Wyatt Schingoethe is a polished, productive player who thinks the game at a high level and has the tools to play a number of ways. Doyle plays a tough style, goes to the crease and can score from anywhere in the offensive zone. Donovan Sebrango is a BU commit and played at CIHA Academy. Elite athletic ability and projects as a two-way defenseman who can run the power play. Dom Foglia is a Shattuck defenseman with length and mobility on the blue line. Good value in the eighth round as he has lots of upside. Jamie Drysdale is a great pick if he decides on the college/USHL route. He was a dominant player in the 2002 age group in Ontario. Fourth overall pick in the OHL draft and the steal of the USHL draft in round 10 if he reports. Waterloo made some smart, safe, picks of talented players and took some high reward risks as well.
Team: Youngstown Phantoms
Best prospect: Scott Morrow (#34 Ranked)
Picks: 11 Total; 3 in Top 50; 5 in Top 100
Summary: Scott Morrow leads a talented group for Youngstown. The uncommitted defenseman is a savvy player who will eat up minutes as he matures. Spencer Evans was their third-round selection. He has good size and can control games from the back end, also an NTDP camp invite. Messineo is another uncommitted defenseman who played prep hockey last season. Adapted well against older players and plays a tough, calculated game. Avery Hayes and Anthony Cipollone are two slick forwards with skill and energy. Cippollone is another prep hockey standout and Hayes had a very good year for HoneyBaked at the U16 level. Good mix overall of skilled forwards who play with pace and defenseman who can play at both ends.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images