Draft Stew, Part Deux

Hungry for more?

In the second installment of Draft Stew, Redline Report Scout Max Giese and I get a bit provincial; we talk about the USHL and High School Draft-Eligibles, including ones here in Minnesota.

After churning out some quality prospects for the past few years, this year looks to be a down year for Minnesota HS kids. Who is the top dog in your opinion?

Max Giese: Yeah it's a down year for sure. That said, Mario Lucia is a legit pro-prospect. He shoots the puck like an NHLer already. He has a tall frame to fill out. His skating is fine and will get stronger with added strength. Besides his shot, it's his hockey sense that distinguishes him.

He's a very smart player with a projectible frame and a great shot. His hands are soft and his stick is strong. He's not overly physical but he has a knack for winning lose pucks along the walls. He reminds me a bit of Derek Stepan. He's one of my favorite players in this draft period, let alone from high school.

Seth Ambroz was so highly touted, and I continue to read one disappointing report after another on him. What is going wrong with his play?

Giese: Ambroz hasn't progressed since the second-half of his first season in the USHL. His skating hasn't gotten any better and he's actually less physical now than he was when he first entered the USHL. I'm beginning to seriously doubt his ability to develop into an NHL player. Even after his poor fall classic I thought maybe he could still be a big guy who gets to the front of the net and scores once in awhile, but even that projection now appears too kind. He's slow, his first step and agility are bad, his skating hasn't improved in three years. Heck, he hasn't improved anything about his game in three years. He's not an intelligent player, he doesn't see the ice or have any playmaking ability. For a supposed power forward he isn't mean or nasty. Sure he has a quick, hard release but he lacks a scorers accuracy and presence. Instead of going to the front of the net now he hangs to the side of it and makes poor decisions on the PP. The only positive I can say about him is that he has been good defensively and is keeping his feet moving without the puck. Other than that his development has completely plateaued.

Outside of Ambroz, who is some of the other top USHLers available this year?

Giese: Scott Mayfield is the cream of the crop. He's big, strong, assertive, and is a great skater for his size. He's raw and hasn't developed a lot in Youngstown but once he gets to Kitchener or Denver that will change.

With his size, ability and demeanor sky is the limit. He's a mid-first sleeper much like Derek Forbort was last year - although Forbort has more offense and Mayfield has more edge.

I recently took in the UM/U-18 game a few Fridays ago, and it doesn't look to be a banner year for the U-18's. John Gibson's the top NA Goalie, but what else is there besides him?

Giese: Gibson is a terrific goaltending prospect, he's the #1 goaltender out there this year for me. Tyler Biggs, JT Miller, and Michael Palliotta are the other kids with the best chance of going in the first round. Biggs is a big, strong and physical power forward with quality skating and offensive ability. When you grade out Miller on all the individual categories he grades out as good as above-average to great in every respect, but he's been a bit snake bitten this year and hasn't produced as well as you would expect, so he's one of the enigmas this year. Michael is big, can skate and he projects to be a physical defensive defenseman who makes the first pass. He could go early 2nd round or as high as top-20. There isn't as much consensus or strength from this years' development team as there has been in the past.

How good can Rocco Grimaldi be, despite just being 5'6"?

Giese: Rocco pound for pound is one of the best players in the draft but he's going to have a tough time. I saw him lose one-on-one battles and foot-races with '95 born Ian McCoshen of Waterloo. I do wonder how if McCoshen can shut Rocco down how will Rocco do against NHL defenseman? (ed. note- McCoshen is a 6'2", 190 defenseman for Waterloo of the USHL.)

Minnesota aside, are there other HS/Prep School kids around the nation that are drawing scouts attention?

Giese: Phillipe Hudon is getting alot of attention, as is Mike McKee. Alex Lyon, of Lake of The Woods, has been also getting some buzz lately as well, but I haven't seen him yet.

Stay Tuned for more...

(also, sorry if people get pissed for not getting proper credit for me hijacking their pictures for my use. So ya, sorry if it happens.)

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