NCAA Top 40 prospects for the 2006 Entry Draft

By DJ Powers

Hockey’s Future’s top 40 NCAA players eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft is comprised of seven goaltenders, 12 defensemen and 21 forwards. These 40 players represent 20 schools in four NCAA conferences (CCHA, ECACHL, Hockey East and the WCHA). Amongst the conferences, the CCHA has the most representation with 13, followed by Hockey East (11), the ECACHL (10) and the WCHA (6). Amongst the schools, the University of Michigan has the most players ranked with five, followed by Boston College, Michigan State University and Yale University with four apiece.

Each player’s section includes a 2005-06 season recap, talent analysis and features some brief comments from their respective coaches. Those appearing on the NHL’s Central Scouting’s final rankings are so noted.

T1. Phil Kessel, C – Freshman, University of Minnesota
6’0 189 lbs. DOB: 10/2/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 5th among North American skaters

May 2006 feature on Kessel

T1. Jonathan Toews, C/W – Freshman, University of North Dakota
6’2 195 lbs. DOB: 4/29/88
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 3rd among North American skaters

April 2006 feature on Toews

3. Mark Mitera, D – Freshman, University of Michigan
6’3 202 lbs. DOB: 10/22/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 20th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: The Livonia, MI native enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign that included time with Team USA at the 2006 IIHF WJC this past winter. Mitera finished with ten points (all assists) playing in 39 games for the maize and blue. His outstanding season earned him an honorable mention to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. Most recently, Mitera became a recipient of the University of Michigan’s Athletic Academic Achievement award and has been invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp in August for the 2007 IIHF WJC.

Talent Analysis: Mitera is a superb combination of size, strength, toughness and skating ability. For a man his size, Mitera skates extremely well with smooth yet powerful strides. He can deliver some bone-crushing checks and doesn’t shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He takes full advantage of his size and strength in playing his position. Mitera possesses some great puck skills along with a hard, cannon-like shot that allow him to potentially develop into more than just your average defensive defenseman.

University of Michigan head coach Red Berenson’s comments on Mitera: “Mark had a strong role as a freshman this year and I’d anticipate that would just continue to grow. I think his game, strength, and confidence will all improve next year. I think he’ll start adding some things to his game that maybe we didn’t see in his freshman year. The one thing that you don’t see on the ice is the kind of kid he is. Mark is a terrific kid who is very serious about his game and his education.”

4. Jeff Zatkoff, G – Freshman, Miami (OH) University
6’2 160 lbs. DOB: 6/9/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 3rd among North American goaltenders

2005-06 season: The Chesterfield, MI native’s sensational rookie season helped the RedHawks capture their first CCHA regular season title in over a decade. He posted a 14-5-1 record that included three shutouts in 20 appearances. Zatkoff ranks sixth in the nation in save percentage (.928) and fourth in both goals against average (2.02) and winning percentage (.725). Among the accolades he received was being named Miami’s Rookie of the Year. Most recently, Zatkoff was invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp for the 2007 IIHF WJC.

Talent Analysis: Zatkoff is a goaltender with size that is extremely poised, confident and mature. What sets Zatkoff apart from many other big goaltenders is his tremendous athleticism. He possesses great reflexes and is good in his lateral movements. Zatkoff is also a fierce competitor and does an excellent job of staying square to shooters. While Zatkoff does a good job of steering pucks away from the crease, his puck handling, particularly in controlling rebounds is an area that should improve with continued growth and development.

Miami University head coach Enrico Blasi’s comments on Zatkoff: “Jeff is a quality young man and very mature for his age. He understands what he needs to do and how hard he needs to work. His maturity and character are what have made him, I think, such a great individual. He’s always had the talent and the ability to play the position but Jeff’s maturity is what’s allowed him to have success real early at the collegiate level.”

5. Simon Danis-Pepin, D – Freshman, University of Maine
6’7 208 lbs. DOB: 4/11/88
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 61stamong North American skaters

2005-06 season: Watching Danis-Pepin’s incredible progress in the course of his rookie year has been quite fascinating. He was the youngest player in Hockey East this season. The Vaudreil-Dorion, Quebec native blossomed from an awkward, almost timid behemoth on the blue line in October to a more confident and comfortable defenseman by season’s end. In 23 games, Danis-Pepin posted five points and was named the recipient of the team’s Jack Semler award for the Most Improved Player.

Talent Analysis: Danis-Pepin is a towering defenseman who is very much a work in progress that is still trying to fill out a 6’7 body. His size has been a tremendous asset and he has learned to use it well to his advantage. Two areas that have been even more impressive are his great hockey sense and his understanding of how to play his position effectively. He has good offensive capabilities and a keen awareness of his surroundings, particularly in the defensive zone. While Danis-Pepin skates well, his speed is an area of concern that should improve as he continues to mature and develop.

University of Maine head coach Tim Whitehead’s comments on Danis-Pepin: “The most intriguing thing about Simon is how much he improved during the year and how he was able to jumped into all situations. His work ethic has been just unbelievable in how hard he’s trained to be able to do that. Initially it was tough for Simon to adjust to the speed of the game because he jumped up to college from below the junior A level.”

6. Benn Ferriero, C/RW – Freshman, Boston College
5’10 185 lbs. DOB: 4/29/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 90th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Ferriero (pronounced “fair-ee-o”) became a major contributor to the Eagles successful run to the Frozen Four this season. The Essex, MA native led all Boston College rookies in scoring with 25 points (16 goals, nine assists) playing in all 42 games. His 16 goals ranked third on the team. Ferriero’s stellar rookie season earned him a selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and a share of Boston College’s Bernie Burke Outstanding Freshman Award. Most recently, Ferriero became one of three Eagles invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp in August for the 2007 WJC.

Talent Analysis: Ferriero is a tenacious, fiercely competitive forward who plays equally well at both ends of the ice. He has great hockey instincts and does a superb job of reading and following plays. While Ferriero may be small he is by no means weak. His strength makes him a difficult player to move off of the puck and the way he plays his game makes covering him a daunting task for opposing defenders. Ferriero has shown a willingness to go to and take the punishment in front of the net to create scoring opportunities. He is also powerful skater. While his offensive ability is outstanding, Ferriero could stand to shoot the puck more often.

Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s comments on Ferriero: Benn is a very good two-way hockey player. That’s one aspect of his game that may be underrated. He’s definitely has an upside. Guys can always work on their skating but the hockey instincts and tenacity are tough to teach and Benn has both of those things. He’s going to be a fun player to watch over the next couple of years.”

7. Zach Jones, D – Freshman, University of North Dakota
5’11 191 lbs. DOB: 1/14/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 97th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: The younger brother of former UND and current Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Matt Jones enjoyed a very solid rookie year for the Fighting Sioux this season. He posted six points (all assists) playing in all 46 games this season. Jones finished fourth on the team with 93 penalty minutes. He posted his first two collegiate points on Dec. 2-3 in the weekend series versus Michigan Tech. Most recently, Jones was invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp in August.

Talent Analysis: Zach Jones, in many respects, will remind people of his brother Matt. Both play an ultra-competitive, aggressive style and are very reliable defensively. Zach is a defensive defenseman that plays his game simply yet intelligently. One of the more remarkable qualities about Jones is how effectively he plays against bigger opposing forwards. His strength and scrappy nature allows him to not only shut them down but also wreak havoc on them. While Jones has shown that he does have some puck skills, it isn’t one of his strongest areas but it should improve with growth, time and development.

University of North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol’s comments on Jones: “When you watch Zach, he’s not a guy who tries to do too much. He makes the right play, the simple play and the efficient play. The intensity level that he brings is hard to match. I think the first thing that Zach’s teammates will say about him is the type of competitor that he is. That’s something that’s contagious throughout the bench.”

8. Tim Filangieri, D – Freshman, Boston College
6’2 195 lbs. DOB: 8/18/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 150th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Despite a shoulder problem that plagued Filangieri (pronounced “fill-n-jerry”) throughout the season, he became a key component in the Eagles near-perfect season, playing in all 42 games. The Islip Terrace, NY native posted four points (two goals, two assists). Both of Filangieri’s goals came on Nov. 26 versus Merrimack, earning him his lone Hockey East Rookie of the Week honor. Most recently, Filangieri became one of three Boston College players invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp for the WJC.

Talent Analysis: Filangieri is a rugged stay-at-home defenseman with superb skating ability. He is a fierce competitor who utilizes his size and strength very effectively in containing opposing players and clearing bodies from in front of his net. He is strong on skates and moves quite well up and down the ice. Filangieri is a very smart player who keeps things simple and is very conscientious defensively. He also possesses a very hard, heavy shot. While Filangieri has the ability to put the puck in the net, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll ever become an offensive-defenseman.

Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s comments on Filangieri: “I can’t say enough about Tim as a player. He has size and ‘farm boy’ strength. He’s just really strong and has great defensive instincts. He’s also got a great work ethic and I think he’s one of the top defensive defensemen in the league. Tim played the whole year with a torn labrum in his shoulder and that limited him. The operation went well, the rehab is going great and he’ll return this fall at 100 percent.”

9. Alec Richards, G – Freshman, Yale University
6’4 190 lbs. DOB: 6/29/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 17th among North American goaltenders

2005-06 season: The Robbinsdale, MN native played in 29 games this season, posting an 8-15-3 record that included one shutout. While his record may not reflect it, Richards was brilliant for the Elis this season and nowhere was he better than in the ECACHL playoffs versus Union College on March 4. In that game, he made 57 saves to help Yale earn the 3-2 win in the fifth overtime. Richards, who is coached at Yale by former New York Rangers great Mike Richter, was named the team’s co-recipient of the Martin Dwyer III Award as the top Rookie of the Year.

Talent Analysis: Richards is a huge, very technically sound goaltender who plays his position with a maturity that is well beyond his years. He is exceptionally efficient in his body movements. He plays the game with a great deal of poise and confidence and isn’t one to get rattled easily. Richards has very good rebound control and does a great job of clearing away (and out) loose pucks. He also possesses a very good glove and is quite effective in playing down low and on his angles. One thing Richards could stand to do more often is come out and challenge shooters.

Yale associate head coach C.J. Marottolo’s comments on Richards: “Alec’s got an unbelievable demeanor. He doesn’t let many things rattle him, which I thought was very impressive for a kid coming right out of Minnesota high school hockey. Alec gave us a chance to win every game that he played in this season and we’ll be expecting Alec to make more of a jump as a sophomore in a lot of aspects of his game and he’ll be expecting that of himself too.”

10. Cody Wild, D – Freshman, Providence College
6’1 183 lbs. DOB: 6/5/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 115th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: The local product made quite a splash in his rookie season with Providence that culminated with a selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. Wild led all Friars rookies and defensemen in scoring with 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 36 appearances. One of his most memorable games came on Dec. 21 in the opening match of the Providence College Holiday Tournament, where he notched a goal and an assist to lead the Friars to a 7-1 win over Colgate. Most recently, Wild was named the recipient of the team’s Rev. Herman Schneider Award, which is given to the most valuable freshman.

Talent Analysis: Wild is a very smart defenseman who is blessed with natural offensive ability. He is an excellent skater with speed and is very active. One of Wild’s greatest attributes is his decision-making capability. He finds and utilizes open spaces on the ice quite effectively and knows when to jump into plays. Wild has great hands and the ability to get his shots to the net. He works and competes hard as well. While he is sound defensively and is willing to play the body, they are areas that Wild will need to continue to strengthen to succeed at the next level.

Providence College head coach Tim Army’s comments on Wild: “I think Cody’s an extremely talented player. He fits perfectly into what we’re trying to do here at Providence. He has sort of a carefree attitude about him. He doesn’t play to the clock or the score. He’s just playing. He can be a little bit risky and I want him to be risky in a good way because that’s the way an offensive defenseman can be effective and have an impact on the game.”

11. Billy Sauer, G – Freshman, University of Michigan
6’2 170 lbs. DOB: 1/6/88
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 13th among North American goaltenders

2005-06 season: The 2005-06 season proved to be both a challenge and a valuable learning experience for the Walworth, NY native. Sauer appeared in 23 games for the maize and blue, posting an 11-6-4 record that included one shutout. His lone shutout (and one of his most memorable outings) came on his 18th birthday on Jan. 6. In that game, Sauer made 26 saves to help lead Michigan to a 4-0 win over Alaska Fairbanks.

Talent Analysis: Sauer is a tall, lanky goaltender with terrific athleticism and quickness. While he is still very much a project, Sauer showed glimpses of his vast potential. He has an excellent skill set that needs to be refined. Sauer has great reflexes and is virtually impenetrable when he is on his game. He is a competent puck-handler and has a good glove. He can stay square to shooters and has shown a willingness to come out and challenge as well. Sauer’s confidence was an issue at times throughout the season but growth, maturity and experience should help build that over time.

University of Michigan head coach Red Berenson’s comments on Sauer: “I like the kid, I like the athlete and he’s definitely, if he keeps his head on straight because he’s got a good attitude, going to be fine. Billy knows his game and knows the kind of player that he’s trying to become. He’s a good learner and a good worker. He’ll be striving year after year to become the best goalie that he can and he’ll have my confidence in doing that.”

12. Ben Street, C – Freshman, University of Wisconsin
5’11 170 lbs. DOB: 2/13/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 191st among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Street was probably the best player on the Wisconsin roster this season that almost no one was talking about. The Coquitlam, BC native was one of just six Badgers to play in all 43 games this season and the only player on the team who didn’t register a single penalty minute. He notched 15 points (ten goals, five assists). One of Street’s most memorable performances came in the NCAA Semi-Final versus Maine on April 6. In that contest, he posted a goal to help lead the Badgers to a 5-2 win and a spot in the national championship game.

Talent Analysis: Street is an extremely intelligent player who is quite meticulous in his approach to the game. Not surprisingly, he is also the consummate student of the game. Street is a player that works and competes hard yet draws very little attention to himself. One of the most impressive attributes about Street is his great ability in assessing situations on the ice. He has great awareness, especially as far as where his teammates are and has a knack for picking his spots on the ice carefully. He is strong on skates and has good speed. In addition, Street possesses a heavy shot to go along with a very quick release.

University of Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves’ comments on Street: “I think Ben’s going to be one of those young men that’s just going to get better and better that people will come to know as a real quality hockey player. Ben does a lot of little things well. He’s the same way off the ice with his schoolwork as well. I think his head for the game is one of his strongest attributes without question. The thing that folks should know is Ben is subtly very good.”

13. Jonathan Rheault, RW – Sophomore, Providence College
5’10 202 lbs. DOB: 8/1/86
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 96th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: The Deering, NH native had a tumultuous start to his sophomore campaign but ended it very strongly by being named co-recipient of the team’s Lou Lamoriello Award as Most Valuable Player. Rheault played in 35 games this season, registering 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists). His 16 goals and eight power play goals both led the Friars. One of Rheault’s most memorable games came on March 3, when he posted thee points (two goals, one assist) to help lead Providence to a 5-3 win over Merrimack.

Talent Analysis: This season saw a more mature Rheault emerge and his team benefited greatly from it. He is a dynamic offensive player with explosive speed. While Rheault is a very good playmaker, this season he took up a notch by being more creative and utilizing his linemates more effectively. He is solid defensively and is superb on the penalty kill. Rheault is a fierce competitor who plays with a great deal of energy. He possesses a terrific shot with a very quick release. As he continues to grow in all areas of the game, Rheault will prove to be an even more valuable asset to his team and a bigger problem for opposing teams.

Providence College head coach Tim Army’s comments on Rheault: “I think Jon’s game has really matured in a lot of ways. He’s being more responsible both to himself and to his team. He’s also making an effort to understand how important positioning is and winning battles when you don’t have the puck. It’s been a real good growth to his game and I’m very pleased with Jon’s development and very excited about what he’s going to provide next year for us.”

14. Mark Dekanich, G – Sophomore, Colgate University
6’2 192 lbs. DOB: 5/10/86
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 20th among North American goaltenders

2005-06 season: Dekanich’s exceptional, record-setting season helped earn the Raiders a share of the ECACHL regular season title. The North Vancouver, BC native was an absolute workhorse for Colgate playing in 36 of 39 games. He set a new school record for saves in a single season with 988. He posted an 18-11-6 record that included four shutouts. Dekanich was named the recipient of the ECACHL’s Ken Dryden Award for Goaltender of the Year after leading the conference with a 1.98 goals against average and a .934 save percentage.

Talent Analysis: Dekanich is a very fundamentally sound goaltender with very good size. He has great athleticism and moves well laterally. He is excellent on his angles and has a good glove. Dekanich plays the game with a tremendous amount of focus and poise and is a tireless worker. He is a very good puck-handler and does a nice job of controlling his rebounds. During the NHL lockout year, Dekanich had the opportunity to work with Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Robert Esche. Working with Esche proved invaluable to Dekanich in helping to not only improve his overall game but his confidence as well.

Colgate University head coach Don Vaughan’s comments on Dekanich: “Mark is very committed to not only his position but to his work ethic and habits that way. He’s extremely driven. I think he’s got a huge upside and has got a lot of qualities that I think a lot of pro teams look for in a goaltender. I just think that there’s a real good goaltender in Mark that’s only going to continue to get better. He led our league in all of the categories.”

15. Jack Christian, D – Freshman, Harvard University
6’2 215 lbs. DOB: 5/31/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 164th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Christian enjoyed an outstanding rookie campaign as part of Harvard’s outstanding defensive corps. The Wilton, CT native played in 32 games this season and posted three points (all assists). Christian notched his first collegiate point on Oct. 29 in the Crimson’s season-opener versus Dartmouth. He played much of the season, particularly in the second half, alongside team captain Peter Hafner (FLA).

Talent Analysis: Christian is an ultra-physical defensive defenseman who combines enormous size and strength with great skating ability. He skates with fluid yet very powerful strides and moves remarkably well for a big man. Christian’s size and strength not only make him difficult to play against but also to have to great around. He is very solid positionally and is great in one-on-one situations. Christian is a tough competitor and has no problem finishing his checks. He possesses a very hard and heavy shot. While Christian can chip in a goal once in a while, offense isn’t one of his strongest characteristics.

Harvard University head coach Ted Donato’s comments on Christian: “Jack’s a great competitor and he’s very well conditioned. I think he has a great opportunity to be successful in the future. He skates very well for a big kid of his size. In today’s NHL it is something that is becoming more and more necessary. His foot speed and size I think makes Jack a tremendous prospect. There’s a lot of potential there.”

16. Jimmy Fraser, C/W – Freshman, Harvard University
5’11 185 lbs. DOB: 1/16/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 175th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: The Port Huron, MI native led all Crimson rookies in scoring with 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) playing in 35 games. Two of his three goals came on the power play. Fraser also led the team with 54 penalty minutes. Fraser was instrumental in helping Harvard lay claim to their eighth ECACHL Tournament Championship, scoring two goals in the title game versus Cornell on March 18. Most recently, Fraser was invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp.

Talent Analysis: Fraser is an exciting, ultra-aggressive forward with blazing speed. He is an outstanding skater who at times seems to be all over the ice. One quality that makes Fraser such a wonderful player is his ability to easily adapt to virtually any type of situation. He plays both ends of the ice extremely well. Fraser is an intelligent player who does a very good job of reading and following plays and knows where to be on the ice to create plays. His speed and tenacity make him a difficult player to contain. Fraser is a tireless worker who also possesses great leadership skills.

Harvard University head coach Ted Donato’s comments on Fraser: “Jimmy has some unrealized offensive upside. I don’t think you can ever gauge until you really know a kid closely how competitive he is and how much he wants it, to be able to measure that desire and heart of what makes a guy tick. Jimmy is highly competitive, has great character, and really wants to become a hockey player. That’s why I think he’s a guy that has some success ahead of him.”

17. Jason Lawrence, C/W – Freshman, Boston University
5’10 183 lbs. DOB: 2/2/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 178th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Lawrence was a part of the Terriers’ exciting rookie trio that included Brandon Yip (COL) and Chris Higgins this season. The Saugus, MA native registered 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 40 appearances. One of his most memorable games came on Feb. 6 in the Beanpot Tournament semis. In that game, he posted three points (one goal, two assists) to help lead Boston University to a 5-3 win over Harvard. Most recently, Lawrence was invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp.

Talent Analysis: Lawrence is a smart, tenacious forward who is outstanding around the net. He is able to find and create space for his linemates and can be the proverbial thorn in the sides of opposing goaltenders. He has also shown a willingness to go into heavy traffic areas to create scoring opportunities. Lawrence is a strong skater with speed. He is excellent in the corners and along the boards and can often be found ferociously battling for puck possession. Lawrence has a terrific shot and great offensive capability but could stand the shoot the puck more.

Boston University head coach Jack Parker’s comments on Lawrence: “I think Jason’s biggest asset is that he’s real good from the dots down in the attacking zone. He’s going to be one of those guys that always gets on the score sheet and always finds a way to get big goals. Jason is also a real good teammate. He cares about what the other guys, whether they’re his linemates or not, on the team feel. He’s unselfish in that way.”

18. Jonathan Matsumoto, C – Sophomore, Bowling Green State University
6’0 184 lbs. DOB: 10/13/86
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 117th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Matsumoto, along with Alex Foster (TOR), made up one of the nation’s most potent offensive duos this season. Matsumoto finished second on the Falcons team in scoring with 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 36 games. The Orleans, ON native’s 20 goals and 12 power-play goals both led the team. One of Matsumoto’s most memorable games came on Oct. 15, when he posted his first career hat trick in BGSU’s 6-9 loss to Boston College.

Talent Analysis: A leaner, stronger and more mature Jonathan Matsumoto emerged this year. He is a creative playmaker who brings an infectious enthusiasm to his game. This season he has been able to channel that enthusiasm to other parts of his game, particularly on the defensive side. Matsumoto’s attention to the finer points of the game has also increased dramatically. He is a stronger skater and moves well traffic. He does good job of controlling and protecting the puck as well as passing it. Matsumoto also played with more grit and determination this year, resulting in more scoring chances and difficulty for the opposition.

Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch’s comments on Matsumoto: “From where he was when he got here through the end of his freshman year and where he is now, Jon has become very responsible on both sides of the puck. He’s taking more pride in his play at both ends of the ice and that’s been one of the biggest things with him. Jon’s all-around game has improved and I think that’s going to definitely help him when the time comes for him to move on.”

19. Nick Sucharski, C/W – Freshman, Michigan State University
6’1 165 lbs. DOB: 11/15/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 140th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Sucharski made his collegiate debut in November after missing the first month of the season with mononucleosis. The Toronto native played in 36 games this season and registered seven points (two goals, five assists). Both of Sucharski’s goals were game-winners. He posted his first goal and his first multiple-point game on Jan. 6-7 in Michigan State’s weekend sweep of Wayne State. The weekend performance also earned Sucharski his lone CCHA Rookie of the Week honor.

Talent Analysis: Sucharski is an intelligent, energetic centerman who possesses excellent passing ability. While his wonderful overall skill set still needs refining, Sucharski has shown glimpses of how much potential he has. He works and competes hard and is very persistent in the various facets of his game. He has shown a willingness to drive hard to the net and go into high traffic areas to create scoring chances. He is a very good skater with speed. Like with so many young players, getting stronger will be key to Sucharski’s future success.

Michigan State head coach Rick Comley’s comments on Sucharski: “Nick’s definitely got a real good upside but I don’t think we’ve seen what his real skills are yet. He fought an uphill battle this year, because he had mono. The perception is that Nick is going to be a very good offensive player before it’s said and done. He’s a player that I expect to be much more of a critical player for us from the standpoint that he is going to play a lot more in better situations next year.”

20. Brett Motherwell, D – Freshman, Boston College
5’10 195 lbs. DOB: 9/11/86
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 185th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Motherwell was part of Boston College’s outstanding young defensive corps that was so crucial in their run to the Frozen Four and earned a spot on the NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament team. Motherwell played in all 42 games and registering 23 points (four goals, 19 assists). The St. Charles, Ill. native capped his stellar freshman season with a selection to the Hockey East All-Rookie team and a share of Boston College’s Bernie Burke Outstanding Freshman Award.

Talent Analysis: Motherwell is a small yet incredibly strong defenseman with great offensive instincts. He possesses outstanding puck skills and can make gorgeous passes. His skating is a wonderful combination of strength and speed and seems to be constantly in motion. Motherwell has great on-ice vision and has a keen sense of knowing when to jump into plays. He is also fiercely competitive. He possesses a very heavy shot and will shoot as often as the opportunity presents itself. As good as Motherwell is offensively he is equally as good defensively.

Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s comments on Motherwell: “Probably the best part about Brett’s game is that he’s got terrific power play skills and can really shoot the puck. He’s got a pro shot. Brett is a little undersized body-wise but he’s thick. His strength has never been an issue. With Peter (Harrold) gone, we’re expecting Brett to be our main quarterback on the power play next season.”

21. Christopher Higgins, C/W – Freshman, Boston University
5’10 170 lbs. DOB: 4/30/86
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 159th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: Higgins’ collegiate career got off to a rather slow start but really took off in the season half season. The Lynnfield, MA native registered 21 points (eights goals, 13 assists) playing on one of the nation’s most exciting young lines. Higgins was one of three Terriers to notch a hat trick this season. His most memorable performance came in the Beanpot Tournament semi-final game versus Harvard on Feb. 6. The goal he scored in the game will go down as one of the year’s best highlight reel goals.

Talent Analysis: Higgins is a dynamic and tenacious player who is really fun to watch. He combines speed and quickness with great poise and patience with the puck. Despite his small stature, Higgins is a difficult player to contain and move off of the puck. He is also strong on his skates and moves quite well through traffic. He possesses a quick release and a terrific wrist-shot. Higgins was utilized at center quite a bit this season due to his excellent defensive play. Aside from continuing to grow into his body, Higgins could stand to play the body more.

Boston University head coach Jack Parker’s comments on Higgins: “He’s a very, very clever guy who can undress people and make flashy plays. The thing that jumped out at me all year long was the fact that even though he was only freshman, it seemed like whenever the puck got on his stick and I was on the bench, I could relax. I knew nothing bad was going to happen. He doesn’t get rattled and nothing makes him nervous out there.”

22. David Meckler, C – Freshman, Yale University
6’0 184 lbs. DOB: 7/9/87
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 205th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: The Highland Park, Ill. native is best remembered for scoring the shorthanded, game-winner in the five-overtime marathon in the opening round of the ECACHL playoffs versus Union College on March 4. Overall, Meckler posted ten points (seven goals, three assists) in 31 games. His seven goals led all Yale rookies. Of his seven goals this season, three came on special teams (two on the power play and one short-handed).

Talent Analysis: Meckler is a hard-working forward blessed with great puck skills who has the ability to get pucks to the net. He can play both the center and wing positions. He is a smooth skater with good speed. Meckler is also a very smart player who possesses very good on-ice vision. While Meckler is known more as an offensive forward, he has shown that he can be defensively responsible as well. He possesses a quick release to his shot. Meckler plays his game with a competitive edge and is willing to play the body when necessary.

Yale associate head coach C.J. Marottolo’s comments on Meckler: “David was the youngest player on our team this year. What stands out to me the most about David is he has a tremendous desire to score and he has an NHL release. He shoots the puck with a purpose every time he shoots it. He is an unbelievably low maintenance kid. You don’t have to tell David anything. You just say that this is the way it’s going to be and he does it.”

23. Chad Johnson, G – Freshman, University of Alaska (Fairbanks)
6’2 183 lbs. DOB: 6/10/86
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 21st among North American goaltenders

2005-06 season: Johnson, along with sophomore Wylie Rogers, gave the Nanooks one of the CCHA’s best goaltending tandems this season. The Calgary, AB native posted a 6-7-4 record that included a .917 save percentage in 18 appearances. Johnson’s most memorable outing came on Oct. 15 versus Minnesota, where he posted a 38-save performance to preserve a 3-3 tie for the Nanooks in his collegiate debut. Most recently, Johnson was named this year’s recipient of UAF’s Doug Desorcie Award, which is given to the team’s top rookie.

Talent Analysis: Johnson is a goaltender who is very efficient in his body movements and makes tremendous use of his large frame in covering the net. One of Johnson’s greatest attributes is his meticulous and professional approach to his game. He is the consummate student, always searching for ways to play his position better and more effectively. Johnson possesses a great glove, plays his angles quite well and does a very good job of staying with opposing shooters. While he has good size, Johnson needs to continue to add strength to it.

Alaska (Fairbanks) head coach Tavis MacMillan’s comments on Johnson: “Chad is probably as poised of a goaltender that I’ve coached or seen. He is so respectful of his position and wants to constantly know more about it and get better at it. Everything he does is calculated. When he plays calm and cool, it really permeates throughout our team. Chad has all of the gifts to be successful not only at this level but at the next level too.”

24. Michael Brennan, D – Sophomore, Boston College
6’0 190 lbs. DOB: 1/24/86
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: 210th among North American skaters

2005-06 season: The 2005-06 season saw the emergence of a more confident and all-around stronger Mike Brennan. Brennan helped bring stability to one of the nation’s best and youngest defensive corps. The Smithtown, NY native finished with 12 points (two goals, ten assists) playing in all 42 games this season. Both of Brennan’s goals came in post-season play. He finished second on the team in penalty minutes (87) and fifth in plus/minus (+20). Brennan will serve as one of Boston College’s assistant captains this fall.

Talent Analysis: Brennan is probably one of Hockey East’s most underrated defensemen. He is an excellent skating defensive defenseman. His increased maturity, strength and confidence levels can be seen in his leadership, overall effectiveness and great decision-making ability. Brennan plays exceptionally well in his own end but this season has done a better job of taking away passing and shooting lanes as well. While he isn’t much of an offensive player, he can chip in goals once in a while and possesses a hard, quick release to his shots.

Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s comments on Brennan: “Mike is going to be a defensive defenseman if he ever plays in the NHL because that’s where he is. He doesn’t make many defensive mistakes. The one area that sets him above anything else is his locker room presence. He is a terrific leader in the locker room. When you talk about intangibles, Mike has that. He’s just a great team guy and a great student in the classroom.”

25. Tim Miller, LW – Freshman, University of Michigan
6’1 190 lbs. DOB: 3/6/87

2005-06 season: Miller became a solid contributor as part of the Wolverines large and talent-laden freshman class this season. The Davisburg, MI native posted 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 41 games. His most memorable performance came in the GLI third place game on Dec. 30. In that contest, he posted a goal and an assist to help lead Michigan to a 5-3 win over Michigan Tech. Most recently, Miller was named a recipient of the University of Michigan’s Athletic Academic Achievement award.

Talent Analysis: Miller can best be described as an ultra-aggressive player that you’d love to have on your team but would hate to have to play against. He brings an element of nastiness to his game that makes him an intimating presence whenever he’s on the ice. Miller has great defensive abilities and could become a very good defensive forward at the next level. He has great on-ice vision and hockey sense. He uses his size and strength to great advantage in maintaining puck control. If Miller can increase his offensive output, he can become an even bigger headache to the opposition in the future.

University of Michigan head coach Red Berenson’s comments on Miller: “Tim sees himself as a hard-working, defensive player who is physical and can kill penalties and we do too. I think Tim’s toughness is a real strength in his game that some people maybe haven’t seen. That’s one of the intangibles that he brings to our team. He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid with a mean streak to him. He can handle an emotional and physical confrontation or game.”

26. Alec Martinez, D – Freshman, Miami University
6’1 190 lbs. DOB: 7/26/87

2005-06 season: If the saying “good things come to those who wait” applied to any player this year, it applied to Alec Martinez. The Rochester, MI native became one of the most promising young defensemen to emerge out of the CCHA this season. Martinez had a very strong finish to his rookie season, posting 11 points (three goals, eight assists) and appearing in all 39 games. All three of his goals came in the CCHA Quarterfinal matches versus Western Michigan on March 10 and 11. The RedHawks swept the Broncos in the series.

Talent Analysis: The first thing that jumps out about Martinez is how beautiful his skating is. He combines long, very fluid strides with terrific speed. Martinez’s tremendous skating ability allows him to skate and stay with many speedy opposing players as well as jump up into plays. He is very solid positionally and does an excellent job of staying with his assignment. Martinez has great offensive potential and wonderful puck skills. While he will aggressively challenge opposing forwards, Martinez is not overly physical. His most glaring weakness is his strength.

Miami University head coach Enrico Blasi’s comments on Martinez: “Alec is not a player who is going to become a banger or crasher. He doesn’t have to be. His skating was one of the biggest reasons why recruited him. I think he can bring a lot of offense to the table because of his speed and his decision-making. He’s very dependable and somebody who is out there in key situations at all times. I don’t think I’ve seen him once get beat one-on-one.”

27. Bryan Lerg, F – Sophomore, Michigan State University
5’10 185 lbs. DOB: 4/30/86

2005-06 season: The 2005-06 season became a banner year for Bryan Lerg. He finished second on the team in scoring with 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists). The Livonia, MI native was one of only four Spartans who played in all 45 games this season. Lerg’s most memorable performance came on Dec. 2, when he notched his second career hat trick to guide Michigan State to a 3-0 win over Bowling Green. Lerg’s stellar season earned him two team awards – Outstanding Offensive Player and the Most Improved Player.

Talent Analysis: Lerg is a dynamic forward who plays with a lot of tenacity. In the second half of the season, his overall game really took off thanks in large part to his increased maturity and confidence levels. He is a skater with tremendous speed and quickness. One of Lerg’s best attributes is his creative playmaking ability. He can make something out of nothing and has great poise with the puck. He possesses great vision, is defensively sound and has a keen sense of what is happening around him. If Lerg continues to really develop his all-around game, then the sky is the limit to how far he’ll go at the next level.

Michigan State head coach Rick Comley’s comments on Lerg: “Bryan continues to grow and his game is improving all the time. He had almost 40 points this year. I just think that we’ll get more points out of him as he gets more confident and older. He has all of the abilities to be a well-rounded player both offensively and defensively. He’s one of those 5’10 kids that can play at a higher level because he likes contact and initiates contact and plays in traffic.”

28. Brian McCafferty, D – Freshman, Harvard University
6’0 205 lbs. DOB: 6/20/86

2005-06 season: McCafferty became one of the best draft eligible defensemen that was off of just about everyone’s radar. The Lexington, MA native spent much of the season playing alongside junior Dylan Reese (NYR) on the Crimson’s top defensive unit. McCafferty played in all 35 games and posted 15 points (two goals, 13 assists). His most memorable outing came on March 17, when he posted three assists in helping to lead Harvard to a crushing 10-1 win over Dartmouth in the ECACHL Semi-Finals. McCafferty’s outstanding season earned him the team’s George Pearcy Award winner as the top freshman.

Talent Analysis: McCafferty is an instinctive, offensive-minded defenseman who possesses a lot of poise and confidence with the puck. In addition to his scoring capabilities, McCafferty also makes great passes. He is a fluid yet powerful skater with decent speed. His skating ability allows him to not only jump up into plays and transition well but move with the puck effectively. McCafferty has good on-ice vision and is very solid in the defensive zone. Two areas that he could stand to improve are his overall physical strength and playing the body more.

Harvard head coach Ted Donato’s comments on McCafferty: “What Brian did as a freshman here has been vastly overlooked by far too many people. We thought that he had an incredible year for us and we used him all situations. The last half of the year Brian ended up being a first power play unit defenseman for us. There is no indecision to Brian when there’s a play that needs to be made and when there’s going to be opposition there.”

29. Chris Davis, C – Freshman, University of Massachusetts
5’10 190 lbs. DOB: 9/10/86

2005-06 season: Davis was one of the most promising yet least talked about players to come out of Hockey East this season. His stellar rookie campaign was capped off with being named co-recipient of the team’s Rookie of the Year honor. The Simsbury, CT native led all Minutemen rookies in scoring with18 points (nine goals, nine assists). One of Davis’ most memorable performances came on Nov. 22 when he notched the game-winner to give UMass their first win at Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse in nearly three years.

Talent Analysis: Davis has the potential to be a very good two-way forward because of his great vision and awareness at both ends of the ice. He does an excellent job of utilizing openings on the ice, especially along the boards and when driving to the net. He is a powerful skater with a good burst speed. Davis is a player who plays with a great deal of intensity to his game and seems to be always searching for ways to make his game better. While Davis has shown a willingness to play the body, it is an area where he could stand to put more emphasis on.

UMass head coach Don Cahoon’s comments on Davis: “Chris reminds of a player that I used to work with at BU named Eddie Ronan. A two-way type of player with real good skating skills and real good, natural hockey strength, who’ll score timely goals, but isn’t necessarily a big time point producer. Chris certainly has a big upside because he does so many things well. He’ll be a real good contributor to any team at the next level some day.”

30. Jeff Lerg, G – Freshman, Michigan State University
5’6 150 lbs. DOB: 4/9/86

2005-06 season: If the phrase “good things come in small packages” befits anyone in NCAA hockey, it’s Jeff Lerg. The diminutive Spartans netminder was as big as they came in goal this season. The CCHA Rookie of Year capped a brilliant season with a record of 17-6-6 that included three shutouts. His 1.96 goals against average ranks third in the nation while his .928 save percentage ranks seventh. Lerg, who garnered numerous honors this season, led Michigan State to their 11th Mason Cup Championship and first since 2001.

Talent Analysis: Lerg does an excellent job of utilizing his athleticism and skills to help compensate for his lack of size in playing his position effectively. He is a goaltender who is extremely athletic and possesses very quick reflexes. He is also tremendously poised, confident with a tireless work ethic. He possesses a good glove and has good rebound control. He also possesses good puck-handling abilities. Lerg’s reliability and consistency are two of the attributes that have helped make him successful at every level he has played at.

Michigan State head coach Rick Comley’s comments on Lerg: “He has the ability to make teams better and players play better with him in the net because they respect his approach, his workload, his preparation and his readiness. I wouldn’t put anything beyond this kid and I wouldn’t limit him. Being a good goaltender is a lot more than being 6’2 or just stopping pucks. Jeff is a very good goaltender and he has no significant holes in his game.”

31. Patrick Mullen, F – Freshman, University of Denver
5’10 170 lbs. DOB: 5/6/86

2005-06 season: The son of NHL Hall of Famer Joe Mullen got off to a slow start to his rookie season but it certainly didn’t finish that way. Injuries took a devastating toll on the Pioneers this season and when Mullen was called upon to help fill the holes, he answered the call big time. The Pittsburgh, PA native posted 17 points (seven goals, ten assists) in 37 appearances. Mullen’s most memorable performance came on Feb. 11, when he posted two goals to lead Denver to a 5-1 win over Minnesota State-Mankato.

Talent Analysis: Mullen is a small, driven forward who possesses outstanding passing ability. He knows how to complete tape-to-tape passes and does so with remarkable accuracy. Mullen is instinctive and has a keen sense of knowing where to be on the ice and makes very good use of open spaces to make the best possible plays. He skates with speed and near-effortless strides. He also has a very quick release to his shot. One of the lesser-known characteristics about Mullen is that he is the consummate student of the game.

University of Denver head coach George Gwozdecky’s comments on Mullen: “I don’t know if people realize that he is a terrific athlete and physically he’s a very tough young guy. He’s not a dominant physical presence and not by any means a big guy on the ice. He’s very strong and very powerful and I think at times will fool opponents and people watching the game because he’s able to fight through checks and fight through traffic when usually a guy his size will struggle with that.”

32. Nick Dodge, F – Sophomore, Clarkson University
5’10 178 lbs. DOB: 5/1/86

2005-06 season: Dodge made his sophomore campaign a year to remember. The Oakville, Ontario native led the Golden Knights in scoring with 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) playing in all 38 games this season. He excelled in the areas of face-offs and special teams. Where Dodge was particularly dangerous was in short-handed situations. His four short-handed goals ranks tied for fourth in the nation. Recently, Dodge was named the recipient of Clarkson’s Bill Harrison Award as the team’s most valuable player and will serve as team captain next season.

Talent Analysis: This season Dodge blossomed into a more complete and confident player. His confidence has allowed him to be more creative, assertive and make better decisions at both ends of the ice. Dodge is a smart, tireless worker who has the ability to make those around him better. He skates with good speed and possesses good quickness. Dodge is outstanding on draws and has become one of Clarkson’s faceoff specialists. He is very good around the net and along the boards. As good as Dodge is offensively, he is equally good defensively.

Clarkson head coach George Roll’s comments on Dodge: “Nick has ability but what makes him so special is that he combines that ability with a great work ethic and competitiveness. He reminds me of a lot of Steve Dubinsky, who played here when I was an assistant. Nick is a special kid on and off the ice. He is an exceptional student and approaches everything else the same way that he approaches hockey. He’s one of those guys that’s a true student-athlete.”

33. Michael Karwoski, F – Freshman, Yale University
5’9 185 lbs. DOB: 12/22/86

2005-06 season: Karwoski enjoyed an outstanding rookie campaign that ended with the Ivy League Rookie of the Year honor. The Greenlawn, NY native finished the season leading all Bulldogs rookies in scoring with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 32 games. Of his 17 points, 12 came in ECACHL play. His most memorable outing came on Dec. 5, when he notched a goal and an assist to help lead Yale to a 4-3 win over Harvard. Most recently, Karwoski was named co-recipient of the team’s Martin Dwyer III Award for Rookie of the Year.

Talent Analysis: Karwoski is a dynamic and exciting forward to watch. His scrappy and high-energy style allows him to be the perennial thorn in the opposition’s side. One of Karwoski’s best attributes is his ability to read and anticipate plays. He is a creative playmaker that is quite good around the net. He possesses great poise with the puck and will shoot the puck as often as the opportunity presents itself. He also skates with very good speed and acceleration. Like for almost all freshmen, continuing to add strength will be key to Karwoski’s future success.

Yale associate head coach C.J. Marottolo’s comments on Karwoski: “Michael sees and reads the offensive play better than anyone I’ve ever coached. I think in time, he’ll become a dominant offensive player in our league. I feel pretty good on the bench when he has the puck. I know that he’s going to make the right play with it. I can always count on Michael to always make the right decision, whether it’s to shoot the puck or to pass the puck.”

34. David Inman, D – Freshman, Yale University
6’0 211 lbs. DOB: 3/8/87

2005-06 season: As Yale’s youngest blueliner this season, Inman showed glimpses of a potentially great defenseman who can be solid contributor not only for the remainder of his collegiate career but possibly beyond that. He saw action in 26 games this season, posting four points (one goal, three assists). Inman’s first and only goal thus far came on Nov. 11 versus St. Lawrence. His most memorable game on Feb. 3 in Yale’s 4-6 loss to Dartmouth, when posted an assist and was a plus-2.

Talent Analysis: Inman is a budding two-way defenseman who makes very effective use of his size and strength in playing his position. He’s a very good skater with nice, long strides. One of Inman’s best attributes is his puck skills and it’s an area that hasn’t really been fully tapped into yet. He moves the puck quite well and does a very good job of making smart outlet passes. He also has a hard, quick release to his shots. Inman is a fierce competitor who is positionally very solid and doesn’t make many glaring mistakes in his own zone.

Yale associate head coach C.J. Marottolo’s comments on Inman: “I think David could become a very good transitional player for us because he passes the puck so well and can join the rush because he can skate. David was just trying to take care of his defense first, get his feet wet and feel things out a little bit. By the end of the year, he got much better positionally because he became more comfortable with the college game.”

35. Matt Lundin, G – Sophomore, University of Maine
6’0 172 lbs. DOB: 5/1/86

2005-06 season: The younger brother Black Bears defenseman Mike Lundin (TB) enjoyed a stellar sophomore season despite playing in just 14 games this season. The Apple Valley, MN native posted a 7-4-0 record that included three shutouts. He also posted an outstanding .934 save percentage and a 1.72 goals against average. One of Lundin’s most memorable outings came on Oct. 29 when he posted a 31-save, 4-0 shutout win over UMass. The shutout was his second of the season.

Talent Analysis: Lundin is a butterfly style goaltender that possesses great athleticism and quick reflexes. He is an intense competitor who is very focused. He reacts quite well to plays too. He has good glove and plays his angles capably. One attribute that stands out about Lundin is his great puck-handling ability. He does a very good job of clearing pucks away from his crease area and has good rebound control. Like so many young players, Lundin needs to continue to add weight and strength to be successful at the next level.

University of Maine head coach Tim Whitehead’s comments on Lundin: “He’s fiercely competitive. I think he’s a great prospect. When he played, he was fabulous. Matty handles the puck really well and has great reflexes too. His rebound control is very good and he sponges in the puck really well. I think more than likely someone is going to take a chance on him in the late rounds (of the draft) and will really be very happy that they did.”

36. Christopher Mueller, F – Sophomore, Michigan State University
5’11 183 lbs. DOB: 3/6/86

2005-06 season: Chris Mueller was off to a strong start to his sophomore year before suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games in late October. The West Seneca, NY native played in 41 games for MSU this season, posting 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists). He became one of the Spartans best players on face-offs, winning just over 51 percent of his draws. Mueller’s most memorable performance came on Nov.18, when he had a hand in all three Spartans goals in MSU’s 3-3 tie with Western Michigan.

Talent Analysis: Mueller is a tenacious, hard working forward who plays both ends of the ice extremely well. He is a very smart player with great vision. Mueller is very good not only around the net but also in the corners and along the boards. He has a hard, heavy shot and can play in just about any type of situation. He is a good skater who also moves well with the puck. Perhaps one of Mueller’s most underrated qualities his leadership skills. He leads by example and is willing to do whatever it takes for the betterment of his team.

Michigan State head coach Rick Comley’s comments on Mueller: “Chris is a defensive forward and it’s a role that he’s very good at. I do trust him tremendously to play against the best player on the other team. He’s still kind of growing and emerging as a player. His best talent for sure is his competitive approach to the game. He’s a player that comes to the rink every day to play and battle. I think Chris has gained a lot of respect in the locker room because of that.”

37. Tyler Swystun, C/W – Freshman, University of Michigan
5’11 170 lbs. DOB: 1/15/88

2005-06 season: As one of the CCHA’s youngest players this season, Swystun, despite being very raw and definitely a project, showed some very good things that could only get better as he develops. The Cochrane, AB native posted four points (two goals, two assists) in 36 games this season. He posted his first collegiate goal on Oct. 16 versus Merrimack. Swystun’s best weekend of the season came on Feb. 10-11, when he posted a goal and an assist to help Michigan earn a series split with Lake Superior State.

Talent Analysis: Swystun is a small, ultra-competitive forward with boundless energy. He’s a smooth skater who is very quick. He moves very well with the puck and through traffic. Swystun is a smart player who follows and supports plays well. He also possesses a great work ethic and his play around the net is quite good. He has shown a willingness to go into and take the punishment in high traffic areas to make plays. Swystun’s lack of strength is his most glaring weakness. As he gets stronger, he’ll become a force to be reckoned with.

Michigan head coach Red Berenson’s comments on Swystun: “He showed some flashes but never really got over the hump in terms of getting confidence and getting the kind of ice time that we would’ve like to have given him. But we saw some really good things in Tyler. I like his character, work ethic, and attitude. He has a lot of intangibles. I think he’s got a lot more in his game than we’ve seen. He’s a player that I’m hoping and expecting to take another step forward next season.”

38. Nicholas Kemp, RW – Freshman, University of Minnesota-Duluth
6’1 202 lbs. DOB: 1/5/86

2005-06 season: Kemp was thrust into seeing top line duty very early and did his job quite admirably. He saw much of his playing time this season alongside fellow rookies Mason Raymond (VAN) and MacGregor Sharp. The Hermantown, MN native posted 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 39 appearances this season. His most memorable performance came on Feb. 4, when he posted three points (one goal, two assists) to lead UMD to a 4-1 victory over Wisconsin. The performance also earned him the WCHA Rookie of the Week honor.

Talent Analysis: Kemp is a budding power forward who is fiercely competitive that played remarkably well this season against some of the league’s best defensemen. One of Kemp’s greatest attributes is his willingness to go into and take the punishment in high traffic areas to make plays. He is a skater with good speed who is strong on his skates. Kemp is smart and reads and anticipates plays very well. He is also very good in transitioning and is defensively responsible. Kemp possesses great poise with the puck and a hard shot but could stand to shoot the puck more.

Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin’s comments on Kemp: “I thought Nick had a real good freshman year. I was really pleasantly surprised with the start to the year that he had. He started off real well then kind of had the little dip then got it back. The best thing about Nick is his willingness to go into those tough areas. He is a very competitive kid and likes that part of the game. He likes that part of being involved, whether it’s physical or scoring.”

39. Travis Turnbull, F – Freshman, University of Michigan
6’0 193 lbs. DOB: 7/7/86

2005-06 season: The son of former St. Louis Blues player Perry Turnbull enjoyed a solid rookie year on a very young Wolverines team. The Chesterfield, MO native posted 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) playing in all 41 games this season. Turnbull finished the year tied for second on the team with three game-winning goals. One of his most memorable outings came on Oct. 14 versus Boston College, when he posted the game-winner and an assist to lead Michigan to a 3-2 victory. The game-winner was also the first goal of his collegiate career.

Talent Analysis: Turnbull is a tenacious, hard-working forward. He does a very good job of using his strength to maintain puck possession. One of Turnbull’s best assets is his superb playmaking ability. He is also a versatile forward that can play both wing and center and played both this season. He is a very good skater with nice strides and speed. While Turnbull has shown that he can be a scoring threat, he was also inconsistent in that area. If he can gain some offensive consistency, Turnbull will provide Michigan with yet another good offensive weapon.

Michigan head coach Red Berenson’s comments on Turnbull: “Travis had a typical freshman year where he showed some real good flashes and other times he had trouble living up to that. On a player’s best day most people can see the best things about him, but when you watch him game in and game out and he can continue to do those things, he’s going in the right direction. He’s a good competitor, an emotional kid, and we want Travis to be the best player that he can be.”

40. Michael Stuart, D – Freshman, Brown University
6’6 230 lbs. DOB: 2/16/87

2005-06 season: Despite playing in just 17 games, Stuart got more than a little notice this season on Brown’s blueline. He didn’t register any points but did post 24 penalty minutes. While the Rome, NY native is still very much a work in progress he has complimented a big Bears defensive corps not just with his sheer size but also with some solid positional play. One of Stuart’s most memorable games came on Jan. 10 versus non-conference foe UConn, where he was a plus-1.

Talent Analysis: Stuart is a strong, defensive defenseman who keeps things simple. He skates well for a player his size with long, powerful strides. He uses his enormous size and body strength to great advantage in going up against opposing forwards. Stuart is a smart player who doesn’t shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He possesses a nice, long reach and a very heavy shot. While Stuart has the tools to become an outstanding defenseman, he needs to refine his tool set, particularly in his play with the puck, to be successful at the collegiate as well as the next level.

Brown head coach Roger Grillo’s comments on Stuart: “He’s a young kid playing in a league with much older players. As the season went on, Mike got better and better. He’s a very coachable kid. The biggest thing about Mike is his willingness to get better. I think he really wants to be a better player and he works hard at it. He’s very diligent about his work off the ice. Mike is a really special kid that’s definitely got a ton of potential.”


Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.