Sharks NCAA prospects update

By DJ Powers

The San Jose Sharks have 14 collegiate prospects in their system. Twelve are currently playing in the NCAA, one is playing Canadian University hockey and the other has been redshirted due to NCAA transfer rules.

Jay Barriball, C
Freshman, University of Minnesota
Drafted: 2006 (seventh round, 203rd overall)

The biggest surprise to come out of the University of Minnesota this season was the excellent debut of Jay Barriball. Originally scheduled to come to Minnesota in the fall of 2007, Barriball opted to come in a year early when Phil Kessel signed with the Boston Bruins last summer. The Prior Lake, MN native started his collegiate career off with a bang, posting 11 points (six goals, five assists) in all seven of the Golden Gophers games back in October and was named the CSTV/HCA National Rookie of the Month. While Barriball’s numbers have dropped off since then, his level of play has not. He is currently third on the team in scoring with 30 points (14 goals 16 assists). Nationally, Barriball’s 30 points rank tied for 11th among all rookies while his 0.97 points per game ranks 12th.

"I was a little surprised that Jay did as well as he did so quickly having came directly out of high school without playing any junior hockey. We knew that he had the skill level and that ability to score and we didn’t want to bring him in unless we could put him in that role," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia told Hockey’s Future. "He doesn’t play like a freshman at all and he’s got a low panic point with the puck. I think that’s one of the reasons why you’re seeing Jay score like he has."

Barriball possesses superb puck skills. He is equally adept at finishing the play as he is setting it up. One attribute that separates Barriball from many rookies is his tremendous sense of anticipation. He knows where the play is going and more often than not makes the right decisions with the puck. As good as Barriball has been, he is far from being a finished product. Though his immense potential is just now being tapped into, his future success will be determined by his continued development and progress, especially in the areas of added size and strength, and mastering the finer points of the defensive side of the game.

Will Colbert, D
HK 2, St. Francis Xavier University (CIS)
Drafted: 2005 (sixth round, 183rd overall)

Defenseman Will Colbert holds the distinction of being the only current Sharks collegiate prospect to be playing in the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport). Prior to coming to St. Francis Xavier University (which is located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia), Colbert played for the OHL‘s Ottawa 67’s, where he captained the team to a Memorial Cup appearance. This season, Colbert has played in 24 games with the X-men, recording nine points (two goals, seven assists). Amongst the fellow defensemen that Colbert plays with this season is former Merrimack standout Jeff Caron.

In just his second year with St. Francis Xavier, the Arnprior, ONT native has become one of the cornerstones on the X-men blueline, logging between 25-30 minutes of ice time per game. As St. Francis Xavier head coach Brad Peddle tells Hockey’s Future, Colbert has more than earned it.

"The role that I had to put Will in last year as a first year guy was actually quite a large one. He stepped in here on a young defense and had to play on one of our top two units and did extremely well. Now, he has a year under his belt. Will has really cemented himself as one of the best defensemen in the league. He’s a guy that is in his second year here and is already an assistant captain. You just know what you’re going to get from him each night.

I see Will as a good two-way defenseman who is real solid in his own end. He’d probably be classified as more of a defensive defenseman with an offensive upside. That’s the best way to describe him. He is also one of our strongest guys. He is about 6’1/205 but in great shape and very strong physically, though could get a little stronger. I think that to get to the pro level, Will needs to make sure that he’s real physical all the time. He has gotten better at that. I’ve noticed that with the role that we’ve given him playing against the other team’s top lines, Will is playing meaner and nastier and when he does that, that’s when he’s at his best."

P.J. Fenton, LW
Junior, University of Massachusetts
Drafted: 2005 (fifth round, 162nd overall)

One team that is making the hotly contested Hockey East race more interesting this season is UMass. The Minutemen have quietly put together a very strong season thanks in part to the guidance and contributions of upperclassmen such as junior P.J. Fenton. The UMass assistant captain has posted 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) playing all 27 games this season. Though he doesn’t lead the team in points, he does lead the team in shots on goal (76). This weekend, Fenton will reach a milestone in his career when he plays in his 100th game.

"When we recruited P.J., we liked him for his total hockey package. I think that has been what he has ultimately grown into. You can trust P.J. to play with anybody. He’s one of those guys that you can pretty well depend on how he’s going to read the situations and the plays that he is going to make. He’ll take whatever the other team gives him and makes plays that are available to him," said UMass head coach Don Cahoon. "There’s no question that everyone would love to see P.J. fill the bucket with goals but it’s not all about that. It’s about making people around you better and complimenting yourself to team and the success of the team. P.J. does all of those things very well."

Since his freshman season two years ago, Fenton has steadily progressed in every area of his game and as a result he has blossomed into a more complete player. The most significant improvement that the Longmeadow, MA native has made this season has been in his skating. He looks much stronger on his skates and his strides are noticeably quicker, though it’s unlikely that he will ever become a speed demon. While it is difficult to predict how successful Fenton will be at the next level, the one thing that is certain is his great work ethic; versatility and tremendous hockey sense will all be assets that will help him get there.

Christian Jensen, D
Freshman, Rensselaer Polytechnic University
Drafted: 2004 (ninth round, 289th overall)

Experience is often the best teacher. For RPI freshman Christian Jensen and most of his fellow defensemen that has indeed been the case this season. The Engineers have had their share of struggles this season and nowhere has that been more evident than amongst their very young defensive corps. Of the seven (or eight if you count freshman Garret Vassel, who is a forward that can play defense) defensemen on the team’s opening day roster, only two are upperclassmen. Jensen has played in 20 games thus far, registering three points (all assists). He notched his first collegiate point back on Nov. 4 versus Quinnipiac.

"Christian did not start playing hockey until he was 14 years old. Even though he’s been drafted, from a hockey playing experience standpoint, he’s still extremely young. He’s going through some of the developmental steps that you would expect him to go through and having some ups and downs with that," RPI head coach Seth Appert told Hockey’s Future. "I think the biggest thing about Christian’s game right now is that he needs to add strength to his body as well as muscle mass. He’s working on add some explosiveness through our training program and that’ll help him become a better and more powerful skater as well as more powerful in puck battles."

The first thing that jumps out about the Watchung, NJ native is his 6’3/200 frame. While he does use his body well to his advantage, particularly in defending one-on-one against smaller players, it is also very apparent that he needs to add weight and strength to it. Once Jensen does that, it will significantly help him utilize his big body more effectively and efficiently. Another area that will need to improve if Jensen wants to succeed at the next level is his foot speed. While he can get around the rink fairly well, he needs to have a quicker step.

Carter Lee, RW
Redshirted Junior, Lake Superior State University
Drafted: 2003 (ninth round, 276th overall)

Carter Lee left Northeastern University after the 2005-06 season to transfer to Lake Superior State University. Under NCAA transfer rules, he is not eligible to resume collegiate play until the fall of 2007.

Tony Lucia, LW
Freshman, University of Minnesota
Drafted: 2005 (sixth round, 193rd overall)

Playing collegiate hockey can present some tough challenges, but when you play for one of the most respected coaches in the nation who also just happens to be your father the challenge can be even more daunting. That hasn’t stopped Tony Lucia from making his presence felt on the Minnesota Golden Gophers team. While he didn’t get off to a particularly strong start, Lucia has made significant strides in his overall game as the season has gone along. Lucia has established himself as a gritty, high-energy player who can fire up the team, a role that he has fitted into extremely well. In 30 games thus far, the Plymouth, MN native has posted 12 points (six goals, six assists).

"I think Tony has handled everything very well and probably had a lot more pressure on him than anybody else in some ways. He has really established himself as a good two-way player and he’s one of the those freshmen who doesn’t care what his role is, he just wants to play and wants his team to win," said Minnesota head coach and Tony’s father, Don Lucia. "He’s has played very physical and he’s probably been one of our most physical players so far this year. He’s chipped in with some goals too. Tony has done a good job of killing penalties and he’s very responsible defensively."

While the younger Lucia is still very much of a project, he has the makings of an outstanding checking line forward that can also chip in some goals. Lucia is a very smart, ultra-competitive player that is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. These attributes will serve him well as his hockey career progresses but it’ll be in his continued overall maturity and development, particularly in his strength and weight training that will determine how far he can and will be able to go.

David MacDonald, D
Junior, Harvard University
Drafted: 2004 (seventh round, 225th overall)

This season, Harvard University features one of the nation’s largest (size-wise) defensive corps in the nation. Amongst the biggest is 6’4/230 junior David MacDonald. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native has been paired with 5’11/205 freshman Alex Biega (BUF) for much of the season. Though it may seem like an odd pairing, the two players’ styles actually compliment each other quite well.  MacDonald has played in 18 games thus far for the Crimson, posting just one assist. His lone point of the season came fairly recently on Jan. 27 in Harvard’s 2-4 loss to Clarkson. MacDonald has yet to score his first collegiate goal.

One area where MacDonald has continually shown progress has been in taking care of his own end. Over the years, Harvard has fielded excellent defensive corps. This season MacDonald is a part of the latest incarnation in the great line of defensemen that have donned the crimson, black and white. Another notable improvement is MacDonald’s increased confidence with the puck. While he can make some nice outlet passes and possesses an outstanding heavy shot to go along with the confidence, it is the one area that he continues to struggle to establish himself in.

MacDonald is the prototypical defensive defensemen. He plays a rugged style and can deliver some bone-jarring hits with his size and strength. Like many of Harvard’s defensemen, both past and present, MacDonald is a very good skater. His skating isn’t the prettiest but his ability to move with those long, powerful strides of his allows him to get up and down the ice remarkably well.

Derek MacIntyre, G
Junior, Ferris State University
Drafted: 2004 (eighth round, 234th overall)

Though he hasn’t played in many games thus far, junior Derek MacIntyre has made the most of his starts with the Ferris State Bulldogs this season. In eight appearances, MacIntyre has posted a record of 4-1-0. Aside from getting lit up for nine goals two weeks ago at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines, MacIntyre has actually played remarkably well this year, allowing three goals or less in all of his wins. One of his best performances came on Feb. 3 in the Bulldogs 5-2 win over Ohio State, where he made 36 saves in the victory.

"I think the number one area that Derek has improved in is his approach to practices. Over the last month or so, his numbers in practice were progressing. His save percentage in practice increased, and as that went on, we felt that Derek had earned an opportunity to get into the games," Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels told Hockey’s Future. "One thing that we want Derek to do is make sure that he tracks the puck and moves up with the play so that when we do turn the puck over and there’s a quick counter, that he has followed the play up, got his angle and is all set to receive the line rush against."

The one attribute that the Stanwood, MI native has that makes him a standout is his enormous frame. At 6’2/214, he covers a lot of net. He has steadily improved his play on his angles and does a nice job of covering down low. This season, he is playing with more confidence and that has translated into more wins and better overall performances. For MacIntyre, how successful he’ll become at the next level will depend upon, among other things, how well he can adjust to the demands of a pro schedule. The limited playing time that he has seen throughout his collegiate career to this point will make the challenge that much more difficult, but not impossible.

John McCarthy, LW
Sophomore, Boston University
Drafted: 2006 (seventh round, 202nd overall)

John McCarthy may not be the most exciting player to watch, but he’s the guy that you want if you’re looking for a reliable penalty killer. On a Boston University team that is loaded with excellent offensive talent, McCarthy has done a brilliant job of filling the support role of a dependable, defensive-minded forward that excels in key defensive situations. The Andover, MA native has posted three points (one goal, two assists) in 28 appearances thus far. His lone goal on the season, a power play tally interestingly enough, came way back on Oct. 20 versus Northeastern.

"John is a very, very smart, unselfish, defense-oriented type of player. He’s filled that role perfectly for us so far in his career here. We believe that he will be able to generate more offense as well because he’s a good puck handler, with good size and is also a good skater," Boston University head coach Jack Parker told Hockey’s Future. "John can step in and be the guy that fills the role that everybody is looking for and needs to have to win. He’ll chip in with offense and be an offensive guy but John will be the guy that you can depend on in the other roles as well."

While McCarthy has the ability to score goals, his offensive contributions almost never come at the expense of his defensive responsibilities. He possesses a selfless, pass-first-shoot-second mentality that has been more of a blessing than a detriment to his team. His constant attention to defense along with his great skating ability and stick-to-itiveness have made McCarthy an invaluable part of the Terriers team as far as matching up against the opposition’s top players. If McCarthy can round out his game with increased offensive production, he could not only become a bigger threat to Boston University’s opposition but he could also become a more complete (and desirable) defensive forward as well.

Torrey Mitchell, C
Junior, University of Vermont
Drafted: 2004 (fourth round, 129th overall)

Many adjectives can describe University of Vermont junior Torrey Mitchell, but one-dimensional is not one of them. He is equally as comfortable scoring a goal as he is killing a penalty and can adapt quite easily to pretty much any situation on the ice. This season, Mitchell has been able to bring that balance of offensive and defensive skills to a higher level. Offensively, he leads the team in scoring with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assist). The Greenfield Park, Quebec native is averaging 1.00 points per game and his 0.62 assists per game currently rank amongst the leaders in Hockey East.

"Torrey has done a really great job of really leading this young team. He is there to guide them but at the same time he realizes that he needs them to learn and grow as individual players as well. He’s a mentor and he’s very grounded. That’s really the thing that I’m most proud of," said University of Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. "What Torrey is probably better at than most forwards in college hockey is his defensive skills. He is phenomenal at blocking shots and his backpressure effort is second to none. He uses his speed just as much defensively as he does offensively. He does so many little things very, very well."

While Mitchell’s offensive production is perhaps his most obvious "leading" characteristic, it is his maturity as a team leader and the influence that his presence has had one his team that are far more noteworthy. Mitchell is a player who leads by example, so it should come as no surprise that he serves as one of the Catamounts co-captains this season. He is a player that can change the dynamic of a game and can often be seen as a teacher of sorts to the team’s younger players. Mitchell possesses all of the necessary tools to become a successful pro player, but he’ll need to continue to develop them as well as be able to bring them up to the highest level.

Mike Morris, RW
Redshirted Senior, Northeastern University
Drafted: 2002 (first round, 27th overall)

After redshirting the entirety of the 2005-06 season due to lingering problems with post-concussion syndrome, Mike Morris made his long-awaited return to the Northeastern University lineup this year and his impact was immediate. Unfortunately, Morris’ health issues have continued to plague him this season as well. In December, he suffered a mild neck injury versus Merrimack before having to undergo emergency appendectomy surgery that would keep him out of the Huskies lineup for six weeks.

"It took Mike quite awhile to regain his timing and speed. I think his play on the ice has become more visible as he has gotten more confident in those areas. When he got healthy, he started scoring and he was clearly the best player out there," Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin told Hockey’s Future. "Mike has that identity that can make plays. He’s also smart in the defensive zone as well. It’s just gives the team confidence."

Morris’ return to the Northeastern lineup back in October also proved to be a bit of a readjustment for the Braintree, MA native, especially where the flow in his game and his skating were concerned. When Morris has been in the lineup, he has been very good. Despite playing in only 20 games thus far, Morris has amassed 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists), and is second on the team in scoring. While Morris has the tools and potential to become a top-flight player at the next level, his future will largely be dependent upon his ability to stay healthy. 

Last month, Morris was named as a finalist for the Pontiac Frozen Four Skills Challenge in April. More recently, he was also named a finalist for the Walter Brown Award, which recognizes the top American-born D-I college hockey player playing in New England.

Brian O’Hanley, D/F
Junior, Boston College
Drafted: 2003 (ninth round, 267th overall)

For the Boston College Eagles, the 2006-07 season thus far has been a challenge and a test of patience to say the least. The decline in overall team scoring and the team’s defensive woes have resulted in an inconsistent season. Junior defenseman Brian O’Hanley knows it all too well. While his defensive side has actually been pretty solid, it has been his problems on the offensive side that he has had to contend with all year long. The Quincy, MA native has played in 21 games and has just a goal and an assist to show for it. Both of his points came in the month of January against Merrimack and UMass-Lowell respectively.

Boston College features one of the youngest defensive corps in the nation this season. O’Hanley and fellow junior Mike Brennan are the only upperclassmen on the Eagles blueline that have seen regular duty. O’Hanley has done a remarkably good job of helping to provide stability within the Boston College defensive corps, basically being inserted into the lineup wherever he is needed. As a result, O’Hanley has been paired with a variety of defensive partners this year and played one game at forward.

While the defensive and leadership sides of O’Hanley’s game have progressed quite nicely, it is the offensive side that remains the bigger concern. The offensive-minded defenseman has struggled to score goals this season. One reason could be attributed to his lack of shooting the puck. In 23 games this season, O’Hanley is averaging roughly one shot per game. If he expects to have a successful pro career, O’Hanley will need to bring up his offensive game – an area he was noted for when he was being recruited Boston College, and getting more involved in the physical side of the game would certainly help his cause as well.

Alex Stalock, G
Freshman, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Drafted: 2005 (fourth round, 112th overall)

For Minnesota-Duluth, it has been a challenging season thus far, one that could potentially be worse if it weren’t for the outstanding play of freshman Alex Stalock. He has amassed a record of 5-14-3 that includes one shutout. Stalock’s lone shutout came back on Nov. 10 in the Bulldogs 0-0 tie with Michigan Tech, where he stopped all 27 shots. Despite having just five wins on the season thus far, Stalock has actually played remarkably well.

"I thought that Alex started the year off pretty well. He is certainly better than his numbers and record would indicate. Certainly we have high expectations for him but we’ve also put him in a tough situation. He’s a freshman and when we weren’t scoring, I think that he took a lot of that upon himself," said Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin. "There’s no question that Alex has ability as a puck handler. I think that it’s certainly a huge asset when it’s used properly. It was certainly an adjustment for our team to have a guy like Alex that can make that outlet pass or catch other teams on a line change."

One of Stalock’s more interesting stats is the fact that he leads the nation in scoring among goaltenders with four points (all assists) and it’ll only be a matter of time before he scores his first career goal. One area where the South St. Paul, MN native has really established himself is in superb puck handling ability. He is arguably one of, if not the best puck-handler in all of college hockey. He can often be found making nice passes up to his teammates or playing the puck away from opposing players. Stalock is also unusual in the way he plays some parts of his game. For example, at times he can be found making low shot, rebound-type stops with his glove along the ice rather than with the traditional pad save. With continued maturity and development in all facets of his game, Stalock has the potential to become not only an elite goaltender at the collegiate level but beyond as well.

Steve Zalewski, C
Junior, Clarkson University
Drafted: 2004 (fifth round, 153rd overall)

It has been a pretty good year so far for the Clarkson Golden Knights. One reason behind the team’s success has been in their ability to generate offensive production throughout their lineup. One player that has been a significant cog in the Golden Knights offensive machine is junior Steve Zalewski. He currently ranks tied first on the team in scoring with 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) and is averaging a point per game. Two areas where Zalewski has really made his mark this season has been in scoring timely goals and on draws. Of his team co-leading 14 goals, six have come on the power play and three are game-winners. Zalewski has also proven to very effective on faceoffs as well, winning nearly 55 percent of all his draws.

"Steve has moved into more of a leadership for our team. He’s the guy that is reliable, whether it’s in an offensive or defensive role or winning draws. His confidence is the biggest thing that has changed from last year to this year. Steve’s much more confident with the puck, and his skating and strength have improved. Every time he has been on the ice, he’s been pretty dominant at both ends," said Clarkson head coach George Roll. "Steve is starting to believe how good of a player that he can be and that’s what we see in him. He continues to grow as a player because he is gaining that confidence."

Part of what has made the New Hartford, NY native such a valuable asset to his team this season have been the offensive consistency that he has brought to the team and how the various aspects of his game have all come together. Evidence of the latter can be found in Zalewski’s increased attention to the defensive side of his game and his willingness to be more of a physical presence. If Zalewski can continue to bring together all parts of his game and is able to bring it all up to the next level, he could have a very successful pro career down the road.

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