Select 70 Uncommitted Prospects Ranking, October 2014
Published October 15, 2014
Here is our latest ranking of uncommitted college hockey prospects. This particular list is the conclusion of our time in the rink following Select 15 camp in New York this summer, numerous summer tournaments, and checking in on the major AAA hockey circuits (HPHL, Tier 1, NAPHL) as well as independent teams, the Minnesota High School Elite League as well as the BCHL Showcase and USHL Atlantic Challenge. The USHL as a league is not covered in it’s entirety while the BCHL is. For a more in-depth primer on what goes into this ranking, see our February 2014 edition. All individual photos when not connected to a social media form are taken by Steve Demeo Photography, used with purchased media rights permission. To see the players who were ranked by us and either signed CHL or committed to a Division 1 program, look at our Select 70 Graduates page. Our OTB Elite service tracks players and updates the rankings monthly for subscribers at www.OTBElite.com.
To reiterate one point: we do not factor in a player’s interest in the CHL route into this ranking at all. That said, the ranking is entirely based on their projections for the college game. There are a number of legitimate NHL prospects on this list, but for our purposes they are ranked for college. Therefore, a thoroughbred star such as Auston Matthews is likely going to be a great pro, and with that is our #1 uncommitted prospect as well, but further down the rank, particularly the 1999s we have ranked lower down the list are further away from the players they are going to be come time for their draft and are only given the credit for college. A few prospects were at one point slated to be in this ranking but made their college decisions prior to release over the fall. They are:
98 F Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie), 95 F Tom Marchin (Brown), 96 D Will Borgen (St. Cloud), 97 F Luke Stevens (Yale), 97 F Henry Bowlby (St. Lawrence), 96 F Liam Blackburn (New Hampshire), 97 D Ryan Shea (Northeastern), 97 F Michael Graham (UMD), 99 F Cole Coskey (Miami)
We also usually have an extended limited viewings list. We’ve stopped doing that for now as we have reports on the players who were staples of that feature now ranked, such as Matthews, Jones, Jost, and more. We only have a handful of limited viewings this time around, slated towards those who were tough to track down or injured. One team we know is talented but don’t have an excellent read on is Team Wisconsin’s U16 outfit, and we may be accidentally snubbing some of their prospects in the short-term.
The team had been asked to also use Goji cream in order to reverse the damage that is done by over exposure to the sun that is most prominent to athletes who play outdoors. The formulation is recommended only because it is a cent percent natural with ingredients that are used every day in the kitchen like cloves and other herbs. Since there is no chemical in the cream it is safe for the athletes and it is also effective in warding away the harmful effects of the U-V radiation of the sun. more on this can be read at https://szepseg-egeszseg.com/goji-krem/
Reports in this edition of the ranking have included contributions from our national scouting staff, including Mark Bilotta (New England), Dan Johnson (Minnesota), Jeff McCarthy (British Columbia) and Gunnar Olson (Midwest), while almost all cross-over review has been done by Jasper Kozak-Miller, who compiled this list. Below is our limited viewing list:
LV: 97 D Jake Massie (Kimball Union), 95 D Clint Lewis (Sioux Falls), RJ Murphy (St. Sebastian’s), 99 D Jack Millar (Buffalo Regals U16), 97 F Ryan Steele (Holderness), 99 D Anthony DeMeo, 99 F Marc McLaughlin (Cushing Academy), 98 D Egan Wolford (San Jose Jr. Sharks U16), 98 F Drew Pflug (Omaha AAA U16), 98 F Paul Washe (Victory Honda U16), 98 D John Stampohar (Grand Rapids), 97 D Richie Roche (Walpole Express)
Over The Boards Select 70 Uncommitted Prospects
1. 97 F Auston Matthews – NTDP U18 (USHL) – 6’2 – 194
Arizona native Auston Matthews is making some noise at the U.S junior camps. Get to know him: http://t.co/627QYXtOiy pic.twitter.com/P7R1oNIu1n
— NHL (@NHL) August 7, 2014
Matthews, a strong, tall, fluid-skating center, appears to be far-and-away the best pure athlete on our ranking. As a late-1997, that explosive upside has become more than evident to observers from the NHL, to media-types, fans, junior league scouts and the whole nine yards. That said, this past season appears to have been a wild ride for USA’s pre-eminent 2016 draft prospect. It began with Matthews sustaining a lower body injury in the 2nd game of his season (as a U17) that saw him held out three months. It didn’t take long for the cousin of former NFLer Wes Matthews to burst onto the scene in the second half of the season and finish that injury-shortened season with twenty-seven games played for the NTDP’s 18 team. The resurgent effort culminated with a 7 point, 5-goal performance at World U18s, third only to Jack Eichel and Sonny Milano. All as an underager.
An elite athlete who would still likely be making strides towards a professional career had he dedicated himself to any of the other major North American pro sports, Matthews is smooth and powerful, able to separate from the pack with an effortless push and maneuver the puck through the zone with a pro-style of puck-handling that minimizes inefficiency and maintains velocity. He seems to lean towards carrying the puck around the zone for stretches and swinging back to the high slot before re-entering the harder areas at the junior level. His speed and explosiveness make him a wraith on the puck who slips right through what would, for most, be body-on-body contact to the net. Matthews’ quick hands allow him to leverage his ability to get to most areas of the ice and subsequently make a play in those tight areas. The Everett Silvertips own his rights in the WHL. We do not anticipate anyone knocking Matthews off our top position for a while.
2. 98 F Max Jones – NTDP U17 (USHL) – 6’2 – 189
.@Jones_Max19 at the first @usantdp U17 team practice today. Full gallery coming soon. pic.twitter.com/5BjQ1qYtdI
— MiHockey (@MiHockeyNow) August 27, 2014
Jones, a 1st-round selection by the OHL’s London Knights last spring, is a well-framed forward who plays the game with a tenacious edge. Plays extremely hard, and that relentless play makes him that much more dangerous when it is combined with his wicked shot and strong skating ability. He projects extremely well for the college game with an undeniable offensive upside, though he projects even better for the professional game, as he is sizable, powerful and tough to play against. In short, a force. Jones has visited top NCAA powers but is such a top-end talent that the OHL will never be out of the picture for the brother of Plymouth defenseman Mitch Jones. If he continues to project as well as he does now, an NHL team may spend a top pick in 2016 to get him in the line-up as soon as possible.
3. 99 D Max Gildon – Dallas Stars Elite U16 (TX) – 6’3 – 173
After tracking the 99s all season and heading to NY, not much doubt left for us: D Max Gildon is our top prospect. pic.twitter.com/Bw2KjtHTyD
— Over The Boards (@OTBPuckWatch) July 20, 2014
Gildon appears to be Texas’ (and USA Hockey’s) next star in the making. An elite, fluid defenseman, Gildon is slick with the puck and brings confidence beyond his years. Smart and processes the game quickly, reading and jumping the play when appropriate. Strong on his skates, efficient, mobile with a powerful stride and not easy to play against, very quick at moving the puck on and a natural quarterback at the point, though he isn’t a flashy, dangling skater. Effective on every shift and dictates the tempo – slows the game down at will. He is our top 1999 prospect in the country – fluid, strong skating ability, analyzes the play as it develops keenly and uses his athletic gifts and hockey mind to put himself in a position to be successful at all times. His anticipation is high-end and he has taken his game to another level this season, his second in U16 hockey, a dominant two-way figure on the back-end.
4. 98 F Tyson Jost – Penticton Vees (BCHL) – 6’0 – 195
Everett Silvertips 2013 first round pick Tyson Jost in an exhibition game today in Penticton pic.twitter.com/g4Obsh3q1v
— Chris Mast (@MastImages) September 15, 2014
Elite offensive skater who keeps defenders on their toes and observers on the edge of their seats. Excellent with the puck, extremely shifty with outstanding vision and size. Can really wire the puck on command. Top-end anticipation pushes him beyond ‘great’ into a truly elite category. Playing in the BCHL this season, though the WHL’s Everett Silvertips own his rights and will be the likely future benefactor of his talents.
5. 99 F Grant Mismash – Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep (MN) – 6’0 – 172
@GMISH16 #Shattuck pic.twitter.com/igHprxTgG1
— David Romuald (@Romuald_Images) October 10, 2014
Mismash does it all – an offensive force who can rifle the puck with accuracy and power, finishes hard checks, and throws zipped passes, aerial or flat on the ice, onto tape with regularity. All of that comes with a vicious, icy edge that makes you cringe for anyone who enters a battle with the multi-faceted forward from Edina. There is a massive long-term upside with Mismash in that he has such explosive tools right now at only 15 years old. One of the better prospects in a deep group of players from Minnesota, Mismash posted 96 points in 65 games on Shattuck’s National Championship-winning bantam team last year, including 48 goals (and an even 48 assists). His recruitment will be an interesting process as Red Deer, who own his rights (alongside schoolmate Austin Pratt’s rights), were just awarded the Memorial Cup in 2016. The Mem Cup is one of the most scouted events in the world and would provide both Mismash and Pratt a prime opportunity to make some noise heading into what will likely be an NHL draft year of some importance to them.
6. 98 D Chad Krys – NTDP U17 (USHL) – 5’11 – 182
Top rated player for the QMJHL draft..@chadkrys & @NJRocketsJunior #creamofthecrop pic.twitter.com/dVJsPIjoda
— Elite Hockey Group (@EHGdevelopment) December 23, 2013
The latest New Jersey Rocket to make noise at the national level may very well be the best of them all, a super skilled defenseman with high-end skating ability that can find the smallest of windows to shoot through or lanes to exploit. Orchestrates the assault with mastery. The son of former BU captain Mark Krys played loose, dynamic, opportunistic hockey for the Rockets U19 team last season as a 15-year-old, is now adjusting his game to the junior level with the NTDP and finding his way. Has some Erik Karlsson in his ability to shrug opposing skaters off leading the rush and jump-start the offensive attack at will, but fellow CT-native Kevin Shattenkirk is a closer long-term projection. While BU or BC have been ruled by Krys himself as the likely landing spots, there are high profile opportunities all over Division 1 that may be even a better fit than what Comm Ave’s collectively crowded blue lines would be able to offer an offensive contributor of Krys’ caliber for a 2016 arrival.
7. 98 D Dante Fabbro – Penticton Vees (BCHL) – 6’1 – 185
Shout out to Coquitlam B.C.’s Dante Fabbro (@17Fabbro) #BWC @HockeyNow #nextlevel pic.twitter.com/mPweefebdN
— Pro4 Sports (@Pro4Sports) July 9, 2013
A top-end skating defenseman from British Columbia who thinks the game at a high level and has the requisite skill to capitalize on his understanding. His frame and positional nature as a right shot defenseman who can quickly release accurate lasers from the point would make him a highly valuable add to any d-corps in Division 1, though the Seattle Thunderbirds, who selected him 8th overall in 2013, are likely expecting him to join their back-end in the near future.
8. 99 D Josh Maniscalco – Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep (MN) – 6’0 – 189
99 D Josh Manisalco (@ShattuckStMarys Prep) commits to Minnesota. 6’0 D with a mountain of upside. Our #8-ranked uncommitted. H/T @JDetmer22
— Over The Boards (@OTBPuckWatch) October 26, 2014
@jmani_18 #Shattuck pic.twitter.com/CN0KYxyvdF
— David Romuald (@Romuald_Images) October 10, 2014
Very athletic defenseman with a serious upside. Possesses a big time heavy shot at the blue, shoots right and should be a consistent look there down the line. He’ll crush the opposing team off the puck, with the mobility and timing to make an impact when he lines it up. Started off the season at 5’11, 163 last year, now listed at 6’0, 189, and absolutely no fun to be on the ice against in any zone. As far as a long-term projection goes, we think he compares favorably to key Gopher recruit Ryan Lindgren (1998), who is with the NTDP this season.
9. 98 F Pat Khodorenko – NTDP U17 (USHL) – 5’11 – 204
Natural playmaker with rare skill and ability with the puck. A strong-skating, sharp shooter who wants to create high-quality chances but will bury when the opportunity presents itself. Sells his fakes well and makes high-percentage plays at top speed. His Honeybaked team last year was a great fit – one of the more elite, skill teams in the world – and allowed his gifts to shine. Khodorenko has had a few years of learning how to use his extremely talented teammates to their full potential and should thrive with an even higher caliber of skill around him in Ann Arbor this year. Youngest skater on the NTDP’s U17s this season.
10. 97 D Jacob Bryson – Loomis-Chaffee School (CT) – 5’9 – 174
Proud and excited to announce my commitment to play college hockey for Providence. Huge thanks to everyone helping along the way #GoFriars
— jacob (@JBrysoN_18) October 19, 2014
An archetypal puck-moving, highly mobile defender who is undersized but catching a lot of attention with the Neponset Valley River Rats U18s this winter. Bryson’s first pass out of the zone comes with authority and hits it’s target on the tape. Despite being only 5’9 he maintains a low leverage that allows him to dominate larger (and older) players. Overall, his game was very quiet when we caught the London, Ontario native after playing a good number of games the week leading up to it. Very calm in all situations, doesn’t panic when the zone is under attack and executes the play. His shooting is deceptive in nature and helps to project him as a weapon in the point at the Division 1 level.
11. 99 F Brady Tkachuk – St. Louis AAA Blues U16 (MO) – 5’9 – 155
Brings a high level of skill and speed, with dynamic and consistent play, the son of long-time NHLer and former BU Terrier Keith Tkachuk has a good release on his shot and can finish his chances. As a bantam, Tkachuk broke loose of defenders regularly and did a great job of masking his intent with the puck. At the U16 level this year, he finds a way to drag so much attention to himself at times that all he has to do is pull a defender in and float a pass into space for one of his linemates to capitalize. All-around a strong prospect who seems dialed-in to the action every time we catch him. If the cutoff date stays the same, the September 16th birthday means he’s going to be the oldest first-year eligible in the 2018 draft. Brother Matt Tkachuk is a star Notre Dame recruit with the NTDP this season.
12. 97 D Caleb Jones – NTDP U18 (USHL) – 6’0 – 194
The younger brother of Nashville Predator Seth Jones added a lot of weight to a now-6’0 frame and improved in a lot of facets of his game, even though he was already well-rounded. Getting tougher to play against and continues to make a lot of good looks. Pretty reliable in his own end and led the rush a few times at the USHL Atlantic Challenge, activating with varying effectiveness. Really nice awareness in his own end and work ethic.
13. 98 D James Greenway – NTDP U17 (USHL) – 6’4 – 204
Enormous defender with great potential, brother of BU recruit and 2015 draft eligible Jordan Greenway, who was a key staple of this ranking for a time as well. Very effective in the defensive-zone and along the rail, deceptively good skating ability and lateral work that allows him to maintain gaps well and betrays a professional ceiling to his game. As his decisions become quicker and his game continues to come together, he may emerge as a true two-way force. There’s a thin line between being engaged around the ice as a 6’4 defender and compromising one’s positioning, and that line looks as though it will continue to be toed for a ways yet.
14. 99 D Thomas Miller – Victory Honda U18 (MI) – 6’2 – 170
Tall, somewhat lanky, right-shot D with mobility and quickness. That’s a lot of upside in one sentence and sums up a lot of what Miller brings to the table. An evident athlete who plays dialed-in and likes to get up into the play, can unleash a heavy wrist shot towards the cage and quarterback the powerplay with some effectiveness. Really refreshing body control, defensive-zone play and overall concentration for a young player of his stature.
15. 99 D Connor Mayer – Benilde-St. Margaret’s (MN) – 5’10 – 155
Excited to announce my commitment to play college hockey at the University of Connecticut! Thanks to everyone that helped me sofar #Huskies
— sheepdog mayer (@cmayer_99) November 27, 2014
The former Benilde junior varsity squad member this past season may be the player who has most glaringly found his game (and confidence) over the past nine months out of his entire age group. He’s more out of the Luke McInnis (BC) or Jake Ryczek (UNH) mold than he is the next Chad Krys or future Benilde teammate Ben Newhouse (Union) – that is to say, Mayer can play, but it’s his body of work that ends up impressing more than any one dominating shift on the puck we would reference.
He plays with great pace and processes the game quickly to maintain being effective when the tempo picks up a few notches, but for a guy with those faculties, he battles and will go to war on the walls if necessary. Zips his outlets quick and clean, very accurate and some of his seeing-eye looks are very heady. Keeps a solid gap that should get better with his excellent skating tools and owns an active stick that he defends with often, doesn’t give up too much, and to boot can skate to contain pretty well. His wrist shot, too, is a weapon. It comes off the blade not unlike his passes – quick and accurate – often to dangerous areas. Playing with more confidence than nearly all of the “more highly-touted” prospects we have seen lately. Will look for him to continue to add awareness in all three zones and size, already has a slightly explosive push-off to his first step that should only become more pronounced as he develops.
16. 99 D Ben Mirageas – Avon Old Farms (CT) – 5’10 – 160
Mirageas is a purposeful, mobile, quick defenseman who shines in all three zones. He’s assertive and sound defensively, but he can pass the puck nearly any distance up the ice and find his mark pretty well, as well as man the point with the best of them right now. His shot at the point is blistering and if there’s no look, he’s got the ability to make a dangerous, poised play with his feet, stick, or both. At times he plays a less offensive game and relies on his ability to be a rock defensively, his success playing that style leads us to believe he will be more of a two-way defenseman than some of the offensive catalysts we have ranked on the back-end today.
17. 99 F Evan Barratt – Team Comcast U16 (PA) – 6’0 – 174
Between the AYHL and USPHL U16 circuits this season, Barratt has 53 points in 16 games – playing up a year. Incisive, offensively-mature forward is a nice skater and very sharp in the final third. Moves off the puck purposefully and owns a sharp release that makes him very dangerous. A little lanky for his frame but has real quickness breaking in and makes himself both unpredictable and tough to contain. Great hand-eye and athleticism that help him to be great and bodes well down the line.
Barratt only further convinced us in Nationals at Green Bay and Select 15 camp in NY this summer of his high-end ability. He’s still a little bit raw but in all the areas that can be worked on, skating could get a higher top speed and be more economical, he’s got good burst to him and with his frame, as he comes into his body he only gets better. His passing is well-polished and he is an assertive player offensively because he’s dangerous with the puck and not afraid to rub someone out of a puck battle. Constantly seemed to be open in NY and very impressive overall.
18. 99 F Alex Chmelevski – Honeybaked U16 (MI) – 5’10 – 165
Chmelevski thinks the game at an elite speed and has the offensive faculties to execute – a deadly combination. Extremely skilled, gifted with the puck and that high-level anticipation that scouts love to see. Zips pucks around with purpose and plays a measured game. He and Vanya Lodnia compliment each other well, both are very dangerous in tandem. Both will be top considerations for the OHL draft in 2015.
19. 99 D Sean Keohan – Dexter School (MA) – 5’11 – 170
Good-sized defenseman with elite vision and poise. Passing and rushing ability in spades. Stands his ground in his own end and can be an assertive force on the game with his ability to hide his intent and make plays up ice.
In New York, he was smooth, calm and very mobile, jumping up when it made sense and making plus plays all over the ice. He’s sound and reliable, and he makes some very, very nice plays.
20. 97 F Walker Duehr – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) – 6’2 – 190
We caught Duehr at the mid-point of last season and noted the upside, but as he continued to add weight and improve in the offensive zone, he started to realize that potential. Big skater is on the raw side but tough to contain, Duehr can play with a frenetic intensity that disrupts the flow of the opponents attack and can really rip it, too. Teammate James Sanchez (Michigan) has been a top power forward target for 2016 for a little while – but Duehr, a 2016 draft eligible, could be even better by then if he continues to improve at his recent pace.
21. 99 F Baron Thompson – Omaha AAA U16 (NE) – 6’4 – 225
Very excited to announce my commitment to play college hockey at the University of Maine #GoBlackBears
— Baron Thompson (@bubbathompsom36) November 25, 2014
Not only does he have a massive frame at 15 years old, his skillset and tenacious style of play gets noticed. An excellent shot with a quick and accurate release can fool goaltenders, and he’s very strong on the puck. Willing and able to take it into areas where many won’t go: fearless, throws the body around and finishes wince-worthy checks – hard. Great first three steps for someone his frame, and the mean streak is definitely there. Has consistently played well at AAA for Omaha this fall, this summer at Victoria Royals camp, this summer at Select 15s (NY) as well as this past spring for Omaha at Nationals.
22. 99 D Reilly Walsh – Proctor Academy (NH) – 5’9 – 160
Walsh gets it done on both sides of the red line. Defensively, he keeps things simple and adds a few big hits for emphasis: don’t enter his space. Offensively, he’s slick with the puck and has serious puck competence. His slap shot can do some damage as well. Just so solid and skilled in a patient manner; Walsh clearly has vision and will activate, but plays measured hockey, wins battles, then creates a play for someone else to move on. Trails the play well on the rush to be a factor but not get caught up ice.
23. 99 F Kyle MacLean – NJ Rockets U19 (NJ) – 5’10 – 145
Proud to announce my commitment to play hockey at Northeastern University. Thank you to all my family & friends who have supported me.
— Kyle MacLean (@kylemac9191) October 28, 2014
The brother of NHL draft prospect JC MacLean (Austin Bruins) and son of long-time New Jersey Devil John MacLean is coming into his own with the Rockets this season. At 5’10, MacLean rides the thin, fiery line of aggressive, relentless offensive play without finding himself in the box too often. A former Carolina Jr. Hurricane, Maclean’s athleticism manifests in speed, quick decisions and hand-eye, while the ranginess to his frame and ability to read the play, capitalize indicate he is going to be a hell of a player as it all comes together.
24. 99 F Baker Shore – Colorado Thunderbirds U16 (CO) – 5’9 – 160
Colorado’s “first family of hockey” has another prospect coming up. The fourth and youngest Shore brother (Denver) has elite hockey sense and playmaking ability. High-end offensive awareness with good speed and finishing ability, Shore’s poise on the puck and ability to create are exciting. As a bantam, Shore was effective at manipulating open spaces to create opportunities for teammates, while playing on a line with high tempo Ben Lown and hard-nosed Phillip Knies this season has created an interesting dynamic where Shore can lurk and contribute sharp plays in the wake of their engagement all over the zone.
25. 99 F Vanya Lodnia – Honeybaked U16 (MI) – 5’10 – 160
A sensational talent who earns his keep in the offensive zone. No skater in the age group that we’ve seen plays the wide-open, east-west style that Lodnia does quite as well. Dictates the flow of the game with his ability to slow it down at will and seek out a gap defensively or find a teammate to pass to. Attacks in sequences with flashy moves, toying with defenders and showcasing his talents. A dynamic offensive threat who has stellar chemistry alongside teammate Alex Chmelevski.
26. 99 F Cam Burke – Noble and Greenough School (MA) – 5’8 – 155
Congratulations to my younger brother Cam on his commitment to Notre Dame. Can’t wait to be reunited on the ice with him #GoIrish
— Cal Burke (@calburke10) December 18, 2014
The younger brother of Notre Dame recruit Cal Burke is constantly involved in the action, creates a lot of opportunities with his passing ability. Battles smart in the tougher areas and positions his body well to recover the puck in contested situations. Seems to have a pull-away quality, second gear to his speed that appears in quick acceleration and good overall speed. A playmaker for Nobles who should play a big role this season, could be a big coup in the making for the Irish if they can land both of Nobles’ Burke brothers.
27. 99 F Austin Pratt – Shattuck-St. Mary’s U16 (MN) – 6’2 – 215
A key member of Shattuck’s national championship bantam outfit last season, Pratt continues to smoothen out his game and play to his strengths: of which there are many. He has one of the hardest shots in the age group and can play a power forward game protecting the puck using only the necessary puck-handles and not much more to make his plays. Does a good job staying in motion offensively and can play a beast-mode style game to just bull around the ice. Red Deer own Pratt’s WHL rights.
28. 98 D Michael Campoli – NTDP U17 (USHL) – 6’2 – 195
Big defenseman from Quebec had been a little out of our range last season playing for the well-known Lac St. Louis program, so we don’t have the best read from a weekend where the NTDP took it to Elite League competition and did not have to defend much. Campoli appears to be in the defensive defenseman build with a very high upside, a big skater with great body control and an active stick.
29. 98 D Myles Cunningham – Breck School (MN) – 6’1 – 180
The Everett Silvertips swooped up the WHL rights to unprotected 1998s Myles Cunningham and new Gopher recruit Casey Mittelstadt last month, and though he wasn’t the more high-profile of the two at the time, that may not last for long. From 5’8, 136 lbs in 2012, Cunningham has exploded in size and with that carries an explosive ceiling, a tall, powerful, mobile skater with strong footwork and rushing ability.
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30. 98 D Callan Foote – Colorado Thunderbirds U16 (CO) – 6’2 – 180
The son of NHLer Adam Foote is weeks away from being a 1999 and that thought is scary. The tall, athletic defenseman was consistently one of the best skaters on either team as an underager at the Tier 1 U16 playoffs last year, whether it was using his quick feet and skating ability to get into position to pick apart plays defensively or moving the puck up to a breaking out forward. Reads the play as it develops extremely well and quickly glides into position to negate clear attempts and restart the offense. Isn’t an elite powerplay quarterback defenseman, but a two-way defender with upside in most facets of his game who has continued to excel this season. WHL rights are owned by Kelowna, who selected him in the second round in last summer’s Bantam Draft.
31. 99 D Jack Rathbone – Dexter School (MA) – 5’8 – 145
Pound-for-pound, with the commitment of David Farrance, there may not be a more offensively gifted defenseman in his age group – let alone on our list, save Chad Krys. Rathbone is one of a number of New England area 1999-born defensemen who can take over the offensive zone and could shoot up our list as he continues to prove detractors of his size wrong. However you want to play it: Rathbone can probably pull it off. An excellent skater with an offensive flair to his game, he is able to catch up when he is behind the play and leave trailers behind when he’s on the attack. Capable of coast-to-coast goal scoring, he surveys his options well and executes on the system he plays in. Nice release on his shot, really mobile and shifty, has an unpredictable weaving-style of puck-rushing and is a killer within six feet on either side of the offensive blue line.
32. 98 F Austen Long – Omaha AAA U16 (NE) – 5’10 – 192
A forceful, powerful forward who holds his ground in deep and has offensive tools to spare. One of the numerous threats up front for this Omaha team, effective in tight with good speed and natural scoring tools.
33. 98 F John Wojciechowski – NJ Rockets U19 (NJ) – 6’4 – 207
Another New Jersey Rocket with an enormous ceiling, the former NY Apple Core product has a ton of development ahead of him but could turn into one of the best middle-six forces in the age group when all is said and done. Shows excellent instincts with his short passing and timing, for someone with an almost-awkwardly-big frame, he is not only a deceptively smooth skater but is resourceful with his decisions and seems to have a touch on the puck as well.
34. 98 F Keeghan Howdeshell – NTDP U17 (USHL) – 6’0 – 192
Honored to commit to ferris state university! very excited to be apart of ferris organization! #godogs
— Keeghan howdeshell (@Howdeshell45) November 26, 2014
Great size and leverages his body well to protect the puck, it’s tough to bet against a player like Howdeshell who has the upside to be a big contributor at both ends of the ice and will be spending the next two years in Ann Arbor.
35. 98 F Max Gerlach – Colorado Thunderbirds U16 (CO) – 5’9 – 155
Medicine Hat’s 6th-round pick in the Bantam Draft last year may be on the smaller end of the spectrum, but the Texas native is a cerebral, high tempo scorer who leads a very talented Thunderbirds team in scoring. Always seems to be around the action offensively, very natural at finding windows to score and placing or creating his chances.
36. 98 F Jagger Williamson – Vernon Vipers (BCHL) – 5’7 – 162
Excellent puck skills, an extremely shifty player with great hands who plays big minutes on the first line with the Vipers. Has a great knack for finding players but also has excellent feet right out of the gate. Isn’t afraid to battle but tends to sneak around the net to find his chances. Plays a flashy game with his head up.
37. 97 F Colton Kehler – Cowichan Valley Capitals (BCHL) – 5’11 – 165
Excited to announce my commitment with Clarkson University! Thank you to everyone who has got me this far. Can’t wait to be a Golden Knight!
— Colton Kehler (@EightCkehler) November 24, 2014
Has consistently gotten better every single year, his awareness on the ice gets him in the proper position to make the play, his pure ability to make plays is a sight to see. Smooth skater who has an elusive side to his game that makes him extremely deceptive, with excellent in-game IQ.
38. 98 F Collin Adams – Honeybaked U16 (MI) – 5’10 – 175
Adams, the HPHL’s leading scorer, is playing with a ton of confidence and brings a lot to the table. An effective, hard-to-play-against forechecker with good feet and a nice top speed. Adjusts his routes with efficiency and always seems to be doing good things to advance the offense and prolong the assault, finishing his chances at times and creating something out of nothing as well. Has stepped up as the key offensive cog for Honeybaked with the absence of Michael Pastujov (Michigan) to injury up front.
39. 98 F Josh Dunne – St. Louis AAA Blues U18 (MO) – 6’1 – 150
Has steadily emerged as another nice prospect from the Blues program. For a December-born 1998 standing at 6’1, Dunne plays with an edge, has terrific body control and first-step speed. Looks to create time and space for his teammates and doesn’t fool around with the puck.
40. 98 F Nico Blachman – Omaha AAA U16 (NE) – 6’2 – 194
Proud to announce my commitment to play Division 1 hockey at Lake Superior State University #GoLakers
— Nico Blachman (@NBlachman24) October 16, 2014
The former Shattuck-St. Mary’s skater from Florida found his way to a new-look Omaha U16 team this season and is an excellent compliment to their offense with good size, physical play and scoring ability.
41. 99 F Charlie Dovorany – Shattuck-St. Mary’s U16 (MN) – 5’9 – 142 (Ht/Wt out of date)
Crafty, smooth-skating forward with great work ethic and sharp play all around the offensive zone. Skilled playmaker from Wausau, WI is one of the top forwards on a talented Shattuck-St. Mary’s U16 team and leads the team in assists with 16 through 11 games, of which all but two have been wins.
42. 98 F Ben Lown – Colorado Thunderbirds U16 (CO) – 5’7 – 150
Proud to announce my commitment to play D1 hockey at Miami University. Thank you to everyone who has helped me. #Redhawks #Brotherhood
— Ben Lown (@BenLown) October 29, 2014
Diminutive, compact skater from Newport Coast, CA by way of Shattuck-St. Mary’s last year defines dynamic. Uses bursts of speed to create separation and disarm defenders, constant motor and processes the game very quickly. Clinical around the net and pushes the pace of the game.
43. 97 F Alec Mehr – Bloomington Thunder (USHL) – 5’11 – 193
A Californian product who went out East to play prep last year, Mehr’s game seems to have matured for it A fluid skater who loves the puck, possesses a great release and offensive instincts that could see him tally 15-20 goals per season in the NCAA one day. USHL rights owned by Bloomington, WHL by Everett, two teams that are owned by the same group. Mehr would likely be higher on our list but we are still going off of last year’s viewings at the Gunnery as we do not heavily scout the USHL right now.
44. 97 D Jordan Ernst – Chicago Mission U18 (IL) – Ht/Wt Not Rostered
Honored to announce my commitment to Bowling Green State University! Thankyou to everyone who helped make this dream a reality. Go Falcons!
— Jordan Ernst (@Jernst13) November 14, 2014
Good-sized left shot defenseman may be a sleeper look for the NHL draft this year after playing Illinois high school hockey last season. A raw talent with great offensive tools, zips hard passes and shots to dangerous areas, decisive on pucks with good awareness. Possesses a bomb of a slap shot at the point with above-average skating ability and alarming accuracy to go with strong shot selection. Should round out his defensive game having to defend at a higher level in the HPHL this season.
45. 98 F Jack Badini – NJ Avalanche U18 (NJ) – 5’11 – 180
Two hundred foot player, Badini has vision with the puck and makes a lot of plays. Instinctive and sharp offensively, rips dangerous shots towards the twine. Unselfish with the puck when a play is to be made and has an enticing build. Isn’t going to blow you away every shift, but his game grows on you.
46. 98 F Tim Clifton – NJ Rockets (EHL) – 5’11 – 175
Resourceful, relentless forward with great speed, Clifton really picks up with the puck on his stick and is a very positive contributor on a consistent basis in the EHL this season.
47. 98 F Grant Cruikshank – Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U16 (WI) – 5’9 – 175
Very proud and honored to announce my commitment to play college hockey for Wisconsin. Thank you everyone who has supported me! #gobadgers
— Grant Cruikshank (@GCruikshank) December 6, 2014
Off-the-charts speed, easily the fastest skater off the mark on our list and just overall one of the best skaters, technique-wise, that we’ve ever seen. Goes hard on the forecheck and looks to force a bad decision off the puck, and his game is entirely grounded in his ability to get to certain areas of the ice before anyone else – but he is simultaneously opportunistic and with the smarts to keep the game in front of him and control his speed. Very dangerous shot that he can place quickly, all the more a threat with his elusive nature enhancing the shot quality/location.
48. 98 F Ben Meyers – Delano High School (MN) – 5’9 – 189
A three-sport varsity athlete for Delano, Meyers, just a sophomore this year, plays with a lot of skill and is a dynamic playmaker at full stride. Very slippery and effective – a joy to watch who should only get better on the ice in the coming years when he isn’t busy rushing thirty yards a game as the starting fullback every weekend for Delano’s football team. A testament to the value of sticking with other sports, Meyers also plays baseball and a lot of what makes him successful on the ice are translatable skills from his contrasting sports; such as the ability to play through contact (football) and requisite hand-eye (baseball) that helps him to excel in broken plays as well as within the face-off dot.
49. 98 F Evan Wisocky – NJ Avalanche U18 (NJ) – 5’11 – 175
Poised, measured scorer here who can play to match the game’s tempo and rifles pucks at the net. Solid making plays off the wall and when he moved down to play with the U16s in the 2nd half of the Atlantic Challenge, his talents were evident. Dart of a shot, nice skating ability. Reportedly was the best player on the ice this past weekend with dominant showings.
50. 99 F Isaac Johnson – Anoka High School (MN) – 6’0 – 160
Strong skater with legit size and a good skill level, gets to full speed quickly and uses speed, quickness, a heavy shot and assertive play to create chances.
51. 99 F Alex Mella – Shattuck-St. Mary’s U16 (MN) – 6’0 – 161
So consistently hard to contain and multi-faceted on the offense because he can pass, rip it, or skate it into a dangerous area with serious velocity. A skilled power forward who is steadily improving and simplifying his game in all three zones.
52. 99 F Ben Copeland – Edina High School (MN) – 5’10 – 150
Right-shot center stands out from shift one due to his speed. Great acceleration allows him to create separation near-instantly and makes a lot of great looks to create, betraying a terrific hockey mind. Slippery throughout all three zones, Copeland makes some terrific plays with the puck at top speed and has a fantastic shot that he can place with little time to shoot. Playing with the MN Blades U16s this winter.
53. 98 D Brian Hurley – St. Thomas Academy (MN) – 6’0 – 185
Proud to announce my commitment to play hockey at The Ohio State University. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way. #BIG10 #GoBuckeyes
— Brian Hurley (@GroceryStick6) November 14, 2014
Another Minnesota Blades U16 product who is showing extremely well this fall. Was a poised, effective young skater on the back-end for St. Thomas last year and is poised to emerge as a top defenseman in the high school circuit this winter. Excellent passer who has a good head for the game and great size, plays within himself well though an offensive confidence and competence is becoming more evident.
54. 98 D Alec Semandel – Chicago Mission U16 (IL) – 6’3 – 188
Last year we suspected Semandel’s big upside was as a shut-down force, though he too is showing an offensive ceiling to hit. Massive defenseman bears down on offensive threats and neutralizes them with above average footspeed and decisive defensive-zone actions. Plays hard and doesn’t give up a chance easy, strong outlet passer who can move the puck with a great frame.
55. 99 D Nate Knoepke – Lakeville South (MN) – 6’2 – 185
Big, smooth defenseman for his size who projects very well as a sophomore. Decisive on pucks and athletic on nature, could continue to find his game as a strong-passing force with vision on the back-end or as a two-way, shut down key member of the d-corps well into even the pro ranks someday. Either way, we love what he brings to the table.
56. 99 D Brian Scoville – Cushing Academy (MA) – 6’1 – 170
He’s a big defenseman who has been a big defenseman for a while now, so there will be questions of whether he has reached a ceiling or is just well-advanced for his age, but his ability to understand defensive-zone play and be tenacious throughout the length of a game is exciting, as is his ability to throw a strong first pass and get up ice. Overall edgework and skating mechanics could improve, but if and when that all comes, it won’t just be Division 1 recruiters calling.
57. 99 F Patrick Smyth – Compuware U16 (MI) – 6’3 – 195
Big, powerful center who is dominant in the hard areas below the goal line. He’s hard to project (only because he’s 15) in some senses in that the Toledo, Ohio native is so forceful and able to clear space that there has to be a point where his peers will close that gap, but his offensive senses and tools in addition to the speed at which he gets up ice all bode very well.
58. 99 F Cooper Haar – Chicago Young Americans U16 (IL) – 6’3 – 185
Haar, like Smyth, is another big power forward who is well-ahead of his peers in the size department but has excellent body control and athleticism for his age and could emerge as a true offensive force at the next level. Great scoring ability at his size with a huge upside.
59. 99 F Steven Agriogianis – NJ Avalanche U16 (NJ) – 5’9 – 155
Very involved offensively, processes the game at a lightning-speed and has a lot of potential as a scorer, playmaker at the college level. Recovers pucks and creates opportunities consistently.
60. 99 F Colton McKenna – Buffalo Regals U16 (NY) – 6’2 – 180
Big forward with great body control and general coordination, McKenna has a high ceiling for a number of roles but we suspect he will be scoring goals for a long time. His poise, ability to sell the 1-on-1 play and chain a sequence of plays together offensively are exciting. His ability to get shots off with velocity while handling at range make his shots tough to track on the release and equally tough to stop.
61. 99 F Tommy Altounian – Chicago Mission U16 (IL) – 6’0 – 180
An athletic power forward with a great reach who finishes his checks, drives the net with results, pays attention to detail on defense and can protect the puck well. Has a lot of little traits that should help him succeed as a power forward at the next level, and sprinkles in some east-west play to compliment his north-south competencies. Good speed and great work ethic.
62. 99 F Cade Robinson – Victory Honda U16 (MI) – 5’10 – 160
One of the youngest players in U16 hockey this year, Robinson is a smaller forward from Belle Tire last season with effective, highly deceptive hands. A prolific threat on the transition with natural passing ability. Surveys the play and uses his speed straight away in tandem with his skill to eat guys alive, sharp hand-eye and good agility that lets him maneuver into dangerous areas with ease.
63. 99 F Liam Walsh – Victory Honda U16 (MI) – 6’0 – 170
Skilled, offensive-minded forward who has grown a bit this season and now has a frame that could become a force. Slick, quick hands and doesn’t force plays – always dangerous. Has some lankiness and his game could arc upward as he comes into his body, but there’s no questioning the talent here and explosiveness to his stride.
64. 99 F Jack Studnicka – Belle Tire U16 (MI) – 5’11 – 145
Looked like he was close to turning a corner and experiencing a growth spurt last season with Compuware and is realizing that upside with Belle Tire this year. The Tecumseh, Ontario native competes on every shift and has a nice feel for the puck that sees him make some very impressive plays. Great vision and solid size, plays with confidence.
65. 97 F JC MacLean – Austin Bruins (NAHL) – 6’2 – 195
Made the jump from the Rockets U19 team to the NAHL this season, MacLean has a game that suits the junior game very well and should translate as a power forward with scoring upside at the collegiate level. Plays with some sandpaper and determination, could improve his foot speed to improve his velocity breaking into the zone. Right now seems to project as a prototypical Cornell recruit, big, strong, offensively more than competent and tough to play against.
66. 96 F Laythe Jadallah – NJ Hitmen Premier (NJ) – 6’1 – 176
Naturally opportunistic, athletic forward with a nice top speed and great offensive instincts, makes a lot of plays, gets to the net and gets pucks to the net. Could explode upward and outward as a player and professional prospect if he can torch the USPHL Premier this year, but consistency may be a question mark.
67. 97 F Mike Montambault – Victory Honda U18 (MI) – 6’4 – 190
The Ann Arbor native strikes us as a skater the NTDP may have wanted to consider, a lanky, big center who doesn’t project as a scoring line center but has some explosion in his stride and plugs away in the hard areas. Could ply his trade as a middle-six forward all the way to the show if he continues to work on his game.
68. 97 F Michael Brown – Groton School (MA) – 6’2 – 181
Rangy power forward with a high ceiling. Should be a focal point of this Groton forward group this year, he isn’t a constant offensive threat but brings a good power game and puck protection – strong on his skates and cuts incisively through the offensive zone. Quick release on his shot that could punish and could really fill out.
69. 98 F Joey Abate – Chicago Mission U16 (IL) – 6’2 – 175
Committed to Wisconsin, 10/20/2014
Quick, smart, involved and skilled. Processes the game very quickly, good with the puck. The Chicago Fury product played with a ton of confidence at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine last month.
70. 98 F Josiah Slavin – Colorado Thunderbirds U16 (CO) – 6’0 – 160
Relentless work ethic on loose pucks, very involved offensively with a frame to grow into. The younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes 4th round pick Jaccob Slavin (Colorado College) has a nice ceiling in the long-term, always seems to be around the puck on a skilled team and hard to ignore, great speed straight-away and desire to make plays.
Just Missed (71-80): Brian Hawkinson (Colorado Thunderbirds U16), Kole Sherwood (Ohio Blue Jackets U18), Matt Gosiewski (Millbrook School), Clayton Phillips (Edina), Jack Vincent (Chicago Mission U16), Kyle Kawamura (TPH Thunder U16), Joshua Norris (Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U16), Sam Huff (Maple Grove), Luke Boka (Victory Honda U16), Anthony DeMeo (NJ Rockets U19 – IR/no recent viewings)