Saturday, December 23, 2006

The 2010 Recruiting Board

I've tried to be as thorough as possible in creating this list, but given the difficult nature of maintaining a list like this, there are always going to be players that should be on this list that are missing. If you think I have missed a player that should be listed, or have any other comments on the list, please email me at

Committed Forwards

Jaden Schwartz-Notre Dame Prep(Sask.)-Committed to Colorado College-Brother of CC recruit Rylan Schwartz. Extremely talented goal scorer.

Luke Moffatt-NTDP U17-Committed to Michigan-Top US born prospect. Does everything exceptionally well. Would have been number 1 WHL pick if he had chosen that route. Will join NTDP in 2008.

Jason Zucker-NTDP U17-Committed to Denver- Fast forward and great playmaker. Hard shot with great accuracy.

Ryan Walters-Des Moines Bucaneers-Committed to Minnesota-Good size. Excellent around the net. A good finisher.

Dakota Eveland-LA Selects-Committed to Colorado College-Very talented forward. Invited to NTDP tryout.

Jacob Fallon-NTDP U17-Committed to Michigan-Very fast. Able to drive hard to the net.

Colten St. Clair-PF Chang AAA-Committed to Colorado College-Described as "smart player with good quality shot and good speed"

Andrew Sinelli-Honeybaked Midget Minor-Committed to Michigan State- Leading scorer at 2006 Select 14 Festival. From Dexter, Michigan. Talented scorer. Could add more strength.

Zach Lehrke-Cedar Rapids(USHL)-Committed to Minnesota State-Smaller forward with great speed. Leading scorer in Minnesota in 07-08.

Jeff Costello-Catholic Memorial(WI)-Committed to Notre Dame-Excellent playmaker.

Michael Mersch-Team Illinois-Committed to Wisconsin-Power forward with good scoring ability.

Tyler Lapic-New Prague HS(MN HS)-Committed to Wisconsin-Tall forward. Excellent at controlling the puck. Good hands.

Alex Lippincott-Mahoning Valley(NAHL)-Committed to Ohio State-Great at controlling the puck. Good speed.

Bryan Rust-NTDP U17-Committed to Notre Dame-Brother of Michigan recruit Matt Rust. Good skater, hard worker.

T.J. Tynan-Chicago Mission-Committed to Notre Dame-Small, extremely quick forward

David Johnstone-Team NXI-Committed to Michigan State-

Corey Leivermann-Mankato West(MN HS)-Committed to Minnesota State-Hard worker. First player from Mankato to play for MSU.

Jake Slemp-Red Deer Midget-Committed to Alaska-

Uncommitted Forwards

Christian Isackson-St. Thomas Academy(MN HS)-Extremely skilled playmaker. Visited Minnesota.

Tucker Long-St. Louis AAA-Leading scorer at 2008 Select 16 Festival.

Matt Nieto-NTDP U17- Very speedy forward. Good finishing ability. From California.

Brent Darnell-Catholic Central(MI)-Talented center. Good in all facets of the game.

Shane Sooth-Salisbury Prep-

Garrett Ross-Belle Tire U-16- Fast skater with great hands. Knows how to finish and an excellent USA festival.

Greg Lamoureux-3rd round WHL draft pick. Connections to North Dakota.

Adam Knochenmus-Roseau-

Dakotah Collins-Fargo-Moorhead Jets(NAHL)-Good skater. Playing in NAHL this year.

Josef Pontasch-Leading scorer at 2008 Select 17 Festival

Anthony Hamburg-LA Selects-Brother of Colorado College recruit Andrew Hamburg

Kyle Cook-Compuware-Very big forward with good scoring ability.

Rocco Grimaldi-Little Caesar's '92-1993 birthdate. Considered one of the top players for his age group in the country. Small, shifty player. Excellent stickhandler.

Will Kessel-Honeybaked U-16- Big lumbering forward with a very hard shot. good hands and allows to make plays.

Adam Ritchie-Nickel City Midget(Ont.)-

Alex Koopmeiners-St. Cloud Cathedral(MN HS)-Strong forward with good skating ability.

Tyson Fulton-Breck School(MN HS)-Good hands, passes the puck well.

Max Gardiner-Minnetonka HS(MN HS)-Big power forward.

Charlie Borer-Breck School(MN HS)-Excellent skater for his age.

Nolan Youngmun-Anchorage- Fast skater and a solid playmaker.

Guan Wang-Shattuck-St. Mary's-Son of famous Chinese hockey player Anfu Wang. Excellent all-around player. From Iowa.

Jay Llewellyn-Victory Honda AAA-Very big for his age.

Jean-Paul LaFontaine-Nephew of Pat LaFontaine.

Steven Phillips-Chicago Young Americans-

Jeff McMinimy-Texas Attack-

Brett Hebel-Warroad(MN) HS-Big forward with good skating ability.

Jordan Lovick-Centennial(MN HS)-Excellent with puck control.

Chad Hennum-Elk River(MN HS)-

Committed Defensemen

Jon Merrill-Little Caesar's-Committed to Michigan-Extremely big for his age, and has a lot of potential. Youngest player to ever commit to a college. Smooth skater, great agility. Has the ability to jump into the rush. Excellent in his defensive zone.

Nick Mattson-NTDP U17-Committed to North Dakota-Played at 2006 Select 15 Festival. Played for Chaska HS as a freshman. One of the best '91 born players in Minnesota.

Derek Forbort-Duluth East(MN HS)-Committed to North Dakota-Big defenseman that moves well.

Frankie Simonelli-Team Illinois-Committed to Wisconsin-

Mac Bennett-Hotchkiss Prep-Committed to Michigan-Puck-moving offensive defenseman. Very poised.

Nate Schmidt-St. Cloud Cathedral(MN HS)-Committed to Minnesota-Played varsity high school hockey as an eighth grader. Great shot. Excellent on the powerplay.

Michael Gunn-Compuware '92-Committed to Michigan State-Big, Versatile defenseman.

Steven Hoshaw-Culver Military-Committed to Alaska-Talented player from California. Will play two years of junior hockey before joining Nanooks.

Bob Marx-Russell Stover Midget-Committed to Alaska-Solid, all-around defenseman.

Kaare Odegard-Red Deer Midget-Committed to Alaska-

Uncommitted Defenseman

Kevin Clare-Jersey Hitmen(AJHL)-Playing Jr. B hockey as a '92 birthdate. Considering BU, BC, UNH, Michigan, and Notre Dame.

Stephen Johns-Pittsburgh Hornets-Big, mobile defenseman. Very good at all aspects of game.

Kevin Gravel-Marquette American Legion-Big defensive defenseman.

Jason Binkley-Cleveland AAA-Leading scorer among defenseman at 2006 Select 14 Festival. Originally from Ohio.

Harrison Scarfone-Elgin Middlesex Minor Midget-

Kevin Lind-Chicago Mission-

Kevin McMorrow-Park Rapids(MN HS)-

Eamonn McDermott-Cleveland Barons AAA-Small, puck-moving defenseman.

Joe Rubbelke-St. Paul Johnson(MN HS)-Very athletic defenseman. Also a good baseball player.

Carter Foguth-Compuware '92-

Jordan Garrison-Nickerson-Shattuck-St. Mary's-From Iowa.

Evan Accetura-Big, physical defenseman

Jarred Tinordi-NTDP U17-Son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi

Cody Van Reuben-Chicago Young Americans-Strong, physical defenseman.

Jon Zeidler-Breck School(MN HS)-Big defenseman that skates well.

David Jarrett-Edina(MN HS)-

Matt Campbell-Mankato West(MN HS)

Committed Goalies

Mac Carruth-Chicago Fury-Committed to Minnesota-Duluth-Big goalie that is also very athletic.

Uncommitted Goalies

Jack Campbell-NTDP U17-

Cody Campbell-Pikes Peak Miners-Small, athletic goalie. Took an unofficial visit to Colorado College

Andy Iles-Ithaca HS(NY)-Considered one of the top goalies in his age group. Expressed an interest in Cornell, Boston College, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Northeastern.

Willie Yanakeff-NTDP U17-

Lukas Hafner-Compuware '92-

Charles Williams-Little Caesar’s ’92-Received some interest from Michigan.

Friday, December 22, 2006

NHL Draft Rankings


Sam Gagner London(OHL)
James van Riemsdyk NTDP
Jon Blum Vancouver
Jim O’Brien Minnesota
Pat Kane London(OHL)
Nick Petrecki Omaha(USHL)
Mike Hoeffel NTDP
Billy Sweatt Colorado College
Kyle Turris Burnaby(BCHL)
Ryan McDonagh Cretin-Derham Hall(USHSW)
Dion Knelsen Alaska
Max Pacioretty Sioux City(USHL)
Pat White Grand Rapids(USHSW)
Aaron Palushaj Des Moines(USHL)
Ted Ruth NTDP
Ben Winnett Salmon Arm(BCHL)
Kevin Shattenkirk NTDP
Brad Malone Sioux Falls(USHL)
Nick Palmieri Erie(OHL)
Ben Blood Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Tristin Llewellyn Tri-City(USHL)
Nick Larson Hill-Murray(USHSW)
Tommy Cross Westminster Prep(USHSE)
Riley Nash Salmon Arm(BCHL)
Jack Downing Omaha(USHL)
Nico Sacchetti Virginia(USHSW)
Brendan Smith St. Michaels(OPJHL)
Brock Trotter Denver
Jason Gregoire Lincoln(USHL)
Alec Martinez Miami
Tyler Johnson Cloquet(USHSW)
Taylor Matson Holy Angels(USHSW)
C.J. Severyn NTDP
Justin Vaive NTDP
Ben Ryan Des Moines(USHL)
Colby Cohen Lincoln(USHL)
Cade Fairchild NTDP
Ryan Lasch St. Cloud
Brennan Vargas NTDP
John Lee Moorhead(USHSW)
Travis Oleksuk Sioux City(USHL)
Louie Caporusso St. Michael’s(OPJHL)
Tyler Kieffer Stillwater(USHSW)
Travis Erstad Steven’s Point(USHSW)

Jeremy Smith Plymouth(OHL)
Brad Phillips NTDP
Jeremie Dupont Nebraska-Omaha
Kent Patterson Cedar Rapids(USHL)
Josh Unice NTDP
Reid Ellingson Cloquet(USHSW)
Austin Lee Fargo-Moorhead(NAHL)

Limited Viewing
T.J. Galiardi Dartmouth
Paul Carey USHSE
Brian Gibbons USHSE
John Heffernan USHSE
Drew MacKenzie USHSE

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fighting and Hockey

A few days ago, this article, written by MSNBC hockey expert Kevin Dupont, got passed along to me. I thought it brought up some interesting points, so I figured it was worth mentioning here.

The article talks about making fighting more of a part of the NHL game. It challenges that convetional wisdom that American fans would shy away from the barbaric nature of fighting, citing American interest in shows like Jerry Springer, and grotesque reality shows like Fear Factor.

I've always had a mixed opinion on fighting. On one hand, there's nothing more entertaining than a good fight, but on the other hand, it doesn't seem to add a lot to the game.

Most of the fights I've seen at the junior hockey level have been pretty lame. It looks more like a bad tango than a real fight. The two players circle around each other for a while, then strip off their gloves and helmet, circle some more, come in for one big punch that misses, grab onto each other, and fall to the ice. The refs skate in to break it up, the players reflexively clap their sticks on the boards for their teammate, and then the game moves on unchanged. It's basically a waste of a couple minutes.

Fights at the NHL level are a little better, but not much. The guys that fight in that league are a little more adept at fighting, and I understand that sometimes it's necessary to step up for a teammate, but for the most part, it doesn't add much to the game. It's usually two guys who only skate a few shifts a game, and who bring little other value to the game that are the ones dropping the gloves. Fights seem so pre-meditated between the two parties that it loses a lot of the drama.

Ironically, the best fights usually come at the college level, where players aren't allowed to fight. Since players know they will miss a game if they get into a fight, they don't fight somebody unless they really mean it. There's a passion and an anger and a spontaneity in those fights that you never seen in the calculated fights of the NHL.

Dupont is right that there is a lack of passion in NHL games. But that lack of passion stems from the fact that you can't get that excited about any one game when there are 81 others just like it. I've never heard anyone question a lack of passion in the playoffs, where you never see fighting, because each game has such critical importance. There's no easy solution to that problem. Every major professional sport, save football, struggles with that problem in their regular season. But more fighting certainly isn't a solution.

While I don't necessarily have a problem with fighting, I also don't think more of it is what is best for the game hockey. It's a sideshow that may bring a few more people into the fold, but in the long-term, isn't what is best for the game. The NHL didn't put franchises in the South because they thought they would make a quick buck. They put them there because they knew it would grow the game and pay long-term benefits.

Fighting is such a minor part of the game of hockey, yet whenever hockey discussion is brought up in the mainstreak American media, it draws a lot of the attention, which in turn, draws the attention away from the game itself.

I say sell the game based on its more positive aspects. The speed and skill of the game is second to none. I'll probably end up quoting this book a lot, but I think Arthur Farell's 1899 book summed up the game perfectly:
Essentially an exciting game, hockey thrills the player and fascinates the spectator. The swift race up and down the ice, the dodging, the quick passing, the fast skating, make it an infatuating game. From the time the whistle blows for the face-off until the exciting moment when the gong announces the end of the match, the players are rushing, struggling and the spectators strainging their eyes to catch every glimpse of the play.

Fast! it eclipses other games in this respect, as football does croquet in point of roughness. Never a second to lose, never a moment to spare-an opportunity once lost is gone forever-and even one little slip, one miss, one fumble, is oftentimes the loss of a match.

So fascinating is the game to a man who rivets his attention on the play, that even the most thunderous applause, if he hears it all, sounds like a far-off of a rippling brook, because he is engaged heart and soul in his work.

Now that is a game that I want to watch. And there's no mention of two guys fighting anywhere in there. The NHL has done a great job to try and open the game, by eliminating clutching and grabbing. Putting more guys out on the ice who are just there to fight would be a step backwards in terms of making the game faster and more skill-oriented.

Fighting may be briefly marketable, but ultimately, what is going to keep fans coming back to the arena consistently? Watching Ryan Hollweg or Cam Janssen duke it out every night, or watching Pittsburgh and getting a rare second chance at seeing a greatness we thought we'd never see again? I know what I would pick. So let's take it easy on the rough stuff and just play the game.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hill-Murray/White Bear Lake

After the first two games of FSN's High School Hockey Showcase were kind of duds, they finally got a great game last night. In a classic rivarly game, Hill-Murray beat White Bear Lake 2-1 in overtime thanks to a Nick Larson end-to-end rush.

There were a lot of talented players on both sides in this game. Hill-Murray had a lot more of the well-known names, but White Bear Lake played an incredibly disciplined defensive game and didn't give up a lot of opportunities. They also got great goaltending from their young goalie. On the other end, Joe Phillippi also played a great game. He kind of struggled in the state tournament last season, and people kind of questioned why he was so well-regarded, but he showed why last night.

White Bear Lake's Jake Hansen reminded me a lot of another former White Bear Lake player: Ryan Carter. Both Hansen and Carter are only 6'1" but seem like they're much bigger. Both are pretty fast skaters and have a great shot. I think Minnesota is getting an excellent player.

Defenseman Caleb Wolfgram looked like a solid dependable defenseman. He kind of reminds me of White Bear defenseman Zach Hansen last season. He's a very solid kid that will likely go to the USHL next season, and end up getting some scholarship offers after playing there for a while.

Another Minnesota recruit, Nick Larson, had an assist on H-M's first goal and then scored the game-winner. My impression of him didn't really change much watching him, though that's good since my opinion was pretty positive. He still isn't the prettiest player out there, but he's got such great athletic ability that he can really fly around the ice. I think spending next year in the USHL would be good for his development.

1991 birthdate Tyler Zepeda got a lot of ice time on the first line. He didn't stand out a lot when I saw him at the Select 15 Festival, but he looked pretty good last night. He's a very fast skater.

Isaac Kohls was another '91 that saw a good amount of ice time. Like Larson, he didn't change my opinion on him a lot. His acceleration isn't great, but if he gets the puck on his stick, and has a little bit of time, he's incredibly dangerous. He easily could have had a couple goals last night.

I didn't see a lot of '91 defenseman Jordan Johnson. Hill-Murray has a lot of upperclassmen on defense, so he didn't get as much ice time.

Mankato West/New Prague

I had the opportunity to take in a game between Mankato West High School and New Prague High School. I had picked each team to win their respective section, and because the last game I went to(Mankato East/Faribault) featured teams from their section, it was an interesting comparison.

New Prague won the game 9-2, and obviously controlled most of the play. Section 6 of Class A is generally stronger than Section 1. I believe New Prague also beat Mankato East last year by a similar score, and East ended up going to the State Tournament.

To me, it seemed like Faribault was a little faster than New Prague, though I think New Prague has a little more depth than Faribault. I'll definitely be interested to see the result when these two teams meet. I might give Faribault the slight advantage, but I think it would be a very close game.

Mankato East looks to be a little closer to Mankato West than I expected. West's top line is better than East's, but East is an extremly scrappy team that I think could give them a run for their money.

East scored four unanswered goals late in the third period to beat Section 1 rival Austin by a score of 8-7. Junior Isaac Kolstad scored three of those goals, including the game-tying and game-winning goals in the last minute of play. So it's a big win for Mankato East, but it looks Austin will be in the mix as well in Section 1. Albert Lea hasn't really played anyone yet, but they're probably one of the favorites as well. It should be a very interesting four-horse race in the section.

Tyler Lapic

I got the opportunity to watch 1991 born sophomore forward Tyler Lapic play. Lapic is considered one of the better 1991 birthdates in the country.

When I saw him this past summer, I noted that he looked like he had recently grown and was still adjusting to his body. He looked a little more adjusted to his size last night. He's a fairly tall kid. They didn't list his height, but I would guess around 6'1" or 6'2". He looks really thin though, and could probably had a lot of strength.(Not that that is at all unusual for a kid his age. In fact, it's pretty rare that a kid that young wouldn't need to gain a lot of strength.)

Even if he didn't look particularly strong, the thing that impressed me the most with Lapic was his ability to control the puck. He reminded me a lot of Travis Morin in the way that he doesn't look particularly strong, but is incredibly difficult to knock off the puck because he does such a nice job of using his body to protect the puck.

He also displayed some pretty soft hands. His skating ability was decent, but could probably improve. I think that will come along once his legs get a little stronger. His positioning in the offensive zone was excellent. He did a great job of moving around the offensive zone, and created a couple goals off a nice cycle. I thought he could have used his teammates a little bit early on in the game, but he's leading his team in assists, so maybe that was just an anomaly.

Overall, he's a pretty solid player and one of the best 1991 birthdates in the state. I wouldn't put him ahead of the very best players like Zach Budish, Tyler Pitlick, or Nate Schmidt, but he's definitely in the next grouping. He still has a ways to go before he's ready to start getting scholarship offers, but I think he probably will be by the time he's a senior in high school.