Thursday, May 31, 2007

NHL Draft Prospect: Mike Hoeffel

Our next draft profile is of NTDP forward Mike Hoeffel.

Hoeffel played his high school hockey at Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, Minnesota. He skated for the Hill-Murray JV team as a freshman. The next year, Hoeffel grew four inches and added 25 lbs. to measure at 6'0 and 165 lbs., and was one of the top sophomores in the state of Minnesota. He was the Pioneers second leading scorer with 44 points, behind only Ryan Guentzel. Hoeffel was invited to the US NTDP tryout camp, where USHR thought he was the best forward at the camp. He returned to Hill-Murray for his junior year of high school. Hoeffel once again grew to the size of 6'2" 180 lbs. and was one of the best players in the state. He scored 70 points as a junior, second only to teammate Nick Larson's 79 points.

I was impressed with Hoeffel at the 2005 Elite League: "Before the tournament, I would have guessed that '07 recruit Mike Hoeffel, the 6th ranked uncommitted forward, would be the best player in the league, and he certainly looked like it. Hoeffel was about as close to a complete package as there is. He has very good size, and uses it pretty well. He can also skate exceptionally well for someone his size, and has a very heavy snap shot that he loves to use. The only problem was that he had the accuracy of a Stormtrooper today. He had three quality scoring chances today and put all three shots over the net. One beat the goalie cleanly, but hit the crossbar, while the other two missed badly. If he improves his scoring touch a little, he'll be a very good player."

That November, Hoeffel accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Minnesota in 2007. The summer after his junior year of high school, Hoeffel accepted an offer to play for the National Development Program in Ann Arbor.

Hoeffel got off to a slow start with the NTDP. Most players struggle in their first couple of months with the NTDP, but Hoeffel's was a bit more high-profile because he was with the U18 team and was in his draft year. Hoeffel started to become more comfortable with his role on the team. He suffered a torn ACL and had to miss the end of the season, including the World U18 Championships. It should be fully healed for next fall, but it could hurt his development this summer.

Hoeffel is listed at 6'2" 186 lbs. by NHL Central Scouting. Hoeffel has all the tools to be an outstanding player: he's pretty big, a good skater, and is a nice finisher. But as his low scoring totals with the NTDP might suggest, he still needs to find a way to put it all together to be more effective against top competition. Playing college hockey should give him the time to develop those hockey instincts.

NHL Central Scouting rated Hoeffel #22 in their final rankings, up from 24 in the mid-term rankings. That would indicate that Hoeffel would be picked towards the end of the first round, though he could slip down well into the second round due to his injury and not being able to play at the World Championships.

Hoeffel will head to Minnesota next fall. Much like Jimmy O'Brien last year, Hoeffel could get stuck on one of the lower lines and not see a lot of icetime, especially in special teams situations. But given a year or two to develop, Hoeffel should emerge as one of the top threats for the Gophers. Whichever team drafts him would probably best be served by letting him play at least 3 seasons of college hockey.

Biggest Strength: Goal-scoring ability
Needs to Improve: Hockey sense

Further Reading:

NTDP Feature December 1, 2006