The NTDP’s Evaluation Camp Roster was released this afternoon. While a number of names had already leaked out to the public, it’s exciting to see the list in it’s entirety and any surprises to make it. From my end, not really. I hadn’t been out to see RI’s Jamie Armstrong, nor had a long look at most of the HPHL. The rest seems pretty spot on. There are, as expected with such a talented pool of players, a few surprising omissions, however. Namely that’s Colorado Thunderbirds’ Cal Foote, son of Adam Foote, who is nearly a 1999 and still one of the top defensemen in an extremely deep group. That could be a sign that the WHL 2nd-rounder in 2013 could be Major Junior bound.
Similarly, Matt Kiersted and Cam Dineen are great offensive-minded blue liners – but Team Comcast’s Dave Melaragni seems like he would have to be in the conversation if those two were. No one, save maybe Chad Krys, and certainly no one Melaragni’s size (6’1) and age has been asked to run an entire team’s offense like the Northeastern recruit has, and does, on a shift-to-shift basis.
Up front, Omaha’s Ethen Frank seems like a surprising omission, but the rest seem like they’re on the outside looking in based on the talent pedigree and pro upside of the forwards this year. Frank’s Omaha teammate Dalton Gally, a defenseman, would have seemed a logical pick on the back-end, though with the depth of the 1998 D it’s really not an oversight. Defenseman Jakob Chychrun seems to be headed the OHL route, though the Florida native makes the 1998 defensive group even better than it already is.
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So where is the talent concentrated this year? Top to bottom it seems that all groups are strong, which is no surprise as this is a round-up of some of the top prospects in the country. While we haven’t seen all the skaters in the group, we do know about everyone, and have a solid idea of how strong the groups are right now, so here’s what position we suspect the 1998 group is going to be remembered for, moving backwards.
Positional Depth Ranking
Even without Jakob Chychrun, this group is deep top-to-bottom and littered with skaters that possess serious pro upside. Chad Krys, Griffin Luce, Luke Martin, Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren are already well-known names in hockey circles, but James Greenway and pretty much everyone else invited are right there knocking on the door.
I can’t imagine having to make the call in this group. Ryan Edquist, Dayton Rasmussen, Jake Oettinger and Joseph Woll are a formidable four. That doesn’t even include fellow NTDP invites Mike Latorella (Honeybaked U18) and Steven Dhillon (Buffalo Regals U15) or other 1998 prospects like Nick Sorgio, Jake Acton or Cole Weaver, all potential high USHL Phase 1 picks this spring. There are a few goaltenders out there, like Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U15 stopper Tommy Mohs, with size and some real talent that seemed like serious NTDP candidates, as well. There could be some very memorable professional goaltenders in this 1998 age-group, and that’s even considering how tough goaltenders are to project. The 1999 group, so far, doesn’t seem to touch this one, and neither do the 1997s, though that could really change.
This group is strong, but it seems higher on potential and lower on “sure things”. Though those are admittedly sparse at this age, this position just doesn’t have the pedigree of the other two, even if it ends up the best. Logan Brown and Max Jones may be the front-runners, but maybe BU recruit Clayton Keller, Honeybaked’s Pat Khodorenko or UMD recruit Joey Anderson will pull away as the top prospect here by draft year. It could end up being big forwards Trent Frederic or James Sanchez (Michigan), who would both likely come out of the NTDP as mean, top-end draft eligibles – or it could be Riley Tufte. Maybe three hours north of Tufte’s hometown of Blaine, similarly tall forward Mitchell Mattson has a name to prove – or it could be another from hated Minneapolis talent-factory suburb Edina in power forward Kieffer Bellows. What it isn’t, right now, is clear cut.
Below are all the prospects to receive an invitation to the camp and a brief report on each seen. They are not listed in any specific order.
98 F Logan Brown – Indiana Jr. Ice U16 – S70 (4)
6’4 forward with skill, vision and skating ability. Should be an NTDP lock.
98 F Pat Khodorenko – Honeybaked U16 – S70 (14)
Lights out offensive star that had hints of being a WHL flight risk but seems like a real candidate to go to the program now.
98 F Graham McPhee – SSM U16 – Boston College
Opportunistic, highly engaged forward with a nice set of wheels and serious hockey IQ. Son of Capitals GM George McPhee.
98 F James Sanchez – Chicago Young Americans U16 – Michigan
Power forward in the making, owns some offensive upside at 6’2, 180 but likely will not be a run-and-gun type, protects the puck well, reads the sheet and skates hard.
98 F Riley Tufte – Blaine High School – S70 (12)
Finesse, skating ability and skill packed into a 6’3, 190 body.
98 F Mitchell Mattson – Grand Rapids High School – S70 (21)
Similar to Tufte in that he’s got real size, though his offensive playmaking ability seems to be coming along even stronger as Mattson grows into his build.
98 F Trent Frederic – St. Louis Blues AAA U16 – S70 (6)
6’2 skater is a man amongst boys at the U16 level and could be primed to break out with the NTDP – seems like a perfect candidate for the program.
98 F Clayton Keller – SSM Prep – Boston University
If Jack Eichel wasn’t toeing the line between prodigy and generational talent, Keller would be BU’s star recruit. Even with Eichel on the way, Keller puts up a fight in that conversation. The young forward has enjoyed a phenomenal season for Shattuck’s prep. Consistently the best forward on the ice against skaters three years his senior – Keller is playing at an elite level and should only get better.
98 F Joey Anderson – Hill-Murray – Minnesota-Duluth
It’s tough to believe Anderson’s a freshman. Hungry to score goals and supremely talented at breaking through to generate offense. Seems to be a step of everyone else when he’s out there.
98 F Garrett Wait – Edina
Another rising sophomore talent from Edina, Wait seems to score whenever we see him and has a knack for making plays in the offensive and neutral zone.
98 F Kieffer Bellows – Edina – S70 (20)
Started the season strong – ended it stronger. His 3-4-7 line in 5 playoff games actually seemed a little low for how many grade-A chances Bellows either created or found himself around. Skilled, built like a truck and tough to play against. Would be a top 10 prospect had we seen him more recently prior to our last ranking.
98 F Kailer Yamamoto – LA Jr. Kings U16 – S70 (68)
Quick, playmaking skater uses his speed and sharp hockey mind to generate non-stop offense. Still on the smaller side of 5’6/5’7, but could be an elite D1 player yet.
98 F Hank Crone – Dallas Stars U16
Pass-and-skate playmaker breaks through with flashes of terrific offensive ability but would like to see it more consistently.
98 F Grant Cruikshank – Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U16
Great skater, really hits a top speed fast and opportunistic all over the sheet. Tough to play against, at 5’7.
98 F Josh Dunne – St. Louis AAA U16
Lanky forward could really break through – a late 1998 at 6’1, 150 with glimpses of elite ability since he was a Bantam.
98 F Jacob Nielsen – Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U16
Nielsen could be a good one – we didn’t get a clear read on him, though he was very involved offensively – we spent a lot of time watching NMU recruit Collin Peters and fellow NTDP invite Grant Cruikshank (above).
98 F Zach Walker – Colorado Thunderbirds U16
This T-Birds team is deep and talented. Like Nielsen above, we didn’t get a strong feel for Walker – but others did, from the WHL to the NCAA, and most seem to love what he brings to the table.
98 F Max Jones – Honeybaked U18
98 F Nick Pastujov – Honeybaked U16 – Michigan State
98 F Noah Lalonde – Honeybaked U16 – Michigan State
98 F Willie Knierim – Chicago Mission U16
98 F Dominick Mersch – Chicago Mission U16
Just 14 days from being a 1999, brother of Wisconsin star Michael Mersch (LAK, 4th Rd, ’11)
98 F John Leonard – Springfield Cathedral – UMass
98 F Jamie Armstrong – Bishop Hendricken (RI)
98 F Tim Gettinger – Cleveland Barons U16
98 F Keeghan Howdeshell – Compuware U16
98 F William Lockwood – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16
Notable Omissions: Ethen Frank, Dante Palecco, AJ Drobot, Sam Sternschein, Liam Murphy, Brett Pickler
98 D Chad Krys – NJ Rockets U19 – S70 (5)
Offensively-gifted is an understatement where Krys is concerned, regarded by many as the top 1998 defenseman on the East Coast, if not the country.
98 D Luke Martin – St. Louis Blues AAA U16 – Michigan
Looks like a pro prospect as a September-born 1998, at 6’2, 195, Martin is tough defensively and graceful as a skater. Meticulous in his own end and can escape the zone with the puck in a few strides.
98 D Adam Fox – LI Gulls U16 – Harvard
The Crimson recruit oozes confidence and does things with the puck that few can. Smooth skater pickpockets opposing skaters and turns the play up ice with ease, can run the point with the best of them.
98 D James Greenway – SSM U16 – S70 (25)
Massive defender is the younger brother of NTDP U17 forward Jordan Greenway (BU) and could turn into a serious force, not unlike Jordan, with the Program.
98 D Kenny Johnson – SSM U16
Johnson, too, has a talented other brother from the NTDP in Jack Johnson. Similar situation as James – could come out of the NTDP as one of the toughest 1998-born defenders to play against in the country. He’s at least 6’1 now and looks like he has more to grow.
98 D Brett Callahan – Chicago Mission U18
We didn’t realize Callahan was a 1998 until the second or third time we saw him, but just a month and a half from being a 1999, the 5’9 defender is mobile and capable against talented skaters three years his senior. A nice look by the NTDP.
98 D Sam Rossini – Burnsville High School
Big defenseman from the Blaze seems to be growing into his frame and could be a nice prospect when all is said and done.
98 D Matt Kiersted – Elk River High School – S70 (23)
Confident, 5’10 puck-moving blue liner loves to get involved in the play and could be a D1 powerplay quarterback one day as he rounds out his game and continues to grow.
98 D Griffin Luce – Salisbury School – Michigan
Like Luke Martin, Luce is a sure-fire NHL prospect at 6’3, 200 – a more graceful skater than most of his smaller peers and could be absolutely dominant at the D1 level.
98 D Andrew Peeke – Selects Academy at South Kent U16
6’2 defenseman projects well and looked great the few times we saw him. May have some offensive upside at the next level.
98 D Ryan Lindgren – SSM Prep – Minnesota
Minnesota’s most notorious blueliner of the 1998 age group by now. Tough, smart, plays hard and can make things happen in the offensive zone, too.
98 D Luke McInnis – Hingham High School – S70 (11)
Quick, smart defenseman is sharp at both ends of the ice, a decisive passer who sees the sheet well and should only get better.
98 D Cam Dineen – NJ Rockets U19 – Yale
5’11, mobile skater more than keeps up with teammate Chad Krys on the ice when the two are out together, a sharp, smart puck mover with offensive upside.
98 D Ty Farmer – St. Louis Blues AAA U16 – Michigan State
Athletic defender is meticulous defensively and breaks up great plays time and time again like it’s nothing. Could be one of D1′s best shut-down defensemen in a few years.
98 D Michael Campoli – Lac St. Louis (QC)
98 D Derek Daschke – Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16
98 D Matt Hellickson – Rogers High School
98 D Alex Green – Chicago Mission U16
98 D Mitch Eliot – Honeybaked U16 – Michigan State
Notable Omissions: Callan Foote, Dave Melaragni, Dalton Gally, Simon Butala, Ryan Bederka, Ben Gleason, Nick McKeeby, Jake Ryczek
98 G Ryan Edquist – SSM U16 – Minnesota
It’s hard to believe the next Gopher goaltender is only 5’11 as he takes up so much of the net. Likely the most poised, refined goaltender of the group, the fact that Edquist’s commitment to Minnesota as a Bantam came as a surprise to so few is a testament to not only his potential, but also how terrific of a goaltender the Shattuck-St. Mary’s stopper is right now. Suffice it to say, the Gopher recruit is likely the top committed goaltender in the country right now – but is he a fit for the program? At his size and elite talent level, he doesn’t seem to fit the mold of a goaltender who would benefit from the NTDP as much as some of the others in the group.
98 G Joseph Woll – St. Louis Blues AAA U16 – Harvard
The 6’2 new Crimson recruit was our top goaltender at the Tier 1 playoffs a few weeks ago and is a hell of a stopper. For a well-framed prospect his age, Woll has nice body control and looks huge in the crease. His reflexes and a sharp glove hand spell success – could be an ideal NTDP goaltender that they could help refine further into a serious pro prospect in a few years.
98 G Jake Oettinger – Lakeville North
Oettinger put himself on the radar in a big way over the past two seasons. Coming out of Bantams with Farmington, he was picked up by a WHL team, and advanced to high school, manning the crease for his Panthers that reached the final game of the season, losing to well-oiled machine Edina. That 8-2 loss isn’t the best note to head towards NTDP camp on, but the composure and skill that the 6’3 stopper displayed through overtime periods and high pressure games over and over have plenty of scouts sold regardless. Seems like a great fit for the NTDP.
98 G Dayton Rasmussen – Holy Family Catholic – OTB #1 Uncommitted Goaltender
The late 1998 hasn’t played a ton in high school yet, behind an experienced goaltender the past two seasons, but he seems to have the highest upside of any goaltender we’ve seen. Ideally-framed at 6’1 and takes up a lot of net, and very athletic for his age. MN Blades prospect could be a home-run for the NTDP if they can help fashion Rasmussen’s potential into a first-round pick in 2017.
98 G Mike Latorella – Honeybaked U18
98 G Stephen Dillon – Buffalo Regals U15
Notable Omissions: Jake Acton, Nick Sorgio, Cole Weaver, Tommy Mohs, Tyler Johnson