Neutral Zone scouts have put together a USHL Draft recap breaking down a total of 110 picks from each team in both Phase I and Phase II. We provided background and scouting information on each team’s top selection in each draft as well as a good value pick and a sleeper pick. In most cases there were several players to choose from but we tried to spread it out among regions so each territory was represented.
The USHL draft is unique in that it is not like the CHL where players are compensated and the USHL can draft players from anywhere in the US/CAN and where the CHL has territory limitations. They also have two drafts; one U15 aged players (Phase I) and the other for U20 aged players (Phase II) so USHL teams have to cover a lot of ground and many of which are on very limited budgets so we applaud every staff for their work in putting their draft boards together. The USHL is the premier Junior league in the United States mostly comprised of top NCAA bound prospects.
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders-Phase I
Top Pick: Cade Littler (F, R, 6’1″, 187, Wenatchee Wilderness U16, 07/12/2004) and Dominic Elliott (D, R, 5’9″, 150, Fox Motors U15, 01/26/2004) -Cade earned himself an invite to NTDP Evaluation camp after a dominate season with the Wenatchee Wild U16 program where he netted 46 goals in 55 games. He’s tall, athletic and can play with power or finesse and has great touch around the net. He has taken major strides from lasts year to now so if he continues to develop at this pace, he has a bright future ahead of him. Elliott is a defenseman but he too is not a stranger to finding the back of the net despite playing defense for Fox Motors U15 team where he netted 49 pts in 63 games on the back-end. Good feet which allows him to get around the ice efficiently. Pushes the pace and is effective on the rush. Identifies passing options quickly and snaps the puck tape-to-tape. He is balanced and athletic and makes the first-man miss. He looks to quickly transition defense to offense and has good vision and anticipation.
Value Pick: Andrew DellaDonna (F, R, 5’9″, 175, Selects Academy U15, 05/18/2004, Ohio State) -Andrew played with the Selects Academy U15s and has committed to Ohio State. He works hard in all three zones and fights through pressure. He has a high motor and good feet which let him get up to speed quickly. He makes plays at top speed and is effective through the neutral zone. Processes decisions quickly and makes several nice plays into space after zone entries. He stops on pucks and plays a complete game in his own zone. He plays physical when needed and has some sandpaper to his game.
Sleeper Pick: Bobby Landry (F, R, 5’10”, 155, Dexter School, 03/22/2004) -Right-shot winger that played at Dexter School in the New England Prep circuit this winter. As a 2004, he was counted on in more of a secondary scoring role and will see his responsibility increase next year. He does a lot of little things right. He gets to the net, stops on pucks, works hard on the back-check. He sees the ice well and facilitates the offense on line-rushes through the neutral zone. He is good down low and off-the-cycle. Keeps his feet moving and battles through pressure. Gets to the net and can finish.
Top Pick: Douglas Grimes (F, R, 6’3″, 190, Dexter School, 04/18/2002, Boston University) -Doug made big strides this year at Dexter Prep School and committed to Boston University during the season. He is a long forward that has a strong, athletic stride and gets around the ice easily. He gets up to speed quickly with a strong first step. Attacks defenders directly and uses his long reach and speed to beat them to the outside. He has good hands which let him make plays in tight. Uses his body well along the walls to protect the puck. Gets to the net well and can finish.
Value Pick: Dane Dowiak (F, L, 5’10”, 172, Gunnery, 03/27/2002, Penn State) -Dane was at the Gunnery this past year and scored 43 points in 33 games for the Highlanders. The Penn State commit plays a subtle game that is effective in all three zones. Good feet with a good burst. Balanced and strong and is tough to separate from the point. Plays physical when needed and grinds in the offensive zone below the dots. He has a quick, slick stick and wins puck battles. He is smart and sees the ice extremely well. Identifies passing lanes quickly and snaps tape-to-tape passes. Changes speeds well to create time and space.
Sleeper Pick: Kyle Mandleur (F, L, 6’5″, 255, Corpus Christi Ice Rays, 11/09/2001, Vermont) -Late 2001 is a Vermont commit that played this past season in the NCDC with the Boston Bandits. He is a big power winger that also has some puck skills. He is very raw but uses his size to overpower defenders in the offensive zone. He cannot be separated from the puck along the walls and below the dots. He has a powerful shot which he uses from anywhere on the ice. He is learning to play a heavier and meaner game around the net. Still has some upside.
Chicago Steel-Phase I
Top Pick: Adam Fantilli (LW, L, 6’2″, 180, Kimball Union, 10/12/2004) -Adam is one of the premier ‘04s in the world. His power, skill, shooting ability, and pro stride are all elite. He was a man among boys even as a 2004 at the NE Prep level. It was the best freshman season NZ has ever seen in prep school hockey. He took over games as a 2004. He was the assistant Captain at the Youth Olympic team and one of the best players in the tournament. Has a real edge to his game. He can be intimidating to play against. He can beat opponents in so many different ways and physically punish them at the same time. Total package.
Value Picks: Chris Delaney (F, L, 5’6″, 131, Boston Jr. Bruins 16U, 09/25/2004) and Nicholas Moldenhauer (F, R, 5’10”, 155, Toronto Titans U15, 05/25/2004) -Chris may not be all that big but he is smart and shifty and putting a net on him is a struggle for a full game. He guards the middle of the ice well for a young player and he’s even willing to mix in some physicality in stretches. Above all his ability to handle the puck is a key to his self-preservation: he stays in motion in order to stay on his skates. His ability to shuffle the boots will keep him in the play and his head transports him to open ice before the defense finds it. As he gets bigger, he will be a bigger threat. Moldenhauer was a first round pick by Ottawa in the OHL Priority Draft. He can really play and was dominant with Titans this season. He’s got great speed and he can make access all his skills with pace He has soft hands with a north-south power element. Nicholas has got good jump for his size He can attack the net and causes havoc on the forecheck. He is a versatile player who wins shifts and help his team without scoring.
Sleeper Pick: Mick Thompson (F, L, 5’4″, 120, NJ Avalanche U16, 03/01/2004) -Nick has a sneaky value for a 10th round Phase 1 Draft pick. Thompson came down from Toronto to play in NJ for the Avalanche and put up big numbers for them at the 16U level. His hands are quick and efficient for a 2004 and he is able to slip through traffic thanks to shifty footwork. He also is adept at creating passing seams by staying in motion and forcing the defense to adjust to him. His ability to read the offensive zone is a skill that will continue to pay dividends down the road, no matter how tall you are. That said, once he adds more size, he could really be scary.
Top Pick: Lukas Gustafsson (D, L, 5’9″, 154, Cushing Academy, 12/16/2002, Boston College) He is an offensive defenseman with a smooth stride and terrific awareness. He is skilled with the puck, poised and able to carry the mail or deliver it. He is agile and a breakout machine. His play on the power play is elite. He was one of the most talented, heads-up puck carriers in Prep hockey. Perhaps THE most talented. He can go end to end but also is a skilled distributor who can stretch the ice and get back to defend. Highly talented player with NHL upside. The BC commit was Chicago’s first pick in Phase II in the sixth round as they loaded up in Phase I. Lukas is a superb player at this spot to add to the youngsters. NHL scouts will have eyes on him for 2021.
Value Pick: Matthew Beniers (F, L, 6’0″, 168, NTDP U18, 11/05/2002, Harvard) -Hard to give Chicago a value pick in this draft given how late they drafted but we’ll go with Beniers, one of the top 2002 forwards in the age group who played on NTDP this past season. He’s going to Harvard this fall but to lock up his rights should anything happen not a bad idea with a late round pick in Phase II for a team that doesn’t need a lot of immediate contributors. Very low risk for a player who likely will not play in the USHL but extremely high reward if for some reason he does.
Sleeper Pick: Jason Marsella (D, L, 5’11”, 175, Avon Old Farms, 11/20/2002, Yale) -Jason has always been a top shelf prospect locally in New England and he took his talents to Avon Old Farms this past season which was a new challenge for him. Previously he dominated with the NJ Avalanche, but he was forced to adjust more this season. His skills and measurables are still much the same. He can adapt to fit nearly any game plan: he can push the pace offensively or sit back and shut down his half of ice, matching forwards stride for stride. We also like his willingness to play the body in any situation: driving from his base to deliver extra punishment. Had a nice year at AOF and it will be interesting to see how he does in Steel camp.
Des Moines Buccaneers-Phase I
Top Pick: Michael Stenberg (F, R, 6’0″, 174, Thayer Academy, 09/22/2004, Penn State)and Jackson Dorrington (D, L, 6’2″, 179, Cushing Academy, 04/13/2004) -Hard to pick which one of these New England Prep prospects is the top guy so we took both; Stenberg was the best American ’04 forward in prep hockey this past season and Dorrington was the best ’04 American defenseman. Stenberg is a power forward with an exclamation point as a ferocious, high compete, strong, physical north south center who plays a complete 200 ft game. Dorrington is a bit rawer at this point, but possesses a rare combination of size, athleticism and physical play. He can stay on his man, closes quickly and doesn’t shy away from taking the body. Both arguably NTDP snubs.
Value Pick: Matthew Jovanovic (D, L, 6’1″, 182, Toronto Marlboros U15, 09/22/2004) -The second-round pick by Saginaw in the OHL Draft this past month is a serious prospect in that he has a long, athletic frame, he’s mobile and can jump up and join the rush or play a stout defensive game. Expansive skill set for his age and can run a power play or kill penalties. He won’t be easy to lure from the OHL as he was our #16 ranked prospect ’04 prospect in Ontario this past season with the Marlies, but if they can get him he’s a steal in the 7th round.
Sleeper Pick: Yoan Loshing (F, L, 5’8″, 140, Mississauga Senators U15, 02/29/2004) -Another highly coveted prospect who they’ll have to fight off the QMJHL for because he’s likely to go in the top rounds in June’s draft, but the Mississauga Senators best player this past season with quick feet, high IQ and dynamic play-making ability.
Top Prospect: Tanner Latsch (F, L, 6’2″, 187, NTDP U18, 01/02/2002) -Latsch has been characterized by NZ Director of NHL Draft Ian Moran as the most underappreciated prospect in the NHL Draft this year. No matter what the situation was, no matter who was called up or who was injured Tanner nearly never left the fourth line wing throughout the season getting very little opportunities on power plays or scoring chances. Given that his stat line doesn’t impress but he’s an underrated prospect; he’s big, strong, physical, tough to play against and a has a rocket for a shot. He plays a hard game on the forecheck and opens up opportunities for his teammates and has deceptive hands below the dots to get pucks to the net. Versatile and can play in any situation.
Value Pick: Ayrton Martino (F, L, 5’10”, 165, St. Michael’s Buzzers, 09/28/2002, Clarkson) -Martino is coming off a breakout season in the OJHL where he led St. Michael’s top line in scoring and in points. He also had a strong showing at the World Junior Challenge where he earned a B+ grade from our scouts and showed his speed, high IQ and vision translate at the highest level. He plays fast and thinks the game, he has creativity and poise with the puck and can finish. He was Madison’s first round pick last year in the entry draft but taken in the 8th round here a year later.
Sleeper Pick: Hunter McKown (F, R, 6’1″, 185, NTDP U18, 08/18/2002, Colorado) -Similar to Latsch in a talent prospect who was in a bottom six role for NTDP the past two seasons but has more upside than meets the eye. He’s tall but light on his feet allowing him to get to top speed quickly and has greater agility and lateral movement then most his size. He has a long, athletic, fluid stride and once he fills into his frame and gets more offensive opportunities, he’s got a chance to flourish this upcoming season.
Dubuque Fighting Saints-Phase I
Top Pick: Rieger Lorenz (F, L, 6’1″, 165, Edge School Elite 15’s, 03/30/2004) – Lorenz is an exceptional skater, he’s got speed, balance, long fluid stride. He was a high pick in the WHL draft but committed to Denver. He can shoot in stride, reads goalies and has a quick release and power behind it. He’s got a power element to his game that is underrated; he attacks the net, he can get inside on defenders and has the balance and vision to make plays in traffic.
Value Pick: Colby Woogk (D, L, 6’0″, 186, Dallas Stars U16, 07/10/2004) -Big body defender who will step up and knock opponents down. He is positionally sound. He, has a well-rounded game, he’s strong on his stick and on his skates which will translate at the junior level. His passes are pin-point and it shows on the power play. He has a rocket shot from the point and can make firm passes through seams on the tape. He’s tough to play against and will lean on opponents and clear out the net front. Poised player who is multi-faceted.
Sleeper Pick: Fisher Scott (D, L, 5’9″, 136, Colorado Thunderbirds U15, 10/27/2004) -Fisher is a late 2004 who is agile and a breakout machine. He is a pure skater with speed and excellent edgework. He has some bite to his game, closes quickly on opponents and hits to create turnovers. His stick is quick and his defensive instincts are solid. He anticipates well. He can break pucks out of his end quickly and rarely gets beat 1v1. Up ice he moves in and out from the offensive blue line and starts clean zone entries. Impressive young player.
Top Pick: Tristan Lemyre (C, R, 5’9″, 170, Flin Flon Bombers, 01/15/2001, Denver) and Ryan Alexander (F, L, 5’10”, 181, St. Michael’s Buzzers, 06/17/2002, Arizona State) – Tristan Lemyre is a Quebec native but had a breakout season this past year in the SJHL leading a talented Flin Flon team in goals per game with 30 in just 44 games as an ’01. He’s not the biggest guy but he can skate, he has a quick, accurate release and not afraid to go into dirty areas. His hands are both elusive and firm and he has instinctive approach where he can make split second decisions at full speed. He earned an A at the MJHL/SJHL Showcase as one of the top prospects in the tournament. Ryan Alexander is an OJHL standout for St. Michael’s and has climbed his way up NHL Draft boards this season as a talented two-way center who is strong on his skates and plays a complete game. He is used in every situation for the Buzzers, he sees the ice well and can distribute, he blocks shots, he takes the body and is tough to move once he drives the net. His hands are sturdy and skilled and he can play a power game or a finesse game depending on the situation. Both of these prospects can come in day 1 and make a difference on this team plus they complement each other’s styles well.
Value Pick: Finn Brown (F, R, 6’4″, 191, St. Michael’s Buzzers, 04/06/2002, RPI) -The linemate of second round pick Ryan Alexander, Finn Brown brings a physical, power forward approach to his game. He’s big, he’s tough, he has touch around the net and can open up space for his teammates. He’s tough to play against below the dots and he’s got deceptive vision particularly in tight areas and sets up his linemates with regularity in scoring areas. He’s more of a goal scorer net front type than Alexander and benefits playing on the wing with a skilled centerman who can get him the puck in the slot area. He has a powerful shot and had a good showing at the CJHL Top Prospects game (so did Alexander).
Sleeper Picks: Joseph Kramer (F, R, 5’10”, 171, Thayer Academy, 08/08/2002, Providence) and Thomas Kramer (F, L, 6’1″, 194, Bonnyville Pontiacs, 08/08/2000, Babson) -Joseph is a nice late-round pick-up for the Fighting Saints as he will likely be paired with his twin brother and both attended BC High before moving to Thayer this past season. He may not have the offensive production that his twin brother puts up, but he has the smarts to be a dangerous offensive option. His awareness and willingness to go hard to the net will make him a valuable asset. Thomas Kramer is the oldest junior-age Kramer brother is heading back to play with his younger brothers. It could potentially be a reunion of the MIAA Super 8 state championship that BC High won with all three brothers on the roster in 2018-19. Thomas has had an interesting road – he won our Mr. Hockey Award last year and got out of the gate fast offensively in Bonnyville of the AJHL, but then got injured which slowed his progress. Despite missing a lot of action, he still put up point-per-game numbers, including 22 goals in 39 games. As a 2000, he is big, strong and experienced – he will be a nice option to fill out the roster.
Fargo Force-Phase I
Top Pick: Camden Shasby (D, L, 5’8″, 134, Fox Motors U15, 12/02/2004) -Left-shot defender that we have been tracking for a few years. He moved from the Alaska North Stars U14 to the Fox Motors U15 and was counted on to play big minutes on the back-end. Escapes pressure well and has slick feet which allows him to make the first man miss. Poised and makes direct tape-to-tape passes to get out of his end easily. He is a balanced skater and leads the rush through the neutral zone.
Value Pick: John Henry (D, R, 5’11”, 185, Rochester Selects U15, 02/25/2004) -John (Jack) is a bigger right-shot defender that moves well given his size. Was counted on to play big minutes for the Rochester U15s. He plays an effective, direct game in his end. Snaps passes to his wingers and joins the rush to open-up outlets. Great passing ability and sees lanes well through the neutral zone. Defends well through the middle of the ice and his own end. Closes quickly and plays physical when needed. Big shot from the point which he releases accurately and quickly.
Sleeper Pick: Brodrick Williams (D, R, 6’1″, 180, Shattuck St. Marys U14, 02/04/2004) -He is still raw but is a bigger body that gets around the ice well. He keeps forwards in front of his and uses his feet and active stick to close on forwards and break-up plays in transition. Uses his size well at both ends of the rink. Physically shuts down opponents below the goal line and then will protect the puck along the walls before snapping a quick pass to an open teammate. Had 13 points in 46 games for the Shattuck U15s. .
Top Pick: Andrew Miller (G, L, 5’11”, 181, Bismarck Bobcats, 02/10/2000, Minnesota State) and Trevor Griebel (D, L, 5’9″, 175, Wenatchee Wild, 03/07/2001)- Miller is an immediate impact goaltender who can fight for a start position; he’s not the biggest but he’s technical, composed, reads the play and has excellent footwork. Griebel played defense for Wenatchee this past season and was a skilled puck mover with soft hands and vision. He’s a polished skater, he has the ability to carry the puck out of his end or shake off a forechecker and stretch the ice with a pass. Both should be able to step in an play key roles right away.
Value Pick: Samuel Duerr (D, L, 6’0″, 200, Shattuck St. Mary’s U16, 03/22/2002) and Matthew Crasa (F, R, 5’10”, 175, Selects Academy 18U, 03/04/2001, Sacred Heart)- Crasa played is midget hockey at South Kent before heading to the BCHL last season with Cowichan Valley. Scored 44 pts, including 25 goals in 51 games for the Capitals in 2019-2020. He is light on his feet and shifty. Uses his edges well to escape pressure and make defenders miss. Accelerates quickly and can separate easily. He is athletic and attacks defenders directly. Good hands to break down defenders in space and can also make plays in tight. Quick release on his shot. Committed to Sacred Heart. Sam Duerr, the University of Maine commit, played this past season for Shattuck Prep, and also has three games of USHL experience with Sioux Falls. Athletic defender with soft hands that makes plays. He sees the ice well and makes a strong first pass. He can be used in all situations and is strong in all three zones. He reads the play well and can make direct passes or lay the puck into space. He has a quick release from the point and does a good job using his feet to open-up space and shooting lanes.
Sleeper Pick: Nicholas Peluso (F, R, 5’6″, 141, Rochester Selects U15, 02/14/2004) – Nick is a 2004 that played on the Rochester U15s and scored 95 points in 71 games. He is an athletic winger that is light on his feet and gets up-and-down the ice well. He beats defenders in a multitude of ways. He has the speed and strength to beat defenders wide through the middle of the ice. He also has a slick set of hands which lets him break down defenders in transition. He makes plays in tight and is solid along the walls. Good off-the-cycle and around the net. Good acceleration and jump and has the feet which let him separate quickly.
Green Bay Gamblers-Phase I
Top Pick: Camron VanSickle (F, L, 6’1″, 195, Detroit Honeybaked U15, 02/24/2004, Denver) – He is a long, gifted player that can score and sees the whole ice. He plays a high compete, dog-on-a-bone type game, wins puck battles and can get to the net with a combination of power, will and skill. His best attribute is his versatility; he can play power play, penalty kill, he blocks shots, takes hits to make plays and can get off checks in the offensive zone and make plays in traffic.
Value Pick: Bowden Singleton (F, L, 5’7″, 150, Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep, 05/15/2004, North Dakota) and Ollie Chessler (D, L, 5’10”, 145, Rivers School, 07/09/2004) -Singleton is a former second round WHL pick but has stayed firm thus far with his NCAA verbal commitment to North Dakota. He’s a rare talent; he has exceptional quickness; he can operate his entire skill set at full speed and has the vision and hockey IQ to create scoring chances all over the ice. He played for a highly skill NAX Prep team this year as a 15-year-old and was among their best players. If he comes to Green Bay, he’s a steal in the fourth round. Ollie is a bit of a hidden gem playing for a small school in New England prep. He’s an undersized, puck moving defenseman who has excellent footwork and athleticism. He is both slick and quick making him elusive on the breakout and along the offensive blue line and has a real ability to create up the ice. He has top pair potential in this league as he grows and fills out.
Sleeper Pick: Grayson Badger (F, R, 5’11”, 163, Dexter School, 05/09/2004) -Grayson played high school hockey in Massachusetts this season but we saw him quite a bit in split-season Midget. He is intense, has strength and is a balanced, agile skater. He has already committed to play at New England Prep powerhouse Dexter School next season but the speed and power forward Badger is a great project type pick here with the last pick and has upside far beyond his draft position. He plays hungry, plays with an edge, is physical in all three-zones and coming off a dominate season in high school hockey playing against older players.
Top Pick: Matthew Davis (G, L, 5’11”, 172, Spruce Grove Saints, 06/16/2001, Denver) (Spruce Grove Saints) and Cody Monds (F, R, 5’9″, 150, Northwood School, 02/09/2001, Providence) (Victoria Grizzlies) – Green Bay took Davis in the first round showing they believe he can compete for the starting job right away. He played in the World Junior Challenge for Team Canada and had strong games against USA and Russia (shutout) and he’s got a good glove, manages rebounds well and has quick, aggressive style. One of our top-rated goalies in the AJHL which had a deep talent pool for goalies this season. Monds is electric and has the ability to make people miss in space; he can make something from nothing. He has great burst, can stop on a dime, slick hands and a heads-up approach to the game finding seams and setting up his teammates. He’s dynamic offensively and averaged over a point per game in his first year in junior hockey in the BCHL. An immediate impact prospect who can score or set the table and plays with a high compete/motor.
Value Pick: Will Staring (D, L, 6’1″, 175, Shattuck St. Mary’s U16, 02/28/2003) -Will was passed on last season with good reason. He just wasn’t there yet. However, he had a solid season with the U16s at Shattuck and is getting better and better. He has good height, shows mobility in every direction and has an active stick. He picked up some points this season. Player with a lot of upside. He is trending in the right direction.
Sleeper Picks: Shawn Ramsey (D, L, 5’9″, 140, Toronto Nationals U15, 03/18/2004) and Joey Peters (D, L, 6’1″, 207, St. Louis Jr. Blues 16U, 03/19/2004) -Ramsey is a savvy pick here in the late rounds as a skilled two-way defenseman out of the Toronto Nationals where he led their blue line this season and played in every situation. He was our #27th rated prospect in Ontario for ‘04’s but fell a bit in the draft because he’s undersized and doesn’t put up a lot of points but he’s a breakout machine, mobile and has a well-rounded game. Peters was in our Top 150 OHL US Draft Rankings report. He is big and strong. He made one of our NZ All-Star squad at National Camp which is tough as we have our most diligent scouts in attendance. Not a terrific puck mover yet but punishing in his end. He is mean, strong and aggressive
Lincoln Stars-Phase I
Top Pick: Chase Pietila -One of the premier ’04 defenders in the US with a versatile skill set. He’s a tall, long reach, athletic, mobile, multi-dimensional defenseman who makes a crisp first pass, is patient and reads lines rushes well and works to be an outlet for his D partner. He has a maturity to his game, he keeps his hips low on take offs and doesn’t cross his feet when he’s pivoting; a young prospect who is ready to play in this league and has potential to play beyond.
Value Pick: Keaton Peters (F, R, 5’9″, 160, Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U15, 03/01/2004) -Offensively he possesses a high IQ and has tremendous poise. Keaton’s very good at gaining the zone, reading the defender’s gaps and exploiting them. He can change pace so smoothly that defenders start to lean and then he’s able to find the open man.
Sleeper Pick: Patrick Raftery (F, R, 5’9″, 153, Colorado Thunderbirds U15, 02/01/2004) -This kid is a worker who plays with passion and energy. Patrick is the type of player who you hate to play against, but love to have as a teammate. His base and low center of gravity make him hard to push off the puck and conversely, he is a machine at generating turnovers. There is no doubt that Patrick is a player to keep an eye on.
Top Pick: Winter Wallace (F, R, 6’2″, 201, Shattuck St. Mary’s U18, 01/21/2002, Michigan State) – He’s going to play and he’s going to be a kid that will be dramatically more productive once he fills out and really learns how to use his body. Winter has NHL upside, he’s just a really big kid who’s still getting used to his size and leverage. His skating ability and athleticism standout and he’s coming off a highly productive season with Shattuck St. Mary’s makes the 6’3” forward an obvious first round USHL pick.
Value Pick: Cole Craft (RW, R, 6’1″, 170, Rockland Nationals, 06/29/2001, Lake Superior) and Will Traeger (F, L, 5’6″, 155, Shattuck St. Mary’s U16, 04/10/2002, Boston College) -Cole’s a hockey player and he’s on our NHL Draft Watch List. He probably won’t get drafted, but he is a kid who contributes to every aspect of a team’s winning culture. he’s big, strong and competitive and does all the little things to help his team win. He led his team in offensive production this season and has the stick skill, the puck protection ability and net front presence to finish off plays. He can play up and down the lineup and will bring leadership as a third-year junior player. Traeger is an undersized, high pace forward who can think the game and create a lot offense. He has a great stick, both offensively and defensively, but I really expect him to contribute on the score sheet as he continues to develop and get stronger. Will has quick, explosive feet and once he gets a step on you; he’s gone.
Sleeper Pick: Luka Sukovic (F, R, 6’1″, 202, Team Illinois U16, 11/06/2003) -Sukovic played on Team Illinois U16 and didn’t get a ton of attention but goes here with their final pick. He’s a big power forward who can get through contact, has balanced edges and is strong on his stick. He has developed this pas season into a goal scorer who gets pucks to the net, crashes for rebounds with a strong stick and has a hard-net front game.
Madison Capitols-Phase I
Top Pick: Quinn Finley (F, L, 5’8″, 140, Green Bay Gamblers U16, 08/08/2004) -Finley was an NTDP camp invite. He is our 23rd ranked 2004 in the USA and could have made the team at camp. He is quick, fast and mobile. He pushes bad gaps on opponents and knows how to create space. He uses that space well as he has the tools to move laterally to open passing and shooting lanes or hold possession and let plays develop. His edges are elite. He is both clever and mature and can change the angle on his shot, can bait a defender and then dish it to open space and doesn’t have predetermined moves; he reads defenders and reacts to their weaknesses. High ceiling player who remains uncommitted.
Value Pick: Nathan Lewis (F, R, 6’3″, 175, Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U15, 07/27/2004)- Nathan is deadly near the net. He has a long, productive stride that will allow for more speed as he fills out. His offensive IQ is very high as he knows where to go to score and where the puck should go to set up his linemates. He is good in the defensive end and plays power play and penalty kill at a high level. A mid-round OHL Draft pick who had a lot of attention on him from teams north of the border but if the uncommitted prospect goes to Madison it’s a great value in the fourth round. He protects the puck on the wall and is effective creating turnovers and transition chances. Sniper with real vision.
Sleeper Pick: Ian Spencer (F, L, 5’9″, 165, Chicago Fury 16U, 09/09/2004) -Ian has been on an upswing. He plays for a team where the offense runs through him quite often. He gets tons of ice-time and that is starting to pay off. He is smallish still but makes smart reads and quickly. Quick stick that he uses at both ends and he worked hard back to and in his own zone. He is both fast and balanced on his skates. High ceiling player who we think has a chance to be a first PP and end of game type forward. Pace and skill. He earned a B+ at National Camp amongst the USA’s best 2004s.
Top Pick: Owen Gallatin (D, L, 5’8″, 168, NTDP U18, 06/17/2002, Minnesota Duluth) -Owen has played two seasons with the USA Development Team. He is an undersized, high IQ puck mover. His feet are both quick and agile and he sees plays developing early. He will be a major help on the power play for Madison despite his NTDP stat line not showing what he’s capable of offensively His touches are soft and his passes are accurate. He does not panic under pressure. He will matriculate at Minnesota-Duluth in 2021. He has some NHL draft upside although he ranks low on most lists but NZ has him as a C+ prospect an late consideration.
Value Pick: Timofey Khokhlachev (F, L, 6’4″, 210, Shreveport Mudbugs, 11/06/2001, AIC) -Timofey (Timofei) has grown the last couple years and is a monster now. He has some USHL experience but this season really caught our eye in the NAHL where he showed he is not just a big body power forward but can make plays, create space below the dots and get pucks to the net. He is a “C” rate NHL NZ Prospect and a player that could walk in right away and fill a role either on a top or bottom line given his size and versatility. He’s a bit raw still but he’s proven at the junior level, he’s got real upside and will be a mismatch in the offensive zone for most defenders, especially around the net.
Sleeper Pick: Marino Ramirez (G, L, 6’0″, 175, Shattuck St. Mary’s U16, 08/20/2003)-This pick has value because Marino is one of the more athletic goalies in this draft. He may not be the prototypical size but he is not small either. His stats this past season might not impress but for an ’03 to play on the Shattuck Prep team is impressive itself and he’s got all the tools. He reads the play well, he can see pucks through traffic, he’s quick and can recover and set his feet to make secondary saves.
Muskegon Lumberjacks-Phase I
Top Pick: Owen Mehlenbacher (F, L, 6’1″, 165, Buffalo Jr. Sabres U15, 01/26/2004) and Ivan Miroshnichenko (F, R, 6’0″, 185, Muskegon Lumberjacks, 02/04/2004) -Muskegon tendered these two international prospects; Owen from Canada and Ivan from Russia as their top 2004 prospects. Both of these players have the size and the skill to play in the league as 16 year-olds. Mehlenbacher is a pure two-way power forward with finesse around the net and Miroshnichenko who we have only seen at the Youth Olympics where he posted 12 points in 4 games; is a strong skater, soft hands, powerful release and plays with an edge. Both prospects are beyond their age group in their development.
Value Pick: Connor Levis (F, R, 6’1″, 180, Yale Hockey Academy, 10/05/2004, Michigan) -Levis is a former first round pick in the WHL Draft, has stayed loyal thus far to the NCAA route with a verbal commitment to Michigan so drafting him in the 6th round is quite a value for this type of player. He has great size and athleticism, he’s tough and plays an honest north-south game and can finish with an array of shooting talent and power. He’s the type of player who just gets better and better the more he plays.
Sleeper Pick: Mike Callow (F, R, 6’2″, 169, St. Sebastian’s, 01/15/2004) -Callow is a tall, long, high ceiling prospect who continues to improve his game from year to year. He’s athletic, he works hard and plays with some edge. He’s developing his puck carrying ability and getting to spots in the offensive zone playing a regular shift in prep this year on a deep team and finishing the season with 16 points in 28 games. He might have the highest upside of any of the later round picks in this draft.
Top Pick: Cristophe Tellier (F, L, 6’2″, 186, Surrey Eagles, 05/23/2000, Quinnipiac) -Tellier was recently ranked the #22 NCAA Eligible ’00 prospect in North America and goes to Muskegon here with their top pick. He’s a one-year player and will then matriculate to Quinnipiac but he’s an immediate impact, high skill and work ethic combo forward who makes plays. He has enough size and strength to come out of scrums with the puck and excellent poise, vision and puck possession skill to create for himself and his teammates.
Value Pick: Timofei Spitserov (F, L, 6’0″, 180, Culver Academy, 03/26/2002) -Spitserov is a creative, puck possession style forward with a rare creativity and imagination to his game. He has slick hands, reads goalies and can pick corners finishing the year with 49 goals in 40 games. He’s not a complete player at this point but he’s very willing to go into traffic areas and fight for loose pucks and seems to bounce off contact. Great value at this stage in the draft.
Sleeper Pick: John Evans (F, R, 5’9″, 135, Delta Hockey Academy, 04/08/2002, New Hampshire) -It would be hard to refer to John Evans as a sleeper pick given his success this season in the BCHL and earning an NCAA commitment to UNH, but he is a first-round talent who they took with their last pick. He’s got good speed and a high motor, soft set of hands and a quick release. If they can get him to report he can make an impact right away with his combination of skill, skating and compete level.
Omaha Lancers-Phase I
Top Pick: Aiden Dubinsky (D, R, 5’10”, 160, Florida Alliance U16, 04/28/2004) (Florida Alliance U16) – Aiden has long been regarded as a solid, steady, tough defenseman by our staff. He has terrific lateral movement and denies clean zone entries. He is explosive on his blades and makes big hits on the wall and in space. His play is mostly simple but what he does (defending his end,) he does at a high level. The 2004 received an “A-” at National Camp and was selected to NZ’s All-Star team. His puck play is a work in progress but we see signs he will get there. Highly talented with his best hockey ahead. High IQ, two-way prospect. OHL pick and here is what we said after he was selected a month ago.
Value Pick: Daimon Gardner (F, L, 6’2″, 168, Rink Hockey Academy U15, 01/19/2004) (Rink Hockey Academy U15| – Daimon plays for Rink Hockey Academy in Manitoba and was a WHL pick last season. He was the leading scorer and MVP of the CSSHL E15 this season. He is a quick skater who gets to speed in no time and uses his speed to create off the rush or to take space away from defenders on the forecheck. He came on this season as it was clear the game slowed down for him. He processes plays quickly and attacks lanes. Interesting player on an upswing.
Sleeper Pick: Michael Mesic (F, L, 5’8″, 155, Compuware U15, 08/01/2004) -Not sure he can be called a sleeper as an OHL pick and a highly rated player by NZ, but his game far exceeds his draft position here. He isn’t flashy but smart and fearless. He makes slick passes and has a quick release. Our 49th ranked American 2004 has been highly regarded by scouts in both the US and Canada. He has a big brain on the ice and the tools and size to back it up. He can play and is one of the more underrated prospects in this draft.
Top Pick: Cam Mitchell (F, L, 5’9″, 175, Spruce Grove Saints, 03/09/2001, Nebraska Omaha) -Omaha didn’t pick until the second round in the Phase II but was able to land a top round talent in Mitchell. He’s a speedy forward who checks all the boxes; he plays a complete game, he can make plays with pace, he forechecks and backchecks with authority and can separate from opponents both in traffic and in open ice. His stat line doesn’t jump off the page but he’s a veteran junior player with three years in the AJHL under his belt, he can play anywhere in the lineup and has the shot, the vision and the speed to play a top six role. He showed well at World Junior Championships for Team Canada showing he can play at the highest level.
Value Pick: Zach Reim (D, L, 5’11”, 162, Gentry Academy U16, 05/24/2003) -The 2003 defenseman has improved steadily the last 18 months. He was a calming influence on the blue line for an excellent Gentry U16 team this season. He is rock solid in all three zones and can play in all situations. Smooth stride and excellent in transition. His vision is high end and he can pass as well as any defender in this phase of the draft. He has offensive ability and a heavy shot from the point and is tough around his net front.
Sleeper Pick: Cooper Black (G, L, 6’7″, 195, Maryland Black Bears, 06/14/2001) -Black is a 6’7” goalie out of Michigan High School hockey who made his junior debut this season in the NAHL as a backup posting a .916 save percentage over 19 starts. He stays tight, can make himself small to track pucks and has strong positioning and firm technique. His fundamentals are very good as he keeps it simple. Tremendous upside with his frame and athleticism. Our third ranked 2001 NAHL goalie at mid-season. Hard to call a fourth rounder a sleeper but given he’s never been a starter at the junior level and came out of Michigan High School he’s a bit unknown on a national level (not for long.)
Sioux City Musketeers-Phase I
Top Pick: Nick Pierre (F, L, 5’8″, 166, Hill Murray HS, 04/09/2004, Wisconsin) and Jimmy Clark (F, L, 5’11”, 165, Edina HS, 09/24/2004) Sioux City was able to take two of Minneosta’s best ’04 forwards in Jimmy Clark and Nick Pierre who many thought were on track for NTDP. Pierre is a highly-skilled, dynamic offensive talent with speed, quickness and vision. He can score from anywhere in the offensive zone and was the best player on the ice during the Minnesota State Tournament for Hill Murray. He gets shots off quickly, he can read the play and find open ice and has an explosive step to create separation and the balance to absorb hits. Jimmy fit right into a loaded Edina (MN) lineup as a late 2004. He started off scoring goals right away and was a factor in big moments all season. NTDP camp invite and our 35th ranked 2004 in the USA. He has the vision to breakdown defenses and the touch and skill to slide passes to his teammates in scoring areas and create odd man rushes on the rush. He’s got the size and reach to get to pucks, extend to catch bad passes and get his stick in lanes to break up passes defensively. Clark also has deceptively quick hands and can get out of tight, traffic areas with possession. He has speed to burn and can make something from nothing just like Pierre.
Value Pick: Dylan Godbout (F, L, 5’10”, 171, Hill Murray HS, 05/05/2004, Wisconsin) -Another 2004 from MN High School, Dylan is a talented forward with a high ceiling. He is a smooth skater with terrific edgework. Changes direction and he finds soft ice. He makes quick decisions and makes his mark on every game. The Wisconsin commit is a star on the power play. On the biggest stage in amateur hockey, he earned a “B+” grade in the MN High School Tournament. That says something about his poise, talent and maturity.
Sleeper Pick: Tyler Dysart (F, L, 5’10”, 170, San Jose Jr. Sharks U15, 06/30/2004) -We have Tyler ranked in our Top 200 2004s. He has shown size and speed. He bullies his way to the net with a strong core and powerful stride. He reads plays well and is always near the net. He is skilled with the puck but not above the greasy areas and garbage goals. He is tough to play against and time will tell if he can continue to play the same style as others grow. His approach will translate at the junior level.
Top Pick: Matteo Costantini (F, L, 6’0″, 175, Buffalo Jr. Sabres, 08/16/2002) -Matteo ripped up the OJHL this past season and has moved on to some NHL Draft boards. He has a natural hockey sense and the puck finds him. His stick is sneaky and he can create passing lanes in all three zones. He shows a burst to separate and can break down defenders 1v1. He is not overly flashy but brings his lunch pail every game. He moved from a 3.25 star in September 2018 to a 4.0 star in February 2020 so his game is clearly trending. A 200-foot player who is one of the best uncommitted prospects in North America.
Value Pick: Tabor Heaslip (F, L, 5’9″, 160, Amarillo Bulls, 12/17/2001, Connecticut) -Tabor is an explosive skater with elite speed and agility. Our report on him from the Avon Christmas Classic may best describe his skills: “Tabor played like a torpedo. He played fast and looked dangerous for Avon every time he had possession. He can fly by defensemen off the edge or attack directly with a slick stick. He passed the puck and moved to smart spots. We liked that he can separate quickly with his head up and the puck does not slow him. His breakout season in New England prep has earned him a C grade as a late round consideration and is the type of player you fear in the neutral zone as he’s a few steps away from a breakaway on any turnover.
Sleeper Pick: Matthew Allen (F, R, 5’10”, 165, Amarillo Bulls, 05/13/2000, UMass Lowell) -Allen led Amarillo in scoring and is an experienced player who could add depth to the Musketeer lineup. He knows how to get to spots and make plays. He led the Top Prospects event in scoring with five points, all goals. He has good speed, stays on the puck and is a consistent presence at the net front. He’s committed to UMass Lowell so he’s certainly well known throughout the NAHL but he’s out of Iowa Wild program and a 2000 birth year so not as well known as some of the other immediate impact players at this level.
Sioux Falls Stampede-Phase I
Top Pick: Ryan Healey (D, R, 5’11”, 150, Boston Advantage U16, 05/19/2004) -There’s a good chance Ryan has improved as much or more than any player in the country over the last few years. He’s a smart smooth righty who can generate offense from anywhere on the ice. He has the ability to play some games this year and after that has top pair defenseman ability in this league.
Value Pick: Justin Varner (F, R, 5’9″, 160, Detroit Honeybaked U15, 02/13/2004) -With goal scoring being a premium, there are few ‘04s in US and Canada who can fill the net the way Varner can. To have him on the board in the fourth round is quite a value for his talent. He’s not just a one-dimensional scorer; he’s strong on his edges, he’s quick to pucks and can get shots off quickly with defenders on him. His release is special and will translate at the higher levels.
Sleeper Pick: Kazimier Sobieski (D, R, 5’10”, 167, Shattuck St. Marys U15, 04/12/2004) -While the fifth round isn’t quite “sleeper” territory, Sobieski is the type of player who can play in the league early. Physically he’s strong on the puck, wins 50-50 battles and clears lanes. Offensively Kazimeir is smart in transition and makes nice, smooth outlets to his forwards. I’ve watched this kid since he was squirt and he’s been on a steady climb of improvement the entire time.
Top Pick: Noah Grannan (G, L, 6’2″, 170, NTDP U18, 04/27/2002, Wisconsin) -The Stampede could be getting a potential starting goalie with something to prove. He’s coming off an unreal experience with the NTDP, but there’s no doubt he was the backup. We like this pick a lot. We saw him make some incredibly athletic saves this year and he plays with confidence.
Value Pick: Verner Miettinen (F, L, 5’11”, 185, Undecided/Unknown, 04/07/2003) -Miettinen falls to the 7th round as scouts aren’t sure if he’ll come overseas but this is an early round talent for sure. He’s playing at just under a point a game clip in International competition and he’s pretty balanced between being a goal scorer and playmaker. He plays a hard game, will attack traffic and has a strong, balanced stride.
Sleeper Pick: Brian Grant (D, R, 5’11”, 155, Deerfield, 03/18/2004) -Brian’s a strong young 2004 who’s always been a dominant defender and player growing up. He was a young defenseman on an older, experienced team so didn’t get a ton of opportunities but he’s sneaky good and a clever pick here in the later rounds. He’s a fluid skater, plays with physicality and moves puck quickly and efficiently.
Tri-City Storm-Phase I
Top Pick: Vinny Borgesi (D, R, 5’6″, 131, Selects Academy U15, 03/02/2004, Northeastern)- Borgesi is a quick, fast, agile, puck possession defenseman who is basically a fourth forward on the ice. In most any other year he’d be on the powerplay for the National Program but this year has a strong group of offensive defenseman so he’s going the USHL route. He can fly, he has exceptional puck control at top speed and can wiggle, shake off forecheckers and create offense up the ice. He is swift, quick and skilled along the offensive blue line and quarterbacks the power play. Exciting young prospect to watch.
Value Pick: Isaiah George (D, L, 6’1″, 170, Toronto Marlboros U15, 02/15/2004) and Shaun McEwen (D, L, 5’10”, 145, Selects Academy U15, 01/21/2004)- We put two players here because Isaiah George could be a bit of a stretch to lure him south after a dominate season with the Toronto Marlies where he proved to be one of the most talented defenders in the OHL Draft (despite falling to the fourth round). He is a mobile, two-way defender who can match speed with anyone and shows real strength along the wall. He wins pucks and moves them quickly and can run a power play at the next level. So aside from George who would be the steal of the draft if they could lure him in, McEwan is also a nice value in the third round as an athletic defenseman with quick feet and real speed. He is more puck mover than a shutdown guy at this point but that is mainly because he has the puck so much. He can lead or join the rush and get back to break up plays. His regroups are superb and he has elite vision. He has improved a lot in the
Sleeper Pick: August Falloon (F, L, 6’1″, 175, St. Cloud Cathedral, 02/23/2004)- August is a bigger kid who plays a solid north-south game. He is an effective threat on the goal line making plays and creating opportunities. He is a strong shooter who proved it as an underclassman this past season with St. Cloud, putting away 20 goals. He stretches himself out with his size and stick length to disrupt plays. He isn’t afraid to throw his body around and play physical. His skating must improve but his sense and approach are very good. Plus, he can score.
Top Pick: Hunter Strand (F, L, 5’11”, 174, NTDP U18, 11/13/2002, Notre Dame) -Hunter is another player who was with the U18 National team and is taking another year before college. He is a strong skater with powerful and balanced strides. The late 2002 and Notre Dame commit uses his edges and lower body strength to create separation in tight areas in order to get a shot or pass off. He has a strong stick on walls and battles for loose pucks. Good edges and cut back used to escape defenders and create space. Plays with his head up and very hard to keep up with as he processes plays really quickly. He can be slippery in traffic but will also get job done on the PK as well blocking shots and making strong clears. He has the potential to be one of the top 200ft prospects in this league.
Value Pick: Shane Lachance (F, L, 6’4″, 190, Tabor Academy, 08/01/2003) -This pick may hold the most value of any. Shane played public high school hockey for one year as a freshman where he was a big, strong player who scored and had success. He appeared at Tabor Academy (Massachusetts) this season stronger, leaner and faster. At 6’4”, he is a beast. He hits to create turnovers and rips the puck like a pro. He has an exceptional reach, catches bad passes in stride and plays like a man despite being an ‘03. He was the best prospect we saw at the Avon Christmas Classic and one of the very best in Prep hockey. NHL teams will have eyes on him next year as his game is coming together rapidly.
Sleeper Pick: Aidan Cobb (F, L, 5’9″, 165, Kent School, 03/05/2002, Cornell) -Aidan has been a player who has been overlooked a bit the last couple years out of Kent School in Connecticut. He is attentive, gets off checks and helps on the breakout. His stick is excellent and he works really hard in his end. He blocks shots and can play any situation. He is also skilled and can rip pucks with his feet moving and also thread pucks through sticks. His pace of play is very good as is his balance and edgework. He is smart and tricky but also tough and gritty. The Cornell commit is not big and will not jump off the ice at scouts but he can play and he never cheats the game.
Waterloo Black Hawks-Phase I
Top Picks: Michael Lastarza (F, L, 5’10”, 155, Shattuck St. Marys U15, 01/14/2004) and Owen Baker (F, L, 5’9″, 160, Detroit Honeybaked U15, 01/29/2004)- LaStarza was tender by the Black Hawks, a high-end forward out of Shattuck St. Mary’s who was most recently ranked our #3 QMJHL Draft prospect. He’s coming off a dominate season with Shattuck St. Mary’s U16 squad and has the rare skill and power combo which works well in the USHL. He’s a hound on loose pucks, he’s strong and wins puck battles, he can go outside with speed around defenders or cut in and make plays to the net. The tender won’t intimidate QMJHL programs from drafting him so we added their next pick. Owen Baker who as some size with strong edges as he is able to cut back and change speeds to beat defenders. He can score or set the table and he did so at an amazing rate this past season with 123pts in 64 games. He plays a team game and moves the puck to create space. He gets to great spots and his stick is always prepared to fire the puck home. His release is quick and his shot is accurate. High IQ and can play center or wing. Protects the puck, plays in his end and transitions in a hurry. He does not cheat the game and there is no magic in his success. It’s hard work and smarts. That should translate.
Value Pick: Patrick Geary (D, L, 5’11”, 154, Buffalo Jr. Sabres U15, 02/18/2004) and Tucker Shedd (D, L, 6’0″, 170, Compuware U15, 09/08/2004)- These two defenders were both good value picks where they got them; Shedd is better known after playing with Little Caesars last year and Compuware this season and is a mature, strong based defender who can mix it up physically, is tough to play against and can also move pucks. He’s so strong and balanced he’ll be able to matriculate to junior hockey earlier than most ‘04s in this draft and his game is still improving. Patrick is a tall, mobile defenseman. He has soft hands and a high compete. He plays tough in his end with his head on a swivel. He has soft hands and can float passes through the neutral zone and hit both long- and short-range tape to tape. He’s also a fluid puck carrier and can lead rushes or escape forecheckers behind his net to start breakouts. He rides contact and holds the blue line well. His upside is high and a player with all his tools should develop into a two-way player at the USHL level.
Sleeper Pick: Will Schumacher (F, L, 5’10”, 150, Prior Lake HS, 05/04/2004) -Our Minnesota scouts have Will ranked the #19 uncommitted player in MN High School hockey. Not just in his age group but all os the State of Hockey. That’s some good company. He led Prior Lake i scoring with a 17-20-37 line. He is a fluid skater who is fast with quick hands. He makes a lot happen. He is raw but extremely athletic. He’s instinctive, can elude defenders in the neutral zone and on the rush and shoots with a purpose.
Top Pick: Charlie Glockner (G, L, 6’2″, 180, Amarillo Bulls, 06/27/2000) and Charlie Strobel (F, L, 6’1″, 190, Hill Murray HS, 07/09/2002, Minnesota) -Waterloo took a pair of Charlies in the first two rounds and both are proven former Minnesota High School standouts. Glockner is an ’00 so a one-year rental but will have a chance to start right away after an outstanding rookie season in the NAHL starting 31 games and stopping 93% of his shots. At 6’2” and as composed as he is, he’s one of the top uncommitted goalies in the country. Strobel was a man among boys this year in Minnesota High School for Hill-Murray and led his team to the state title (like his dad Mike and uncle Mark had done in the 90’s). He’s physical, wins puck battles, heavy shot and protects pucks down low in the offensive zone. He earned an A grade in the Minnesota State tournament at the biggest stage so the jump to junior won’t be too much for him.
Value Pick: Cole Teleki (D, R, 6’1″, 190, Lawrence Academy, 03/13/2002, Providence) -Cole is a Dallas native who made the move to Massachusetts to play prep hockey for Lawrence Academy He is a strong right shot defedner who smothers the cycle and stops the rush with pop. He protects his net and ties up sticks to prevent rebound chances. He makes quick passes in transition and creates along the offensive blue line. He has a heavy shot. He will have to quicken it up some but is a player with a lot of tools. He can be trusted at the end of games and his potential has caught they of NZ NHL and he was recently added as a C prospect for late round/rookie camp invite consideration.
Sleeper Pick: Dave Andreychuk (F, L, 6’0″, 170, Gunnery, 04/02/2002, St. Lawrence) -David has slowly and surely improved over the last few years. He is instinctive in all three zones and the puck finds him. The St. Lawrence commit goes to the net with and without the puck and has quick hands to gather loose pucks and either shoot or move the puck. He is not a dangler but plays the game the right way and has a very high hockey IQ. Every viewing in the past year, he looked stronger, more confident and his pace has picked up as a result. He went from 11 points last year for Gunnery School to 53 points this past season playing alongside NHL Draft prospect Alex Jefferies.
Top Picks: Jack Larrigan (F, R, 5’9″, 160, Shattuck St. Marys U15, 04/09/2004, Notre Dame) and Tyler Catalano (F, R, 6’3″, 202, St. Louis Jr. Blues U15, 02/26/2004) -They both are very good and very different. Larrigan is a high pace, high skill forward who loves to creats in space. He has a quick processor with the puck. Jack is explosive and tough to get a body on. His head is always up and he is a savvy playmaker. Catalano is almost the opposite. He is big, physical and very direct. More the power forward type as he gets to the net and he opens up space for linemates. His ability to find scoring spots in the slot or get to the net front and not be moved is excellent. His stick is heavy and he e wins battles for pucks in the corners and protects it once he gains possession. Reliable and can wear teams down.
Value Picks: Jake Furlong (D, L, 5’9″, 145, Mount St. Charles U15, 03/04/2004)and Lukas Klemm (D, R, 6’0″, 194, North Jersey Avalanche U16, 04/20/2004) -Jake really put himself on the map of US-based scouts by relocating from Halifax to play last season at Mt. St. Charles. He didn’t miss a beat, transitioning very well to the New England hockey market and dominating for stretches. The young defenseman has good size and more muscle yet to add to his frame, but make no mistake that he projects nicely as an offensive defenseman. Good power to his stride and smart decision-making with when to jump up and when to stay at home. Expect him to be an impact player for the future. Peter was taken one pick (acquired via trade) after Furlong and the two of them would make a formidable tandem of 04s. Klemm has a great frame already and is a slick skater which will allow him to push the pace effectively at the next level. His ability to handle the puck also makes him a dual threat offensively and defensively. The future of the Phantoms back end is in great hands.
Sleeper Pick: Samuel Oliver (F, L, 5’10”, 181, Rothesay Netherwood U18, 07/04/2004) -Sam had an impressive season with Rothesay Netherwood in the MPHL as an ’04. He led the team in goals and points as one of their youngest players. He’ll be highly sought after in the upcoming QMJHL Draft so makes sense he was taken late here. Sam’s got a very high hockey IQ as he sees the play after the play. He has slick hands to back his brain and a potent shot. He knows where to be on the ice, he creates time and space with delay and change of speed and can finish. Poised, calculated, productive.
Top Pick: Adam Eisele (F, R, 6’1″, 170, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 07/11/2001, Minnesota State) -The former Stillwater HS standout had a strong rookie season in the NAHL and stood out at the Showcase. He’s crafty with slippery stick. He can create in space or slide/ride contact and emerge from wall battles with the puck and a plan. He plays a mature game with vision and poise with the puck. He reads the play, can get in and out of crowds and always with his head up. Adam shoots to score. His skating has improved even more as he is fast and mobile. Smooth skater who can can spin off checks.
Value Picks: Kyle Furey (D, R, 6’0″, 175, Lawrence Academy, 02/05/2002) and Marcus Joughin (F, L, 5’11”, 175, New Hampton School, 07/05/2001, Sacred Heart) -Kyle is a great value at the spot where he was selected in Phase II. Every season we watch Furey, he continues to grow. He has good size and will continue to add more strength, but he plays hard on the puck in all three zones. He also isn’t afraid to bang bodies to separate man from puck: He just wears you down over the course of a game. He grew his game moving from MIAA to prep hockey with Lawrence Academy as he was more of a shutdown physical defender and became more of a two-way threat in prep. In their final NE Prep game our Head of Scouting said he was the best player on the ice against a very good Berkshire team. Joughin squeezed about as much as he could out of his prep school experience. He continued to get better every season he spent at New Hampton which netted him a D1 commitment and he continued to rack up points in the process. At the prep level, his vision was excellent and his ability to anticipate the play made him so tough to defend. He is ready for a new challenge in order to take his game to yet another level.
Sleeper Picks: Isaac MacLeod (F, R, 5’10”, 185, West Kelowna Warriors, 04/04/2002, Dartmouth) and Michael Rubin (D, R, 6’1″, 180, NJ Rockets U16, 05/05/2003, Merrimack) -Isaac is fun to watch play because he makes so few mistakes. He is a sturdy, smart and sneaky scorer who put up big numbers this past season in prep because he was playing a level above much of his competition. He sees the ice well and knows how to get himself open. He’s deceptive and never gives away his hand: that makes him more dangerous because you can’t anticipate his shot vs. his pass. He needs to be challenged more at a higher level and the USHL would be just the ticket. Rubin is a smart late round pick for the Phantoms. He is a strong, bruising defender and every team needs a player like him on their roster. He isn’t just an enforcer though: Rubin can skate well for a big man and he has a heavy shot to boot. He’s spent a lot of his junior career playing in the USPHL and he is a star for the Rockets, but you can tell that he is ready to take a jump. Expect him to continue to add more size and strength, and become more of a force as he gets older.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images