Nick Seeler, Defense
6'2" 185 Pounds, 6/3/1993 Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
I traveled up to Fargo this weekend to take in some USHL action for Future Considerations, taking in The Force and the visiting Des Moines Buccaneers play. While most of the Draft-eligible talent played for the home team, the visitors had someone of local relevance; Nick Seeler, who Minnesota drafted in the 5th Round, 131st overall.
I'm not going to lie; as Nate Wells and I sat in the stands chewing the fat and hearing names we've never heard before get called (at that point our collective knowledge of prospects was dwindling), we just kind of took it all in after Minnesota dealt their 3rd and 4th Rounders to move up and snag Mario Lucia at the end of the 2nd; so when The Wild's next pick rolled around, we heard yet another name we've never heard of, but from a town we all know- Eden Prairie, home of the Class AA State Hockey Champions.
So aside from the Prospect Development Camp Scrimmages in July, I hadn't seen Seeler play. He started the year with the moribund Muskegon Lumberjacks, before he was dealt to Des Moines (for 2013-eligible Michael Brodzinski, currently a junior at Blaine.) His play has picked up, especially on the offensive side of the coin- two goals and nine points in 19 games (giving him 4 goals and 24 points on the season.) He's all set to lace up for legendary Coach Dean Blais at Nebraska-Omaha this fall, which should do wonders for his development.
Talent Analysis: Seeler has good size to him; after a growth spurt during his senior year at Eden Prairie, he stands at 6'2"; his frame is a bit lanky for the time being but can handle another 15-20 pounds of mass, which would make his physical game more effective. Seeler is a strong skater, directionally mobile and shows good acceleration moving north-south and laterally. Shows good gap control, makes it hard for puck carriers to beat him wide. Did a great job of eliminating the center of the ice and keeping puck carriers riding along the boards. Has some "warrior" to him; not afraid of the puck, so he's willing to stand in front of shots and block them (even if you can see the look on his face that is saying "this is gonna hurt") but like any shot blocker, Greg Zanon especially, sometimes Seeler can do more harm than good- he effectively screened his goalie on Fargo's 2nd goal Friday night. He's given all the minutes he can handle for the Bucs; saw ice time in all situations, even playing point on the power play. Has good patience with the puck, and didn't rush any distributions. Showed really good vision- able to find teammates in traffic, and executed a slap pass from the point cross rink to the slot to an open teammate during one shift on the PP. Makes crisp and accurate passes, but doesn't have high end creativity. His shot from the point is heavy and kept low. Plays with jam, although he could stand to be a bit more feisty. Willing to battle and bang bodies, capable of knocking an opponent on his ass. Will jump up on the play, but not at the detriment to his partner. Likely not a high end point producer, but isn't without offensive acumen. Shows a competitive spirit, making him gritty and difficult to play against.
I think it would be easy- no, too easy and maybe ignorant- to say that Brent Flahr (the guy who runs the Draft Table, not Chuck Fletcher) and his staff took Lucia and Seeler simply because they played in our backyard, but maybe its to their advantage- the scouts (and I see Ernie Vargas, Brian Hunter, and others in local rinks all of the time- Vargas and Shep Harder were just down Scout/Media row from me this weekend) are able to get viewings of players with little to no travel costs incurred in what is a long-time source of NHL talent (although this year is somewhat of a down year.) Seeler could very well be somewhat of a gem; I can't find the actual quote, but I believe at some point Flahr or Fletcher relayed to the media that they were surprised to be able to draft Seeler in the 5th- whether that is just Ops-speak cliche or an actual tell of what they think of Seeler's potential we'll never truly know.
The jury is somewhat out on Seeler; he had next to no buzz going into the Draft, but have heard whisperings of Minnesota's opinion of him (Top-4 capacity,) but a scout I know said he'd "eat his scouting book if Seeler ever sees Top-4 minutes at the NHL level."
I liked what I saw, and I thought he was more composed and had a better identity as a player than Sean Lorenz, our 2008 4th Round Pick who just signed an ATO with Houston after his career at Notre Dame concluded a few weeks ago. While I don't know if top pairing potential is there, I think Seeler could top out as a #4 D, but maybe more along the lines of a bottom pairing guy. This however, is a ways out- we likely won't see Seeler in a Wild uniform (if ever) for a number of years, but we'll be able to track his progress in
Photo Courtesy of USHL.com