Welcome to an all new series at Hockey’s Future, where over the course of the next six weeks, we’ll take a look at a wide range of prospects hoping to hear their name called in late June at the 2015 NHL Draft. Thanks to NHL Central Scouting, NHL Draft Primer will review select prospects from North America and Europe in this twice-weekly series.
Starting with North American skaters sitting outside of the top 150, here’s a look at players who may be on the outside looking in, or potential late round options.
210. Riley Bruce, Defenseman, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
6’6″, 196 pounds, Carp, ON
One thing you can’t teach is size, and Riley Bruce offers plenty of it. The towering defenseman has been a defensive stalwart for the North Bay Battalion, a team making a deep run in the OHL playoffs. Bruce uses his long wingspan to control play down low, and has been the very definition of a stay-at-home defenseman. Bruce moves adequately for a player his size, using his smarts to get the puck where it needs to go with a simple outlet pass. He doesn’t offer much offensively, with only 7 assists to his name in 107 regular season contests in his junior career.
201. Jarret Meyer, Defenseman, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
6’8″, 249 pounds, West Sayville, NY
There’s a phrase in hockey that goes “there’s always someone bigger and tougher than you,” and I’m not sure that applies to Owen Sound Attack defenseman Jarret Meyer. He suited up previously with the New Jersey Rockets, and turned down the USHL in favor of Canadian major junior. Meyer worked his way into 34 games this season, and did not register a point. That said, Meyer is a raw talent with plenty of tools that could be molded into a more complete player in what essentially was a “redshirt” season.
196. Cameron Hughes, Center/Left Wing, University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)
5’11”, 161 pounds, Edmonton, AB
As the season wore on, so too did the responsibilities and icetime of Wisconsin center Cameron Hughes. Coming from the AJHL, it took a couple months for Hughes to adjust to life in the Big Ten. He scored his first collegiate goal on January 31st, sparking a stretch where he contributed five points in five games. It was an abysmal season for the Badgers, but Hughes was a bright spot, displaying his creativity and astute positioning with the man advantage.
190. William Reilly, Defenseman, North York Rangers (OJHL)
6’2″, 190 pounds, Toronto, ON
Undrafted by the OHL, William Reilly might be the next late bloomer that teams are going to regret not pursuing. After suiting up for Upper Canada College, a private boys school, Reilly transitioned to the North York Rangers of the OJHL, scoring 17 times and assisting on 18 others. An athletic playmaker, Reilly thrives when the game is played at a frenzied pace, a testament to his under-control decision making. He has yet to make a determination between the OHL and NCAA, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that an NHL team will have a say in that decision.
173. Nick Azar, Defenseman, Honeybaked U18 (HPHL)
6’3″, 194 pounds, Grosse Pointe Park, MI
A multi-sport athlete, Nick Azar chose hockey over baseball, where he was a shortstop and former University of Michigan commit. He spent the season with the storied Honeybaked program, providing them with a steady influence on the blueline. Sturdy and efficient with his movement, Azar will head over to the USHL next seasonto compete for the Sioux Falls Stampede before signing on with Harvard University for the 2016-17 season.
164. Jack Becker, Center, Mahtomedi High (USHS)
6’3″, 190 pounds, Mahtomedi, MN
Among Minnesota high school hockey prospects, not many have the intellect and astute decision-making of Jack Becker. As a young man, Becker looked up to NHL veterans at the Xcel Energy Center, and last month he appeared on the very same ice, scoring a hat trick to help his team advance to the semi-finals, eventually finishing in third. His development curve took a big swing up this year, and the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL might have a breakout star waiting in the wings for next season.
161. Evan Weinger, Right Wing, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
6’0″, 187 pounds, Los Angeles, CA
Evan Weinger joins fellow former Los Angeles Junior King Keoni Texeira as draft-eligible skaters this season. Despite limited icetime playing for one of the premier teams in the WHL with Portland, Weinger still managed seven goals and 19 assists in 61 games and knocked in his first WHL playoff goal as well. He is an aggressive speedster, capable of flying past defenders and opening the game up for those around him. As a former 13th round pick, Weinger has steadily improved this season and could hear his name called in June.
154. Cameron Askew, Center, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
6’3″, 194 pounds, South Boston, MA
A former Boston University commit, Cameron Askew has been plying his trade with Moncton, after an offseason trade sent him to the QMJHL’s top destination for American players. The move paid off after an underwhelming season, as Askew scored 17 goals and 28 assists this season. Earlier this season, NHL Central Scouting pegged him 79th, so his fall is a bit of a surprise but not totally unjustified. He has been working on his consistency, but wasn’t a factor in the playoffs. Askew will have some questions to answer this summer, but showing up in the playoffs on the big stage would have been a nice starting point.
Stay tuned later this week as we take a look at notable North American skaters ranked 100 through 149.
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