American Prospect Update: NCAA Draft-Eligibles; ESPN Top 50 and More

There aren’t as many NHL Draft prospects in the college ranks this season, mainly because most draft-eligible players aren’t old enough for college yet. While the NCAA field of prospects is small, it offers a fair amount of intrigue.

Because the NCAA draft pool is small and many of the college draft-eligibles are in their second year of eligibility, there isn’t a whole lot of draft chatter surrounding those players. Well, that stops today, as we take a look at the three American-born NCAA draft-eligible players listed on Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings.

Also, coming up after the jump, a look at where Americans fell in ESPN Insider’s Top 50 rankings, Nick Ebert at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, a Minnesota scoring sensation and some links.

There are plenty of second-year draft eligible players in college hockey this year, but only three American-born NCAA prospects were listed on NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings: Wisconsin’s Jake McCabe, Austin Wuthrich of Notre Dame and Northeastern’s Adam Reid. Here’s a look at all three.

Jake McCabe – D — University of Wisconsin — Outside of Canadian-born and University of Michigan forward Phil Di Giuseppe, who came in at No. 28, McCabe was the highest ranked collegiate player at No. 47. A late 1993-birth year, McCabe is one of the older first-year-eligible players in the draft. He accelerated his schooling so he could get to the University of Wisconsin this year, and it’s really paying off for the strong defenseman.

McCabe has played significant minutes for the Badgers, even getting time on the power play and penalty kill. Not too shabby for a true freshman, especially when you consider McCabe has missed 11 games this season after a freak accident, in which a teammates skate blade sliced up McCabe’s hand, cutting a tendon.

Now that McCabe is back, he hasn’t shown much rust, playing significant minutes for the Badgers. He only has six points so far this season, but his offensive game has come a long way from his under-17 season at the National Team Development Program.

While McCabe is not necessarily big, at 6-0, 195, he is strong. Never one to shy away from the physical game, McCabe plays a very steady style. He’s dependable at both ends of the ice and does a lot of little things right. With the injury setback and Wisconsin’s less-than-stellar season, McCabe may end up settling into the third-round range, but a strong finish to his season will keep him in the second-round conversation.

Austin Wuthrich – F — University of Notre Dame — Wuthrich came in at No. 73 on the CSS mid-term rankings. A second-year eligible player, Wuthrich missed a good portion of his first draft-eligible season after breaking his leg in the second game of the year. He ended up appearing in 20 games at the National Team Development Program, but it wasn’t enough of a body of work for scouts to take the risk.

Wuthrich has shown no ill effects in his freshman campaign at Notre Dame. Despite being a true freshman, he’s become a bear to play against for his opponents. The 6-1, 196-pound forward plays with an edge and tenacity. He skates well and plays the body any chance he gets. Wuthrich is solidly built and uses his muscle to out-work, or at least put a lot of pressure on his opponents.

He doesn’t have a flashy game, but Wuthrich can certainly bring the offense, as he’s posted 15 points including seven goals in 25 games for the Irish this season. Now that he’s healthy, there’s no reason he won’t get picked up this year. Wuthrich looks like he could safely project into a bottom-six role at the next level. He’s a good bet for the middle rounds of the draft.

Adam Reid – F — Northeastern University — Reid is also in his second year of eligibility after getting passed over after his solid, if unspectacular season with the U.S. National Under-18 Team. CSS slotted him at No. 143 in the mid-term rankings, which is probably the range he’ll stay in.

Reid isn’t overly skilled, but he has some serious raw ability and great size. As more of a long-range prospect, he might be worth taking a late-round stab at.

Reid has been adding weight and muscle to his 6-4 frame and has gotten up to 205 pounds. The size would be a big factor in a team selecting Reid, so he’s got plenty of that. He hasn’t really lit Hockey East up, with just four points in 23 games for the Huskies, including three goals.

It might be later in the draft, but there could be a few teams that would like to get Reid into the mix as a bit of a project pick and see if they can develop him into something a few years down the line.

Grant Sonier’s Top 50 Rankings at ESPN.com

Grant Sonier unveiled his Top 50 rankings for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft on ESPN.com Monday (Insider subscription required). Sonier is a former scout and front-office guy in the NHL, so he’s a vastly experienced talent evaluator. Sonier wrote that his list is more just his projections and not where he thinks players will be picked.

It’s always interesting to see what happens when you get one person’s opinion, as opposed to a conglomerate of scouts like you get with NHL Central Scouting or International Scouting Services. Talent evaluating is an inexact science and opinions vary.

Here’s a look at how Americans fared in Sonier’s Top 50.

7 . Alex Galchenyuk — No surprise to see Galchenyuk on another top-10 list. Despite the injury he suffered in the preseason, Galchenyuk is still considered one of the most skilled players in the draft. The latest news is that Galchenyuk may be ready to return to action by March.

14. Stefan Matteau — Matteau is climbing up just about everybody’s chart. Sonier cited Matteau’s grit and determination as big reasons for the high ranking. The general consensus is that Matteau has that pro frame and just enough offensive ability for it to translate at the next level.

21. Jacob Trouba — Sonier seems a lot lower on Trouba than just about everybody else, but cites the lack of offensive ability as reason for the lower ranking. That’s been a common complaint about Trouba, but if you saw his offensive sense from last year to this year, it’s like night and day. Trouba is rapidly developing into a two-way defenseman. His continual improvement is why he’ll go high in June, but you can’t fault Sonier for the lower ranking.

24. Brady Skjei — Skjei continues to end up in more and more “first-rounds” in these rankings. The size and skating, as Sonier also points out, are huge factors in his rise, but Sonier also listed a few common complaints about Skjei. Should be interesting to see where the defenseman ends up in June.

31. Jordan Schmaltz — Though Schmaltz has been falling on other lists, Sonier left the offensive defenseman in that cusp-of-the-first-round projection.

35. Nic Kerdiles — Projections for Kerdiles have been end-of-first round, to beginning of the second round all year. He really could go either way, depending on his second half.

39. Patrick Sieloff — This could be a really solid projection for where Sieloff could end up. His grit, as Sonier indicated, is going to be tough to match in this range.

41. Boo Nieves — Sonier listed hockey sense as a potential concern for Nieves, which I would tend to agree with based on what I saw at the Ivan Hlinka. Like everyone else, Sonier loves the raw ability of the Kent School forward.

45. Brady Vail — Vail is another player that has been projected kind of all over the map, but that’s because Vail has a difficult skill set to project. Sonier likes his hockey sense.

50. Brian Hart — Sonier closed out his ranking with big Brian Hart, who is turning heads in the prep ranks. This is another name that we will continue to hear a lot about.

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Links:

Nick Ebert is the lone American player that will be playing in tonight’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna, B.C. On Tuesday, Ebert participated in and won the hardest shot contest at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Skills Competition. Ebert’s shot was clocked at 94.7 MPH, which was .4 faster than Ryan Murray’s attempt.

Ebert has been sliding down the rankings all season, but he’s been granted a good opportunity to showcase himself at the Top Prospects Game. Perhaps this is the end of the slide, and the beginning of a climb back up.

Ryan Kennedy’s Hot List at thn.com is a weekly stop for any prospect junkie and this week’s didn’t disappoint. 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligibles Max Iafrate, of the London Knights, and Lakeville South’s Justin Kloos are highlighted in this week’s list.

Another good resource for prospect fans, especially those of you interested in Minnesota High School prospects, is Minnesota Hockey Hub. This site has made following Minnesota High School hockey about as easy as you could hope for. It may not be a great year for the state’s high school players in the draft, but the Hub is such a great resource.

Josh Cisar, of Moose Lake H.S., who you’ll find at the top of the statistics leaderboard at mnhockeyhub.com, scored eight goals against North Branch on Saturday and was featured on the Yahoo! Sports high school blog, Prep Rally. Only Max Oshie’s 12-goal game for Warroad High School in 1948 is ahead of Cisar’s feat. In 20 games this season, Cisar as 51 goals. Not a typo. No one is within 14 goals of the state’s leader. The next closest player? Cisar’s younger brother Tyler, with 37. Seriously.

The Moose Lake senior is not on anyone’s draft radar, and wasn’t even on a lot of college’s radar. He’s committed to play football at Minnesota Duluth, but something tells me a few more teams will take notice of this goal machine. He probably won’t get drafted, but I can’t imagine someone with these kind of stats won’t get a look from some colleges.

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About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
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