For many teams with draft-eligible players, the postseason is either nearing or it has arrived. This is the part of the season where players can really shine. The intensity of playoff hockey or being part of a playoff race adds an entirely new element to the season. How a player handles that intensity can sometimes be a factor in the decision process of whether or not to select Player A over Player B.
Today, we take a look at some NCAA and Minnesota High School draft prospects that can benefit from a good late-season push.
The University of Denver’s Nick Shore has been steadily climbing up charts of late. After breaking his wrist earlier in the season, Shore showed no ill effects in his return. The big centerman is beginning to show the vision and playmaking ability that made him a standout at the National Team Development Program last season. D.J. Powers of Hockey’s Future recently posted his interview with Shore and an in-depth scouting report. I’m always interested to hear how players classify themselves. Here’s what Shore told Powers:
“I’d say that I’m a two-way center that is very reliable in the defensive zone and able to create offense in the offensive zone. I’m good on faceoffs as well. I think being able to play at both ends of the ice is a big part of it and developing both parts of my game is really important.”
Shore also mentioned that he wants to try and shoot more, which isn’t necessarily a bad idea. With only five goals this season, Shore hasn’t really showcased his scoring touch. Despite being a “pass-first” player, Shore has scoring ability and if he does get more opportunities to shoot, goalies better be ready.
A good run for Denver during the postseason gives Shore some extra games to showcase his talents after losing nine early in the season with that broken wrist. Playing with 2010 first-rounder Beau Bennett, who also missed some time this year with injury, doesn’t hurt either. Shore is projected as an early second rounder, but International Scouting Services listed him as a potential first-round talent. These next few weeks could be the difference between the two.
Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan is in his second year of draft eligibility and is making the most of it. Leading the Irish and the nation’s freshmen with a pretty remarkable 46 points (19g-27a), the small center has been unavoidable. Though dogged by his size, Tynan has shown in back-to-back seasons that he can produce against bigger, stronger opponents. He did it last year with Des Moines in the USHL and now in NCAA Division I hockey. Tynan just has a few short weeks left of proving himself and will likely have plenty of eyes on him throughout the CCHA playoffs and the NCAA tournament. If this is going to be the Draft where the little guy gets his due, it can’t end without Tynan getting picked.
Boston University defensmen Adam Clendening has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride this year. Coming into the season, many liked his first-round potential. A lackluster start and getting cut from the U.S. National Junior Team (which doubly hurt for the Western New York native) began a steady decline in Clendening’s draft stock. However, it seems to have turned around. One of the most gifted puck-movers available for 2011, Clendening’s point total has jumped up. He’s tied for third on BU (with 2010 first-rounder and fellow freshman Charlie Coyle) with 23 points (5g-18a). Continuing his steady play throughout the playoffs and into the national tournament will only help Clendening return to favor among the majority of NHL scouts. It seems unlikely that Clendening will sneak into the first round, but whoever picks him up in Round 2 is going to be pretty pleased.
Coming up after the jump a look at the Minnesota High School prospects in search of improving their draft stock during the state playoffs.
The Minnesota High School State Tournament is right around the corner. Last night, there were a pair of interesting sectional championship games, both of which were aired via live webstream, which is pretty outstanding for out-of-staters looking to get a glimpse of Minnesota High School hockey.
Edina, featuring perhaps the top D prospect in Minnesota High School hockey, Max Everson, earned a trip to the Xcel Energy Center with a 3-2 win over Burnsville. Early in February, Everson suffered an injury that appeared would keep the 6-foot-1 blue liner out, but after a few games off, he played through it. He posted two assists in Edina’s 5-0 win over Prior Lake to get to the sectional championship game. You know the NHL likes tough kids. Missing little time even after a dislocated wrist shows some amount of guts.
Everson’s teammate, Steven Fogarty, listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, is also part of the draft conversation. His size alone puts him in the discussion, but he’s also got scoring touch. In the sectional playoffs, Fogarty notched seven points, including a goal and an assist in Wednesday night’s win over Burnsville. He led Edina in the regular season with 40 points, including a team-best 23 goals. Fogarty was listed by NHL Central Scouting at 132 at the midterm. He’s the type of player, with his size, that a good showing at the end of the season could go a long way in raising draft stock. The big man from Edina is still projecting as a late-round pick, which could make him a low-risk, high-reward candidate. Those are the late-round selections you don’t mind making if you’re an NHL GM.
Last night’s other sectional included Eden Prairie and Wayzata, both of which possess some quality draft prospects. In fact, it was Kyle Rau, a 2011 eligible, that propelled Eden Prairie to a 4-3 win when he slid a rebound under the Wayzata goaltender in the second overtime period. It was fitting that Rau scored the goal because he was all over the place in that second overtime. He showed some great skill and was getting pucks to the net. His size is going to keep him in the lower rounds, but his 69 points (33g-36a) in 25 regular-season games will be tough to ignore. If the diminutive forward can make an impact at the State Tournament, he’s going to get some second looks.
On the opposite end of the result were Wayzata’s Mario Lucia and Tony Cameranesi, both draft eligible in 2010. Lucia notched a goal in the game, his fifth of the sectional playoffs, while Cameranesi recorded an assist, his sixth of sectionals. The pair clearly were among the best players on the ice. Lucia had two great opportunities to end the game in the first overtime, but missed the net on both occasions. Still, he was a threat in the parts of the game I was able to watch (thanks to a so-so internet stream).
Lucia cracked the top-30 of NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, but having his season cut a few games short doesn’t exactly help solidify that position. He did play with the NTDP before his season started at Wayzata. I haven’t heard one way or another if he will be headed back to Ann Arbor now that his season is over. If he earns a shot over there and has success or gets a spot on the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team for the World Under-18s, he may remain part of the first-round conversation. Lucia’s 30 goals in 28 total games for Wayzata is nothing to sneeze at. He’s clearly a skilled forward, with good size, who can find the back of the net. I think its more likely we’ll see him go somewhere in the mid-second round, but there’s always seems to be a team that jumps on a high school player earlier than we’d expect.
On a similar note of the importance of late-season play, projected first-round draft pick Scott Mayfield, of the Youngstown Phantoms, has his latest blog post up at NHL.com. The big defensemen covers the late-season success of the Phantoms and how the team’s dressing room has that playoff atmosphere as Youngstown makes a push for the USHL postseason.
If you aren’t already, be sure to follow Mike Morreale and Adam Kimelman on Twitter. The pair do a lot of the NHL Draft features for NHL.com and have their finger on the pulse of the prospect landscape. Morreale and Kimelman also get the inside scoop from scouts.
A look towards 2012: Ryan Kennedy of the Hockey News profiles 2012 top prospect, Jacob Trouba.