Monday, June 18, 2007

Model Camp Report

Disclaimer: I only made it to the Model Camp last Friday, and with games on two different rinks, I missed decent chunks of pretty much all of the games, so if I missed someone doing something crazy-awesome, I apologize. I'm just writing about what I saw. Also, comments on the goaltending are probably a little thin, since I'm only seeing such a small sample. I used the rosters provided by Iceburg of GopherPuckLive, which looked fairly accurate to me, but if someone was wearing a different jersey number or something, let me know.

Team 8 vs. Team 9

I think Team 9 ended up being one of the better teams in the camp. The player I was probably most impressed with off that team was Little Falls '91 defenseman Izaak Berglund. I think he barely made the national Select 15s last summer as an alternate, but now he looks like he's one of the best in his age group.

I think Hill-Murray's Dan Cecka will score a lot of points next season. He's a big, strong kid with good finishing ability. His Hill-Murray teammate, Tyler Zepeda('91 birthdate) showed off some nice speed and scored a pretty goal. He didn't do much on the defensive end, but given the setting, I wouldn't read too much into it.

Breck teammates Tyson Fulton and Riley Borer are two talented kids, but extremely young, and need some time to develop before they're serious college prospects, but are definitely two kids to watch for the future.

Team 2 vs. Team 3

This was a pretty fun game to watch with a lot of good players.

Ben Arnt was back playing in Minnesota after playing in the USHL last season. He's still not a great skater, but looked to have bulked up even more over the past year. It looked like playing in the USHL helped him get a little better at controlling the puck, and he still has a cannon for a shot. He also delivered one of the better open ice hits I've seen in a while.

Jared Maetche from St. Cloud kind of looked like a smaller version of Arnt. He's over a year younger, so he's not as strong, but he's a better skater. He's got soft hands and always works hard. He's also got a pretty nice shot. He needs to develop and fill out a little bit more, but I think he'll be a solid college hockey player some day.

Another very talented player is Rogers defenseman Nick Jensen. Jensen is a '90 birthdate, and is a great skater. He's got decent size, and is still incredibly agile. I don't think he gets as much hype playing for Rogers, but he's definitely a high-end prospect. White Bear Lake defenseman Taylor Johnson, who will be a senior next year, was also very impressive.

Ben Hanowski was also on Team 2. He seemed to be skating harder than he did at last year's Model Camp. He's still exceptional along the boards, but it seemed like he never developed great chemistry with his linemates to generate a lot of offense. That tends to happen in these types of events.

Speaking of chemistry, on Team 3, Roseau's Ben Nelson and Roseville's Adam Mueller played on the same line and were exceptional. Nelson didn't stand out to me too much during the high school season, but he looked great at the Model Camp. He was probably the best stickhandler at the camp. Mueller isn't particularly flashy, but he's able to get the puck to the net and create goals. That duo combined for at least four goals while I was watching.

Duluth East's Joe Arbour made an all-star game at a USHL tryout camp. He kind of reminded me of former Duluth East defenseman Brian Downing. He's not a great skater, but he's a big guy that uses his size well, and plays a nice, physical style of hockey.

Goalie Keegan Asmundson made some very nice saves in his half of the game. I didn't see a lot of Brady Hjelle in goal, but he looked like the best goalie there. He's very quick, and looked pretty sound positionally.

Team 7 vs. Team 10

Blaine defenseman Nick Carson will probably be one of the top defenders in the state next season. He played a little bit for Southern Minnesota after the high school season, and is a very reliable defenseman. His Blaine teammate, forward Ryan Johnson also played a very nice game.

Danny Mattson is very talented. He's probably one of the better uncommitted players left in Minnesota.

One kid I hadn't heard of was Cretin-Derham Hall's Mychal Bangs. He's only a '91 birthdate, and I don't think he played much for the Raiders last season, but he looked very good. He could have a breakout year next season.

Team 10 had Nick Mattson, who is the sole Minnesotan selected to the NTDP so far this year. Mattson is tremendously talented, but he also looked a little raw. He also still has to fill out a lot physically. Of course, he was one of the youngest players at the camp. After two years with the NTDP, he should be an outstanding player.

Team 1 vs. Team 4

Team 4 had two of the most talented players in the state in Jared Festler and Mike Fink. They played a couple shifts together, but I never felt like they really clicked. They generated some offense, but most of it was off of individual efforts. Fink had a couple great rushes up the ice, and Festler showcased his stick-handling ability. I didn't start off as a big fan of Festler's, but the more I see him, the more impressed I've become, and I think he'll really surprise some people with how far he goes in hockey.

To contrast Team 4, Team 1 had '91 birthdates Zach Budish and Nick Oliver, who have played together in the past and had pretty good chemistry together. Budish was one of the best players I saw, and it sounds like he scored a lot of goals. I saw him score twice on two beautiful snap shots from high in the slot. Not many high schoolers have the strength to finish from where he did. I guess some people have questioned his consistency, but he's looked very good every time I've seen him, and I don't see any '91 forwards in the state being better than him. Oliver also played pretty well. He always gives 100%. He even managed to take two penalties, which given how the games are officiated, is quite a feat.

'91 defenseman Nick Leddy also stood out as a talented player, as did Edina's Brendan Baker. Baker sometimes struggles against top-end players, but given time to develop, he should become better defensively.

Team 11 vs. Team 12

I ended up not watching a lot of this game, since I was more interested in the games on the other rink.

One kid I was interested in seeing was Matt Farris, who scored a lot of points playing high school hockey in South Dakota. He was a pretty decent player, though his point totals definitely look inflated due to his competition. If he gets a little stronger, he may get some looks by junior teams.

Burnsville's Jake Hendrickson is a kid that should get a lot more attention next season. He played pretty well.

Team 5 vs. Team 6

This was the game I was most interested in seeing. There were a lot of great players on both sides.

I was interested to see how Seth Helgeson would do against a little tougher competition. He looked pretty raw. I think it will take some time before he learns when to pick his spots to rush up the ice. He's got all the tools though, including great skating, size, and an absolute cannon for a shot. It'd be a shame if he left Faribault HS, but it'd also probably be in his best interest.

Another duo that had really nice chemistry together was Jake Youso and Anoka's John O'Neill. Youso is probably the fastest player in the state. He's really thin, but I think he's stronger than he looks. O'Neill is an incredibly smooth player, with a lot of talent. He'll be a very nice recruit for somebody.

Wausau's Nate Condon is a young player, but I think he's one of the more talented players in Wisconsin. He's a definite college prospect.

Team 6 had three of the best defenseman in the state in Aaron Ness, Joe Gleason, and Anthony Raiola. Ness and Gleason were paired together and were fun to watch. Ness is almost the exact opposite of Helgeson, in that he has none of the physical ability, but his game is so refined and he almost never makes a mistake. Also, being so light gives him a ridiculous amount of agility. Ness and Gleason took a shift at forward and they ended up scoring a goal.

Raiola isn't flashy like some of the other '90 born defenseman, but he's probably one of the better defensive defenseman at that age group.

The Edina duo of Marshall Everson and Connor Gaarder were also on Team 6. Everson isn't a pretty player, but is very effective. He's not the greatest skater, but he's got a decent amount of size, and uses it to his advantage. Gaarder is a talented kid, but probably needs some more time to develop.