NCAA Top 10 for the 2010 NHL draft

By DJ Powers

This year’s NCAA Draft class is shaping up to be one of the best in recent years. While few current collegians are ranked by the Central Scouting Service (CSS), NHL teams have, in recent drafts, selected a number of non-ranked players. The list below of the top 10 is comprised of seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender. The CCHA, Hockey East and the WCHA have three players represented while the ECAC has one.

1. Tyler Pitlick, C

Freshman, Minnesota State University Mankato
6’1.5”/194 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: 18th among NA skaters

HF feature story on Pitlick
Update: According to reports, Pitlick has left Minnesota State and will be playing for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers next season.

2. Riley Sheahan, C
Freshman, University of Notre Dame
6’1.5”/202 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: 22nd among NA skaters

HF feature story on Sheahan

3. Danny Biega, D

Freshman, Harvard University
6’0”/191 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: 46th among NA skaters

HF feature story on Biega

Update: Biega’s outstanding showing at the recent NHL Draft Combine in Toronto may have helped to boost his draft stock.

4. John Ramage, D

Freshman, University of Wisconsin
6’0.5”/184 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: 131st among NA skaters

One of the cornerstones to the Wisconsin Badgers successful run to the NCAA National Championship game was a strong, talent-laden defensive corps. While Ramage may not have put up the same kind of numbers that his defensive partner Brendan Smith (DET) did, he did make his presence felt. Ramage, the son of former NHLer Rob Ramage, was one of three Badgers who were a part of Team USA’s gold-medal winning squad at the 2010 World Junior Championship. In that tournament, he posted three points, including an assist on John Carlson’s overtime game-winner over Canada in the championship game.

Ramage appeared in 41 games for Wisconsin this season, posting 12 points (two goals, ten assists). His 51 penalty minutes led all Badgers freshmen, while his plus-14 ranked tied for sixth on the team.

Ramage is a defensive defenseman who plays with an edge. He thrives on the physical side of the game, and with some added size and strength, could become a more dominating player for opponents to contend with. Like the rest of Wisconsin’s defensive unit, Ramage possesses great puck-moving ability. He displays good poise, patience and makes very good outlet passes. Although he may never post many points, Ramage does have some offensive upside to his game. He has an excellent shot and can get pucks to the net. Ramage is a powerful skater with nice strides but will need to improve moving his feet more consistently, particularly in one-on-one situations. He was a key cog on the Badgers penalty-killing unit this season, displaying some terrific shot-blocking and smart defensive zone play.

5. Justin Florek, LW

Sophomore, Northern Michigan University
6’4”/194 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: N/A

The lone non-freshman in this year’s draft class enjoyed a terrific season with Northern Michigan this season. After finishing his rookie season with 17 points last year, Florek doubled his point production this year on 12 goals and 23 assists playing in all 41 games. He co-led the Wildcats with six power-play tallies and three game-winners.

Florek made tremendous strides in many aspects of his game this year, but what was perhaps the most impressive improvement was how he has grown into a more consistent, well-rounded player. Areas such as his improved foot speed, playmaking ability and strong play at both ends of the ice have contributed greatly to Northern Michigan’s successful run into the NCAA Tournament this season. Florek’s use of his large frame and strength has also noticeably improved, particularly in his play around the net. One area where the Marquette, MI native had firmly established himself as a sophomore was on special teams. Of his 12 goals, seven came on special teams (six on the power play and one short-handed).

Florek was eligible, but went undrafted, in 2009.

6. Joe Howe, G

Freshman, Colorado College
5’11”/190 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: N/A

Few teams relied as heavily on their goaltending this season as Colorado College did. And what makes it all the more impressive was the fact that the Tigers relied on a freshman. Although Colorado College missed getting into the NCAA Tournament, Howe’s stellar performance kept the team in contention for the WCHA crown for much of the season. He was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team and was the recipient of Colorado College’s Bob Johnson Award for Rookie of the Year.

Howe started in 36 of 39 games for the Tigers this season, posting a 17-15-3 record that included three shutouts and a .907 save percentage. His 2096:47 minutes played ranked eighth in the nation, while his 1611:39 minutes topped the WCHA in conference play.
Two of Howe’s most impressive attributes are his athleticism and ability to read and stay with plays. He possesses excellent lateral movement with quick reflexes. He is tough to beat down low, plays his angles quite well and does a very good job of controlling his rebounds. What Howe lacks in size, he more than makes up for with consistency, composure and stamina.

Howe went undrafted in 2009.

7. Zach Trotman, D

Freshman, Lake Superior State University
6’3”/195 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: N/A

Lake Superior State brought in a great, albeit small recruiting class that paid dividends for them this season. The best among their newcomers was defenseman Zach Trotman. The Novi, MI native logged upwards of 20-25 minutes per game with the Lakers this season. He, along with senior Steven Kaunisto, made up one of the best, and perhaps underrated, defensive pairings in the CCHA.

Trotman appeared in 36 games this season, posting eight points (two goals, six assists) and was utilized in all situations. His outstanding freshman campaign also earned him an honorable mention to the CCHA’s All-Rookie Team.

Trotman is a defensive defenseman with size and toughness. He is strong on his skates, possesses some good foot speed and transitions well. One component that Trotman has added to the Lakers defense this season is grit and he can be a difficult player to play against. While Trotman may not score many points, he does have offensive potential and isn’t afraid to jump up into plays. He moves the puck quite well and possesses a great shot. He advantageously uses his large, powerful frame too. He plays smart in his own end and makes excellent outlet passes. One area he will need to improve is taking away time and space from opposing players and doing so more consistently.

8. Sebastian Stalberg, C

Freshman, University of Vermont
6’1”/176 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: N/A

Stålberg is the younger brother of current Toronto Maple Leaf Viktor Stålberg. While the brothers have done tremendously well donning the Catamount colors, the two are somewhat different types of players. Sebastian doesn’t quite have the offensive flair that his older sibling does, but that hasn’t stopped him from posting excellent numbers at Vermont this season. Stålberg led the Catamounts in freshmen scoring this season with 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. His play was instrumental in helping to guide Vermont to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Stålberg’s stellar season also earned him a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team as well as being named the recipient of Vermont’s George Buzzell Award for Rookie of the Year.

Two of Stålberg’s greatest attributes are his grittiness and his superb defensive play. His attention to defensive responsibilities can be seen in his time on Vermont’s penalty-killing unit and his ability to successfully go up against many of the top opposing players. He is equally strong at both ends of the ice too. Stålberg thrives on the physical side and that could become more evident with added size and strength. He plays the game with lots of energy and is very good along the boards and in the corners. He possesses a good burst of speed and quickness in his skating. Another of Stålberg’s best assets is his hands. He has outstanding playmaking and passing ability. He moves well with the puck and has shown to be quite good on face-offs as well.

Stalberg was undrafted in 2009.

9. Pat Mullane, LW

Freshman, Boston College
5’11”/190 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: N/A
Few if any freshman forwards displayed as much consistency and a well-rounded game as Mullane did for Boston College. His contributions in all three zones helped propel the Eagles to another National Championship crown.

Mullane co-led Boston College in rookie scoring this season with 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) playing in all 42 games. In the NCAA Tournament’s Northeast Regional semi-final where he tallied the game-winning over Alaska. He also earned a Hockey East Rookie of the Week on Nov. 23.

Mullane is an energetic, lunch pail-type of forward who can play in any situation. While he is listed as a left wing, he can also play center equally as well. One attribute that made Mullane so difficult to play against this season was his superb and relentless play around the net. He possesses excellent vision and awareness, which can be seen in how he follows rebounds and loose pucks all over the ice. He isn’t afraid to go into high traffic areas and is as tenacious driving to the net as he is around it. Mullane also possesses speed, quickness, and is remarkably strong on his skates. Two other areas of note that Mullane displayed were his ability to step up in clutch situations and in face-offs, winning 56 percent of his draws.

Mullane was eligible but undrafted in 2009.

10. Chris McCarthy, LW

Freshman, University of Vermont
6’1”/177 lbs.
CSS Final Ranking: N/A
McCarthy was among the Catamounts talented incoming class this season. He originally committed to Boston College before deciding instead to attend Vermont. The Collegeville, PA native enjoyed an outstanding freshman campaign, finishing second on the team in rookie scoring with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 35 games. McCarthy’s most memorable game came back on Oct. 18 when he posted a goal and an assist to help pace Vermont to a 4-1 win over Boston College. The performance also earned him his lone Hockey East Rookie of the Week honor of the season.

McCarthy is a tall, lanky forward with great hands and vision. He follows plays well and is an excellent passer. His playmaking ability is one of his greatest attributes and McCarthy can also finish plays too. He possesses a very good shot and displays great poise and patience with the puck. While McCarthy’s skating is quite good, he needs to add some quickness to it. He skates with smooth strides, but it lacks a burst of speed. And adding size to his frame will also help to make him more difficult to move off the puck too.

Other Notables:
Rocco Carzo, LW – University of Massachusetts; Brendan Rempel, D – Harvard University; Rylan Schwartz, C – Colorado College; Steven Seigo, D – Michigan Tech University; Steven Whitney, C – Boston College