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Spring Report, New Recruits pt. 1: Dhooghe, Frederic, Tufte, Wahlin, Mattson all decide

As we move towards the end of the season, and with it our end-of-season updated Select 70 ranking being released, here’s a look at some of the biggest decisions made in college hockey over the past few weeks.

1. 99 F Sean Dhooghe (#2 Bantam) – Ohio State

Arrival: 2017

What type of player is he? Talented forward from the Chicago Mission, with disarming skating ability and an apparent extra gear, if at a sub-optimal height (listed 5’3).  Dhooghe’s lightning speed is complimented by a sharp hockey mind and no shortage of skill on the puck. The type of player who drives possession and make others better through heady positioning, an ability to create time and space and a capacity to make quick, decisive plays that many can not, we see Dhooghe projecting as an elite playmaker at the Division 1 level.

Chicago Mission Hockey Director Gino Cavallini noted:

Since Dhooghe joined the Mission as a squirt major, “Sean, along with his fellow 1999 birth year teammates, have been one of the most dominant teams in North America. During the last five years he has led this team to a 293-32-14 record while winning virtually every tournament entered including a pair of Silver Stick Championships at Peewee Major and Bantam Major along with a USA Hockey Peewee National Championship and most recently USA Hockey Bantam National Finalist.
[Dhooghe] is a driving force who cannot be contained. He does everything well and it is not often a player of his ilk comes along. His hockey IQ is off the charts and he knows how to take full advantage of his ability. What separates him from his peers is his capacity to make everyone around him better. A great person both on and off the ice.”
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Coverage on Dhooghe over the 2013-14 season: In October, we named Dhooghe the top performer at an HPHL Bantam Major showcase. in Chicago, we wrote “It was clear what Dhooghe could do in Faribault just over a week ago, but we got to see the top uncommitted against a few teams that aren’t the probable #1 in the country and he took it to another level. Uses his high-end hockey sense and breakneck speed to disarm defenders and always seems to be a step ahead of the play. It seemed like every puck that got tossed into open ice was swooped up by a streaking #71 and quickly turned into an opportunity. Wheels around the zone with purpose and has a nice release.”

In January, Dhooghe was our #8 prospect in the country, and highlighted that he may very well end up a Buckeye: “We didn’t expect to have a 1999 within our top ten, let alone one that stands sub-5’5, but Dhooghe’s a special player in our eyes. The younger brother of OSU recruit Jason Dhooghe has a natural feel for the puck and off-the-charts hockey sense, anticipating everything on the sheet and using his quick feet to get where he needs to be before everyone else. Even if he grows to only 5’6, the younger Dhooghe is arguably the fastest, smartest skater in the 1999 age group and tough as nails to boot. If he ends up a Buckeye, it should be viewed as a major coup for the program and the Big Ten. Has 20 points in 12 games, including 11 goals, to lead the HPHL’s Bantam Major division.”

Last month, after taking out the Bantam skaters from our Select 70, we ranked Dhooghe as the #2 Bantam (1999) Prospect in the country: ”The HPHL’s leading scorer owns a 15-15-30 line that highlights his ability to make cerebral plays as well as bury the puck at key times. His speed and toughness put him at a high level, but his hockey sense and the razor-sharp clip at which he processes the game make him elite – even at 5’3, if that’s still his height. Brother Jason (1997) is committed to Ohio State.”

Talented Teammates: Dhooghe may have been the only Mission skater we ranked in our top 25 1999′s this month, but seven of his fellow Mission 1999 products cracked our first look at the top 85 Bantams, and specifically Cole Coskey, an offensively gifted, skilled goalscorer, has really climbed in our eyes this season. A few other teammates, like prolific defensemen Joey Keane and Jackson Decker, or forwards like Tommy Altounian and Graham Slaggert could all make a lot out of a strong 2014-15 campaign and garner a commitment early.

For Dhooghe’s part, he finished the season to lead the HPHL in scoring and alongside a talented roster, found their way to the last game of the season. Even though the season ended up in a win for Shattuck-St. Mary’s, if Dhooghe continues to arc upwards, we can safely suspect Ohio State fans will welcome Dhooghe to campus already well decorated, as he just wins: his Mission ’99 teams have posted an over 90% winning percentage since he’s joined the program. Attracted serious interest from at least half of the Big Ten, and will likely garner an NTDP invite after next season. OHL Draft Eligible in 2015.

2. 98 F Trent Frederic (#5) – Wisconsin

Potential Arrival: 2016

Wisconsin added one of the nation’s top power forward threats and furthered their St. Louis pipeline when pivot Trent Frederic made his decision to commit to the Badgers. Our #5 uncommitted prospect in the country, Frederic’s rise in ability this season has been impressive. Though his upside was evident as a bantam, this season he came ready to show and prove what he could do. Scratching the surface of his eventual skillset and frame, Frederic is bound for the NTDP and could very well emerge as a high-end 2016 NHL draft prospect.

What type of player is he? Honest, two-way center with a 6’2, 180 frame that hasn’t completely filled out and is already very imposing. Tough to contain with athletic, explosive speed, owns a long reach and a wrist shot hard as a bullet that can intimidate a goaltender as effectively as his body checks can wear down opposing skaters. Defensively responsible and attentive, Frederic was selected by Niagara in the 6th round, a pick that is not indicative of his overall skill level and likely places him as less of an OHL flight risk for the Badgers, though with any player this talented, that’s going to be a concern.

The Badgers, having to scramble a bit this season to gather forwards for next year (four forwards for this fall’s class were committed in the first four months of 2014), have been working on tying down a strong nucleus of talent for the fall of 2016 and beyond, and Frederic should be a key part of that group.

Talented Teammates: Frederic’s St. Louis Blues AAA U16 team has seen a number of D1 scholarships already: Luke Martin (Michigan), Joseph Woll (Harvard), Ty Farmer (MSU), and more are to come. While women’s college hockey recruiting isn’t our strong point, teammate Jincy Dunne is one of the more impressive skaters on defense that we’ve seen this year and we assume will be a huge get for whichever D1 program lands her.

3. 98 F Riley Tufte (#10) – Minnesota-Duluth

Potential Arrival: 2016

Minnesota-Duluth has, in the past year, seriously taken care of in-state talent. The fact that Tufte isn’t even the current gem of their 1998 MN forward recruits is less of a slight to Tufte and more of a nod to how stellar the Bulldogs recruiting has been, picking up Jared Bethune, Nick Swaney, Kobe Roth, the aforementioned Joey Anderson, Nick Wolff, Hunter Miska and now Tufte, whose stock has risen about as astronomically as any of the 1998′s in the country.

What type of player is he? The 6’4, 195 lb forward seemed to have his coming out party this season. At Select 15s last spring, he was 6’2 and 12 pounds lighter, displaying finesse and playmaking ability on the puck of a typically much smaller skater. While we got the impression he brought a physical edge to the table, this fall for the MN Blades U16s we noticed a penchant to shy away from the rough stuff in favor of making skill plays and showcasing his vision. Within his age group for the Blades, it became very clear that Tufte was close to really taking his game to the next level.

This sophomore season saw Tufte go from 3 points as a freshman to third in goalscoring (17) on a very good Blaine team. He added 18 assists and the fact that Prince George of the WHL already listed him has to have frustrated many a WHL scout this winter. If Tufte’s developmental curve over the next two years matches what this year did for him – an NTDP camp invite and a Division 1 scholarship – the Bulldogs have an absolute stud coming to campus in 2016. Tufte is said to be heading back to Blaine for another season of high school hockey.

4. 96 F Jake Wahlin (#13) – St. Cloud State

Potential Arrival: 2015

Former UMass recruit Jake Wahlin, the Pioneer Press Minnesota HS player of the year, decommitted from the Minutemen in March and by April, he was headed back to his home state for his college years.

What type of player is he? Wahlin started the year off with a bang. He finished with forty-one goals in just twenty-seven games, though questions regarding quality of competition continued to persist. What he brings for sure is a goalscorer’s tendencies in a 5’9 body that is very fleet of foot. How much of his scoring translates remains to be seen, but the Huskies had 5’10 Kalle Kossila, 5’7 David Morley, 5’10 Joey Benik and 5’7 Jimmy Murray combine for 124 points in 2013-14, including 47 goals; 13 came on the PP and 5 were game-winners. So the precedent has been set for smaller scorers to thrive. Wahlin also isn’t afraid to mix it up; make an enemy on the ice or take a hit to make a play, a trait shared by fellow SCSU recruit and high school rival Mitch Slattery (Hill-Murray).

Wahlin had a solid fall, posting a hat trick on the opening weekend of Elite League play, and finished 4th on Team Northeast in scoring with an 11-10-21 line in 20 games. Just examining his scoring rates this season, like many scorers do, Wahlin catches fire for stretches and then his numbers get a little quieter. For example, he finished the Elite League with no goals in his final five games, and just two in his final ten. Sophomore year, he had ten goals (and seven assists) in his first five high school games of the season. Junior year saw two hat tricks and ten total goals in his first four games, an unsustainable clip that would have seen him tally 60-something goals in 25 games. Instead, he posted a still impressive 39 goals in 25 games, but in the post-season he bowed out with no points in a 2-1 upset loss to Stillwater’s Ponies. Three days before that, he had dropped 7 points on North St. Paul in the quarterfinal in a 10-0 W.

Scouting the Elite League’s Forwards, September 2013:

“Wiry, explosive skater brings a frenzied pace to his game every shift but Wahlin is a lot more effective when he cools down. Doesn’t particularly push the tempo of the game because his play can get so hectic that no one else can read/react to him, which works for and against him at times. Would like to see him focus more on the game and less on getting under the skin of other players as he is the most exciting player to watch out of the group when he is concentrating on creating offense. Whistler of a shot that can really punish. Great hockey sense but tries to do too much with it sometimes, underestimated his competition here.”

You can catch a glimpse of Wahlin’s speed breaking into the zone here. He is wearing #20.

5. 98 F Mitchell Mattson (#17) – North Dakota

Potential Arrival: 2016/2017

The construction of North Dakota’s 2016 (and/or 2017)  class began in full this month as the staff in Grand Forks secured commitments from top Minnesota 1998′s Mitch Mattson and Elk River’s Matt Kiersted.

What type of player is he? Mattson is a case somewhat like Blaine’s Riley Tufte (UMD), in that they’re both big forwards with an offensive ceiling yet to be reached. Tufte possesses more body control and polish, but Mattson is 20 pounds lighter and could come on very strong. He was 6’2, 165 last spring, add one 1 inch and 10 pounds over the last year and he’s at 6’3, 175, where it is becoming clear that Mattson at his full size will be a handful. As he comes along and adds weight, his skill on the puck and general game as a whole continue to arc upwards and North Dakota surely must have recognized what a gem they could have in the Grand Rapids sophomore forward.

Mattson finished the season – his first of high school hockey – with 11 goals and 26 assists, for 37 points in 25 games. 17 of those points came in his last 10 games.

From GRHSHockey.com:

“Grand Rapids head coach John Rothstein showed great confidence in sophomore forward Mitchell Mattson from day one. Mattson, a lanky and talented forward, was put on the point to run the power play in game one of the 2013-14 season. Fast forward to the end of the season and Mattson had scored 11 goals and picked up 39 points. He transformed into an offensive weapon over the course of the season.”

Talented Teammates: The Grand Rapids Thunderhawks team had some real talent this winter. UNO recruit Avery Peterson won Mr. Hockey, goaltender Hunter Shepard won the Frank Brimsek as Minnesota’s top HS goaltender, and forward Jonah Bischoff started to really make some noise as the season went on. Bantam captain Micah Miller and teammate John Stampohar are strong 1998 talents who should make an appearance for the HS team in 2014-15, while 2000 forward Gavin Hain and 1999 Ryker Brazerol are young prospects to watch at forward as well.

Part 2 will come soon, highlighting Denver’s Matthias Emilio Pettersen (2000), Matt Kiersted (1998), Hank Crone (1998) and others.