Top 11 Minnesota High School prospects for 2009

By DJ Powers

This year’s crop of players coming out of the Minnesota high school Class A/AA leagues (which excludes Shattuck-St. Mary’s) is quite good, although only a few are expected to go within the first three rounds of the draft.

2009 Mr. Hockey Award recipient Nick Leddy leads this year’s group of NHL draft-eligible players.

1. Nick Leddy, D
Eden Prairie High School
Ht./Wt.: 5’11/179
DOB: 3/20/91
College Commitment: University of Minnesota
CS ranking: 24th

Leddy helped guide the Eagles to their first ever state championship. The highly-skilled rearguard finished his senior year leading Eden Prairie in defensive scoring with 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists) in 31 games.

In addition to the being named Mr. Hockey, Leddy was also named the Star-Tribune’s Metro Player of the Year and as well as named to the state Class AA All-Tournament team. Most recently, he was one of two Minnesota high school players invited to the upcoming U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp for the 2010 IIHF U-20 World Junior Championship.

HF feature on Nick Leddy

2. Zach Budish, C/RW

Edina High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’2.5/229
DOB: 5/9/91
College Commitment: University of Minnesota
CS ranking: 22nd

Despite the fact that Budish missed the entire 2008-09 season due to a torn ACL he suffered in a playoff game with the Hornets football team back in October, he still regarded as one of the top Minnesota high school players in this year’s draft. A big reason is his outstanding performance at the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, where Budish led Team USA in goal scoring with three goals and added two assists in four games. Budish was recently invited to the upcoming U.S National Junior Evaluation Camp.

Talent Analysis: Of all the Minnesota High School league players eligible, Budish may be the most complete. At nearly 6’3, he certainly has size. Budish is a powerful skater who has remarkably good speed and acceleration for such a big man. He has great instincts, good vision, and makes very good decisions in all three zones. Budish utilizes his large frame and strength very well, including on the physical side and is quite difficult to move off the puck. He can deliver some solid checks without taking himself out of the play. He also has great hands and superb playmaking ability.

3. Danny Mattson, C
Academy of Holy Angels
Ht./Wt.: 5’10/174
DOB: 11/20/90
College Commitment: University of North Dakota (’10)
CS ranking: 53rd

The electrifying Mattson capped his high school career leading the Stars with 77 points (24 goals, 53 assists) in 27 games. He also leaves Holy Angels as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 252 points (89 goals, 163 assists) in 109 career games. Mattson was a finalist for the 2009 Mr. Hockey Award and he also earned first team selections to the AP All-State and the Star-Tribune All-Metro teams.

HF feature on Danny Mattson

3. Ben Hanowski, RW/LW
Little Falls High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’1.5/198
DOB: 10/18/90
College Commitment: St. Cloud State University
CS ranking: 35th

Hanowski was one of, if not the, biggest story coming out of the Minnesota high schools this season. His draft stock rose significantly after leading the state in scoring with an astounding 135 points (73 goals, 62 assists) in 31 games for the Flyers, averaging a whopping 4.35 points per game. In the process, Hanowski broke the state’s career scoring record, previously held by former University of Minnesota standout Johnny Pohl, by posting 405 points (196 goals, 209 assists) in 111 games. He also helped guide Little Falls to four consecutive Class A state tournament appearances.

Hanowski’s stellar season earned him numerous honors including the AP All-State Player of the Year, a selection to the state Class A All-Tournament team, and being named a finalist for the 2009 Mr. Hockey Award.

Talent Analysis: Hanowski is a power forward with a knack for scoring in bunches. In addition to his offensive prowess, Hanowski is also good in the defensive zone and not afraid to get physical. He has great hands and is very creative. Hanowski also possesses a great shot with a very quick release. In addition to scoring the goals, he can also set up plays and can be very dangerous below the dots. While Hanowski does get around the rink pretty well, many in the scouting community feel that his skating is his most glaring weakness.

5. Nick Oliver, C/LW

Roseau High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’2.5/184
DOB: 5/4/91
College Commitment: St. Cloud State University (’10)
CS ranking: 82nd

A collarbone injury that he suffered back in November, limited Oliver’s appearances in 2008-09. He spent time with Roseau and the Fargo Force (USHL) this season. He appeared in 12 games with the Force posting a goal and an assist. In 11 games with the Rams, Oliver posted 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and earned the team’s Oscar Almquist Award. He was also named an honorable mention to AP and Pioneer Press All-State teams as well.

Talent Analysis: Oliver is a banging and crashing type of forward with size and grit. He is versatile in that he can play both at center and on wing. Oliver brings a physical presence to his game, often delivering bone-jarring hits to opposing players. As he fills out his nearly 6’3 frame, he’ll become an even more intimidating force to be reckoned with. He is extremely competitive, works hard, and is never one to give up on the puck so easily. He also does an outstanding job of supporting plays as well. Oliver isn’t the prettiest skater, but he does get around the rink quite well. One of Oliver’s best attributes is his shot. It’s accurate with a very quick release. He is very good around and has shown a knack for scoring the so-called “garbage” goals.

6. Tyler Lapic, C/LW
New Prague High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’1/188
DOB: 1/10/91
College Commitment: University of Wisconsin (’10)
CS ranking: 114th

Lapic was one of half of New Prague’s “dynamic duo” this year. He served as the team’s co-captain and co-led the Trojans with 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists) in 27 games. His 45 assists also led the team. He was named a finalist of the 2009 Mr. Hockey Award and was an honorable mention to the AP and Pioneer Press All-State teams.

Talent Analysis: Lapic is a skilled and instinctive offensive player. He has tremendous awareness and thinks the game remarkably well for such a young player. He has good size, but it is also quite evident that he is still growing into his body. Nevertheless, Lapic thrives in the physical game. He does a great job of staying with plays and is strong on the puck. Where Lapic is particularly dangerous is around the net. If he’s not putting the puck in the net, then he can often be found getting it to one of his teammates. He has superb playmaking ability and can utilize open spaces quite well. Lapic is an excellent skater with very good speed who moves really well with the puck.

7. Anders Lee, C
Edina High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’2/209
DOB: 7/3/90
College Commitment: University of Notre Dame (’10)
CS ranking: 118th

A two-sport standout in hockey and football, Lee led the Hornets as well as all state Class AA players in scoring with 84 points (25 goals, 59 assists) in 31 games.  Among the many accolades that he earned this season include being named a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award, as well as first team selections to the AP All-State, Star-Tribune All-Metro and the Pioneer Press All-State teams.

Talent Analysis: Lee has good size and is quite agile. He is an excellent skater with good speed. He is an intelligent player with great vision. One attribute that stands out about Lee is ability to create and utilize open spaces and lanes. He is a player who is very good at moving the puck and is very difficult to move off of it as well. Lee possesses a blistering shot with an equally quick release. He is also very good along the boards and in the corners. While Lee is not a particularly physical player, he will play the body when necessary. One perhaps least talked about attribute of Lee’s is his ability to adapt to any type of situation. He can be equally comfortable playing in offensive and defensive situations, including special teams.

8. Max Tardy, C
Duluth East High School
Ht./Wt.: 5’11.5/168
DOB: 10/27/90
College Commitment: University of Minnesota-Duluth (’10)
CS ranking: 144th

Max Tardy is one of the best players coming out of the Minnesota high schools ranks that few are talking about. The younger brother of former Colorado College defenseman Weston Tardy led the Greyhounds in scoring with 61 points (35 goals, 26 assists) in 30 games. He was named the Duluth News-Tribune’s All-Twin Ports Player of the Year. In addition, Tardy also earned second team selections to the AP and Pioneer Press All-State teams as well.

Talent Analysis: What Tardy lacks in size, he more than makes up for with his tenacity, ultra-competitiveness and offensive abilities. He is a shifty player who brings a ton of energy to his game. Tardy is relentless in his forechecking and isn’t one to shy away from the physical side of the game. He possesses a bit of a junkyard dog mentality when it comes to battling for puck possession and works hard no matter where he is on the ice. Tardy’s skating is quite good. He can get up to speed quickly and moves very well with the puck at high speeds. Tardy also possesses great hands, vision and superb puck distribution ability. He is a smart, creative too.

9. Dan Delisle, C/LW
Totino Grace High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’4/222
DOB: 9/24/90
College Commitment: University of Minnesota-Duluth
CS ranking: 138th

The towering Delisle capped an impressive senior campaign leading the Eagles with 66 points (33 goals, 33 assists) in 28 games. While he hasn’t garnered as much attention as some of the other top players in the state, Delisle is certainly one to keep an eye on. He was named a finalist for the 2009 Mr. Hockey Award and also earned an honorable mention to the AP and Pioneer Press All-State teams.

Talent Analysis: At 6’4/222 lbs, Delisle is a man-child among high school players. He is a powerful skater with long, fluid strides and surprisingly good acceleration. Aside from his size, where Delisle really stands out is in his offensive creativity. He sees the ice very well and can finish as well as set up plays. He has good hockey sense and is very smart with the puck. Delisle uses his enormous size, reach and strength to great advantage both offensively and defensively. He has very good defensive zone awareness and along with his aggressive checking style have helped to make him a valuable cog on the Eagles penalty-killing unit.

T-10. Marshall Everson, LW

Edina High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’1.5/190
DOB: 9/5/90
College Commitment: Harvard University
CS ranking: 181st

The Harvard-bound power forward completed a stellar senior season leading the Hornets in goal scoring with 49. He finished second on the team with 84 points in 31 appearances. Everson earned numerous honors that include first team selections to the Star-Tribune All-Metro and Pioneer Press All-State teams, as well as being named to the state Class AA All-Tournament team.

Talent Analysis: Everson is a very strong two-way winger who plays almost equally as well defensively as he does offensively. He uses his enhanced size and strength to great advantage, especially when it comes to battling for and protecting the puck. He is a tough competitor who plays with a bit of an edge and never backs down when challenged. He possesses a blistering shot and can get pucks to the net. Two of Everson’s greatest attributes are his hands and his vision. He can make plays at high speeds and distributes the puck really well. He also possesses great stick work, which can be seen in the way he takes away open lanes and spaces.

T-10. Nate Schmidt, D
St. Cloud Cathedral High School
Ht./Wt.: 6’0/197
DOB: 7/16/91
College Commitment: University of Minnesota (’10)
CS ranking: 163rd

Schmidt is the lone non-senior among this year’s top ten. He just completed an outstanding junior campaign where he led the Crusaders in defensive scoring with 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists) in 31 games. His 53 points were also second in the state among defensemen. Schmidt also helped guide St. Cloud Cathedral to the Class A state tournament this season. He earned him numerous honors including being named to the state Class A All-Tournament team as well as second team selections to the AP and Pioneer Press All-State teams.

Talent Analysis: Schmidt is a dynamic two-way defenseman that is really fun to watch. He possesses great hands and distributes the puck quite well. Schmidt’s ability to move the puck quickly makes him particularly dangerous in breakout situations. He sees the ice remarkably well and does a very good job of utilizing open spaces. Schmidt is also an excellent skater with good foot speed. He has shown a willingness to play the body when necessary too. As much as Schmidt is involved offensively, he is also good at taking care of his own zone. His defensive game is probably where Schmidt has made the greatest improvements in this season.

Other Notables

Zach Palmquist, D  – South St. Paul High School
Berkley Scott, C – Anoka High School
Charlie Taft, RW – Edina High School
Tyler Zepeda, C – Hill-Murray High School