University of New Hampshire Wildcats (NCAA)
6'3" 170 Pounds, 11/15/1994
Its not too often these days we see the first time draft-eligible College Freshman; many players are eligible to be selected in high school, or in juniors, which is often recommended before jumping to the NCAA ranks. However, like Jake McCabe of Wisconsin (one of my favorites last year), New Hampshire's Brett Pesce was able to make the jump and play college hockey in his Draft Year.
And like McCabe, Pesce stands a very good chance of hearing his name called in the top 60 picks.
If you were to look at Pesce's stat line, you would be underwhelmed; 38 games played, one goal, six points, +7. However, let me give you some context; legendary UNH Head Coach Dick Umile generally doesn't play freshmen defensemen. Not just not play, but not even dress to play; so for Pesce to play 38 out of 39 games is pretty special- Umile was quoted as saying Pesce was one of the more special freshmen he's ever had at New Hampshire.
He had to earn the trust of his coaches, and eventually ended up seeing time on the penalty kill and important even strength minutes; he didn't see much time on the power play because he was the low man on the totem pole; a couple of seniors, including Trevor van Riemsdyk, got those minutes. So there's an excellent chance that Pesce has offensive upside, he just didn't get the requisite opportunity to showcase it because of the UNH hierarchy.
Pesce is an extremely intelligent player; a heady and poised player, he has very strong defensive ability. He gaps up on puck carriers very well, and has an excellent stick. He's got very good mobility, although his stride is a tad short for a player his height. He plays a simple, sturdy game; when I saw him last year with the U18's in Mankato, he was stuck trying to maintain the back end while Brady Skjei tried to wheel the puck up ice every chance he got.
At 170 pounds, Pesce has room to muscle up as well; when it is all said and done, he should be operating around 200 pounds when he's fully mature. The added strength will help clearing defenders out of the crease, and adding another gear in his skating, which will improve his ability to join and contribute off of the rush, or being able to skate the puck up ice.
He's an intriguing player, because of his mental capability and how well he stepped into a situation like UNH; also largely because he's so far under the radar. A tall, defensively responsible right shot defenseman?
Sounds good to me.