2012 Draft: Top 10 draft eligible prospects from the NCAA

By DJ Powers

Photo: Winger Austin Wuthrich showed a lot of grit in his freshman year with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (Zuma Press/Icon SMI)

 

The top 10 collegians eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft are comprised of five forwards and five defensemen who have just completed their freshman seasons. These players represent four of the five NCAA conferences. Four of this year's top 10 players are from the CCHA, followed by three from the WCHA, two from Hockey East, and one from the ECAC.

1. Phil Di Giuseppe, LW
Freshman, University of Michigan
6'1, 200 lbs. Shoots: L
DoB: 10/9/93

Di Giuseppe finished his excellent freshman season second on among all Wolverines rookies with 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 40 games. The Maple, ONT native ended a strong freshman campaign posting nine points (five goals, four assists) in Michigan's final eight games en route to earning an honorable mention to the CCHA All-Rookie team.

HF feature on Phil Di Giuseppe.

2. Jake McCabe, D
Freshman, University of Wisconsin
6'1, 200 lbs. Shoots: L
DoB: 10/12/93

McCabe finished an outstanding rookie campaign at Wisconsin appearing in 26 games and posting 12 points (three goals, nine assists). Two of his three goals came on the power play. McCabe's two game-winners were also tied for first on the team. His plus-3 ranked tied for fifth on the Badgers squad. McCabe's outstanding showing at the recent NHL Combine further enhanced his draft stock.

HF feature on Jake McCabe.

3. Austin Wuthrich, RW
Freshman, University of Notre Dame
6'1, 196 lbs. Shoots: R
DoB: 8/11/93

After being passed over in the 2011 Draft, Notre Dame freshman Austin Wuthrich could wind up being selected this year. The Bakersfield, CA-born winger led the Fighting Irish in rookie scoring with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) playing in 34 games. Wuthrich was one of just two players on the Notre Dame roster that finished the season on the plus side (plus-four). He played much of the season with junior Riley Sheahan (DET) and at times with sophomore Jeff Costello (OTT). The trio made for one of the toughest line combinations to come out of the CCHA. While Wuthrich is a right wing, he did see time on the left side this season as well.

Wuthrich is a fiercely competitive winger that can be difficult to play against. He is remarkably strong and uses his size and strength quite effectively in fending off opposing players. Wuthrich plays with a great deal of grit and can deliver some solid checks. One area where he improved over the course of the season was his skating. He skates with powerful strides and has added some speed, but his feet, particularly in transition, still need work. Wuthrich is excellent in the difficult areas and does a very good job of cycling the puck. One of Wuthrich's greatest assets is his shot. He possesses a pro-shot and can get pucks to the net. He excels in playing around the net and has demonstrated some very good finishing ability.

4. Shayne Gostisbehere, D
Freshman, Union College
5'11, 160 lbs. Shoots: L
DoB: 4/20/93

Shayne Gostisbehere was part of a well-balanced Union College team that made their very first Frozen Four appearance this spring. The Margate, FLA native led the Dutchmen in freshmen scoring with 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) playing in all 41 games and earned a spot on the ECAC All-Rookie team. His plus-18 ranked tied for second on the team. While Gostisbehere was on the scouting radar throughout the season, it was his excellent post-season performance that significantly boosted his draft stock.

Gostisbehere is a smart, puck-moving defenseman who sees the ice remarkably well. But what sets him apart from many collegiate rookie defensemen is his ability to balance great offensive skills with a solid defensive game. Gostisbehere is smart in knowing when to jump into plays and his decision-making is very good. He moves exceedingly well with the puck and his passing skills are excellent. Gostisbehere also possesses a great stick and does a good job of taking away lanes. While Gostisbehere's one-on-one coverage is good, he'll need to continue to improve his gap control. Gostisbehere is a superb skater with good speed and agility. He possesses a very good shot and can get pucks to the net. Gostisbehere's greatest attributes, such as his skating will be further enhanced with continued physical development.

5. Joey LaLeggia, D
Freshman, University of Denver
5'10, 180 lbs. Shoots: L
DoB: 6/24/92

Joey LaLeggia was a highly touted defenseman coming into the NCAA this season and he didn't disappoint. The Burnaby, BC native earned both the WCHA and National Rookie of the Year honors after leading the nation in freshman defensemen with 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) playing in all 43 games for the Pioneers. His 38 points also ranked third among all defensemen nationally and tied for fourth among all rookies. LaLeggia was one of the nation's most consistent point producers. He proved to be a vital cog on Denver's power play unit and took over the quarterbacking duties after the injury to sophomore David Makowski.

LaLeggia is blessed with superb offensive instincts and can make things happen whenever the puck is on his stick. He is an excellent skater with great feet and utilizes his speed quite effectively in making plays. The defenseman really sees the ice well and makes good decisions with the puck. He can make really nice outlet passes and is very creative in his breakouts. LaLeggia has a very good stick and does a good job of taking away lanes. He possesses a good shot from the point and can get pucks to the net. One of the biggest knocks on LaLeggia is his defensive zone play. While he has made strides in that area, it is still a work in progress. And that should continue to improve as his collegiate career moves forward.

6. Austin Czarnik, C
Freshman, Miami University
5'8, 152 lbs. Shoots: R
DoB: 12/12/92

One of the most dynamic rookies to emerge from the NCAA this season was Miami freshman Austin Czarnik. The Washington, MI native led the RedHawks with 27 assists. He ranked second on the team with 37 points and a plus-25 playing in 40 games en route to earning a spot on the CCHA All-Rookie team. Czarnik centered one of the CCHA's most potent lines that also featured junior Reilly Smith (DAL) and fellow freshman Jimmy Mullin (TB). Where Czarnik really established himself this season was at the World Junior Championship, posting four points (two goals, two assists) for Team USA. He was able to carry that through to the second half of the season helping to guide Miami to their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Despite being just 5'8, Czarnik plays a lot bigger than his size. He's not afraid to throw his body around and plays with a great deal of tenacity. Czarnik possesses excellent speed and acceleration and utilizes it exceedingly well in creating time and space. His speed and quickness also makes him a difficult player to play against as well. Czarnik is blessed with great instincts and vision, is creative, and has demonstrated he can elevate his play in big games. One of Czarnik's best assets is his puck-moving ability and he is equally adept at both setting up and finishing plays. He is also solid in his defensive play too. He does however lack size, and strength, the second of which should improve as he matures.

7. Jordan Oesterle, D
Freshman, Western Michigan University
5'11, 172 lbs. Shoots: L
DoB: 6/25/92

One of the potential "hidden gems" that could be selected among this year's draft-eligible collegians is Western Michigan freshman Jordan Oesterle. The Dearborn Heights, MI native was part of a stellar Broncos defensive corps this season. He appeared in 36 games, posting seven points (two goals, five assists). Playing in the shadows of highly regarded juniors Dan DeKeyser and Matt Tennyson (SJ), Oesterle flew a bit under the scouting radar. But the scouts that have paid close attention to the young rearguard have been impressed with his play throughout the season.

Oesterle is an excellent skater that could potentially blossom into a solid two-way defenseman. He possesses great feet and moves really well laterally. While he only showed glimpses of it this season, Oesterle does possess some offensive skills and will jump up into plays. He displays great poise with the puck and makes good outlet passes. Oesterle is quite good in transition and moves really well with the puck. He also has a very good shot from the point too. One area where Oesterle made great strides in throughout the season was in his defensive zone play. He plays well one-on-one and his great stick allows him to effectively take away time and space. While his gap control is good, it could be better. One of the defenseman's greatest weaknesses is in his decision-making, particularly in the defensive zone. As his collegiate career progresses, that should continue to improve.

8. Alexx Privitera, D
Freshman, Boston University
195 lbs. Shoots: R
DoB: 1/18/93

Despite missing seven games due to a wrist, Alexx Privitera enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign that culminated with a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie team. The Old Tappan, NJ native posted 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 25 games in 2011-12. After a slow start to his collegiate career, Privitera began to hit his stride in December. But it was after the departure of junior Max Nicastro (DET) in February that Privitera really made his mark. This was particularly evident on the Terriers power play where two of his four goals were scored. And with sophomore Adam Clendening having recently signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, Privitera could be running Boston University's power play next season.

What Privitera lacks in size, he more than makes up for with his excellent skating ability and puck skills. Privitera is very agile on his skates and possesses very good speed. He is also very active in jumping into plays and his transitioning is quite good. Privitera possesses great hands and distributes the puck really well. He can make strong outlet passes and get quality shots to the net. One area where Privitera made great strides in this season was his willingness to block shots. Possessing fantastic vision, Privitera could be a dominant college player in the coming years.

9. Adam Reid, LW
Freshman, Northeastern University
6'3, 200 lbs. Shoots: L
DoB: 1/29/93

Northeastern freshman Adam Reid may have one of the best upsides and potential among this year's crop of draft-eligible collegians. The Chino Hills, CA native appeared in 33 games for the Huskies this season, posting nine points (six goals, three assists). His two game-winners co-led the team. Reid's most memorable game of the season came on Feb. 24, when he posted the game-winner in Northeastern's 4-2 win over Maine. The goal also extended his point streak to a season-high three games as well.

Reid is a power forward with a pro-style body and great hands. He is a very good skater with good balance and leg strength, but needs to develop a quicker first step. Reid is a smart player who sees the ice really well. He possesses a powerful shot. One area where Reid excels is playing around the net. He has good net presence and is aggressive when driving to the net. While Reid possesses many of the tools necessary to succeed at the collegiate level and beyond, he has yet to put them all together. And what has many scouts excited about Reid is what he'll be able to do once he does.

10. Brendan Woods, LW
Freshman, University of Wisconsin
Ht/Wt: 6'3, 200 lbs. Shoots: L
DoB: 6/11/92

Despite having gone undrafted the previous two years, Wisconsin freshman Brendan Woods is still very much on the scouting radar these days. The Fairfax, VA native posted ten points (five goals, five assists) and led the Badgers with 67 penalty minutes in 34 games this season. Woods is the son of current Anaheim Ducks assistant coach Bob Woods. Although he played much of the season on wing, Woods did see time at center as well. His progress over the course of the season earned him Wisconsin's Otto Breitenbach Award as the team's Most Improved Player.

Woods is a rugged winger with size that could potentially blossom into a dominant power forward. He uses his frame, reach, and strength quite well in the tough areas, particularly in front of the net. Woods competes and has shown a willingness to pay a price to create scoring opportunities. He has powerful shot with a good release and has a great understanding of the game. He also doesn't shy away from the physical aspects of the game. Woods is a very good skater, but could stand to improve his footwork a bit. He is however strong on his skates and can be difficult to move off the puck. While Woods has made significant strides in his overall development this season, he needs to continue to find some consistency to his game.

Other Notables: Sahir Gill, LW/C – Boston University; Matt Killian, D – Yale; Jarrod Rabey, D/F – St. Cloud State University; Joakim Ryan, D – Cornell.

 

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