Q&A: Peyton Frantti, St. Norbert Recruit

Posted on June 3, 2018

Peyton Frantti spent three seasons at Culver before joining the NAHL. After putting up 48 points in 60 games during the 2017-18 season, he committed to St. Norbert. The Illinois native spent two seasons in the NAHL, split between the Topeka Roadrunners and the Odessa Jackalopes. Neutral Zone caught up with Frantti to talk about…

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Together with Dad: The Blaine Warnert Story

Posted on September 16, 2017

  The Zamboni making an ice cut in between periods: it’s a necessity for the players on the ice who need a clean sheet to play on. But for one Chaska, Minnesota first grader, Blaine Warnert, It was the coolest thing on four wheels. “I started playing hockey in first grade and once I started…

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From New Canaan to New Haven: The Briggs Gammill Story

Posted on September 15, 2017

  For Briggs Gammill, it all started at New Canaan Winter Club in Connecticut at the age of three. The Winter Club is not exactly a hockey destination, rather an outdoor public rink in the small town of New Canaan. It was here where his love for the game developed and gave him an opportunity…

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Lessons Between the Pipes: Q&A with Dryden McKay

Posted on September 6, 2017

This past week one of the countries top goalie prospects in the 1997 age group, Dryden McKay, committed to Minnesota State after a highly successful season with Madison Capitols in the USHL. The 3.75 star prospect sat down with Neutral Zone to tell his unique hockey story; the story of a 16-year-old heading off to…

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Wisconsin High School Hockey Standout Commits to UMass Lowell

Posted on August 24, 2017

  UMass Lowell and Head Coach Norm Bazin recently received a commitment from 3.75-star prospect Chase Blackmun, a 6-foot, 185-pound, right-shot defenseman out of Hudson, Wisconsin. In a time of single sport specialization, early commitments and the erosion of high school hockey; Chase goes against nearly every modern hockey movement.  He stayed at his local…

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Bross heads east to join UMass Boston

Posted on August 14, 2017

UMass Boston (NEHC) recently received a commitment from 3.25-star prospect Zack Bross from the Minot Minotauros of the NAHL. The 6’0”, 195-lb. ’96 born forward hails from Weldon Spring, Missouri and is a veteran grab for the Beacons and coach Peter Belisle. Bross is a mature, strong and smart player with a high compete level…

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Q&A with recent Providence College commit Parker Ford

Posted on August 8, 2017

Neutral Zone was able to catch up with recent Providence College commit Parker Ford for a quick Q&A about the early stages of his hockey career, his decision to commit to the home-state school he’s followed for so long, and his future goals and plans. The former Selects Academy U16 forward, currently ranked as a…

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Tiernan Shoudy commits to Michigan State University

Posted on August 3, 2017

Michigan native working toward future with Spartans Fresh off a solid performance at the recent Junior Chowder Cup and a commitment to Michigan State University, it might be easy for Tiernan Shoudy to rest on his laurels and enjoy some summer downtime.  Not quite. Instead, the 2002-born Little Ceasars U16 forward is spending his summer…

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Top 25 Uncommitted NAHL Prospects

Posted on March 4, 2017

Neutral Zone sent two scouts to Plymouth, MI for the annual NAHL Top Prospects event February 27-28, 2017. We will publish three separate reports from this event. This will be followed by a report on every skater from the Top Prospects and then our top 50 NA3HL players in Plymouth. The Top Prospects Tournament showcased…

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Top 600 NCAA Eligible Prospects Born in 1997

Posted on December 14, 2016

Neutral Zone is pleased to announce our Top 600 list for 1997 born NCAA Eligible prospects throughout North America. Each player on this list has been evaluated by regional scouts in their area and also cross referenced by other scouts on staff as well as the Director of Scouting. The players are evaluated from August-December and given a star rating. The Top 600 players are selected from a pool of over 1,000 NCAA prospects in a grueling process and evaluated against one another to come up with a 1-600 list. The star ratings are more indicative of future success than the difference between #205 and #250, but the rankings are used in the calculus of the NCAA Recruiting Class Rankings.

As part of our mission statement to use analytics to educate coaches, scouts, players and parents we have broken down our Top 600 rankings and provided viewers with several interesting statistics.

League Breakdown

League # of Players %
NAHL 139 23.2%
USHL 129 21.5%
BCHL 104 17.3%
AJHL 63 10.5%
OJHL 46 7.6%
CCHL 29 4.8%
USPHL 29 4.8%
SJHL 21 3.5%
MJHL 14 2.3%
GOJHL 11 1.8%
Other 6 1.0%
NE Prep 5 0.8%
EHL 4 0.6%

The purpose of showing the league breakdown is not to rank the strengh of the leagues, rather to show where these 600 players are coming from. With that being said we see that the double digit percentages are in the four top junior leagues in North America. Keep in mind that some leagues above only have 12 teams in them while other leagues have over 20 so it is not fair to say for example that the OJHL is a better league than the CCHL because it has 17 more players on the list because it has nearly double the amount of teams.

Position Breakdown

Position # of Players %
Forwards 369 61.5%
Defense 180 30.0%
Goalies 51 8.5%

Here we breakdown the 600 players on the list by position. Our list is consistent with the 60/30/10 percentage breakdown between forwards, defense and goaltenders on most NCAA teams.


Status # of Players %
D1 Committed 177 29.5%
Uncommitted 423 70.5%

In look at the 1997 list we see that nearly 1/3 of the players are already committed to D1 programs. Some of these players have signed their letter of intent and are expected to matriculate next fall, others will play another year of junior hockey.

Top 600 Star Ratings

Rating # of Players %
4.75 1 0.2%
4.5 4 0.7%
4.25 6 1.0%
4 18 3.0%
3.75 87 14.5%
3.5 143 23.8%
3.25 111 18.5%
3 123 20.5%
2.75 107 17.8%

The Top 600 ranges in star ratings from 4.75-2.75. This chart looks at all 600 prospects and what star rating they have. The first thing that jumps out is how 4.0-4.75 star players only make up 5% of the total list. Then the list goes up to 14.5% for 3.75 star prospects and up again to 23.8% for 3.5 star prospects. The reason there are so few 4.0 stars is the mainly the age factor. Top prospects are typically playing college hockey at 18 or 19 so there are not a ton of 4 stars left in junior hockey at the older ages. Keep in mind Connor McDavid is a 1997 birth year…

NZ Historical Star Rating Breakdown

Rating D1 % D3 % CIS/Other %
5.0 100 0 0
4.75 100 0 0
4.5 100 0 0
4.25 100 0 0
4.0 98.8 0 1.2
3.75 97.7 0 2.3
3.5 95.5 0.4 4.1
3.25 13.3 74.4 12.3
3.0 4.5 85.6 9.9
2.75 0 96.7 3.3
2.5 0 97.4 2.6
2.25 0 91.2 8.8
2.0 0 67.8 22.2

This chart tracks the 2015-2016 Star Rating’s for 1998-1995’s. As you can see 3.5 star prospects and above have over 97% chance of playing D1 college hockey. This chart is made to give context to the star ratings in the Top 600. There are reasons for CIS/Other as some players we ranked last year had played CHL and were not NCAA eligible. We have now taken them out of the National Rankings to reduce that number. Also, with the US/CAN dollar exchange rate some of the Canadian prospects will not be able to afford D3 institutions. In the US, particularly in the midwest, some players simply stop playing or go the club route if they are not offered at a Division 1 school.

Top 600 NCAA Eligible 1997 Born Prospects in North America

Rank               Name               Team    Pos         Commit   Star
   1         Nick Swaney         Waterloo (USHL)      F     Minnesota Duluth 4.75
   2         Jordan Kawaguchi         Chilliwack (BCHL)      F      North Dakota 4.5
   3         Christian Evers         Lincoln (USHL)      D      North Dakota 4.5
   4         Blake Lizotte         Fargo (USHL)      F      St. Cloud 4.5
   5         Philip Nyberg         Madison (USHL)      D         UConn 4.5

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