2013 NHL Draft Preview
by Mike McMahon and Mark Bilotta/
Unlike years past, there isn’t a consensus top collegian in this summer’s NHL Enrty Draft, scheduled for Sunday in New Jersey.
If you believe the Central Scouting rankings, NCAA players are likely to start flying off the board in the second and third rounds, with only few possibilities for the first round. Boston College recruit Ian McCoshen, a defenseman, is the top-ranked collegiate skater at No. 24.
C JT Compher (Michigan, 34th) - The most skilled forward to come out of the U.S. National Development program this season, and in fact, he might be the best all-around player coming out of the prestigious team. At 5-foot-11, he’s not huge, but makes up for it with above average speed and is solid everywhere on the ice; think a poor man’s Patrice Bergeron. Despite is average size, he has above-average strength and should continue to bulk up after getting into a top-notch strength and conditioning program at Michigan.
RW Michael McCarron (Western Michigan, 35th) - Size: one word really says it all. McCarron will be taking his 6-foot-5 228 pound frame to Kalamazoo to play for head coach Andy Murray. Some have suggested that his NHL-ready size will make him a first round pick but he will surely be off the board before the second round has concluded. McCarron uses his big frame to keep opposing players away from the puck but the best aspect of his game is net-front presence. McCarron sets up shop in front of the net and makes a formidable screen for the goalie. He also features above average skating ability for a big forward and good hands to handle the puck well in space, as evidenced by his 37 point effort in 59 games for the US NTDP.
LW Adam Tambellini (North Dakota, 42nd) - He is the highest rated Junior A player in Canada for good reason - Tambellini has had success at every level he has played. The son of former Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini came to the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL via trade midway through the season and helped the Eagles get to within two wins of an RBC Cup title. At 6-foot-2 158 pounds, he has much work to do at North Dakota to get physically prepared for the pro game, but his skill set should translate well in the college ranks. He possesses a hard, accurate shot and quick feet but most importantly he gives his best effort every time he hits the ice. Expect him to be selected between the second and third rounds of the Draft.
C Connor Hurley (Notre Dame, 45th) - When the puck is on his stick, Hurley is as skilled as any player in the draft. He finished last season with Muskegon (USHL) after a full season with Edina High School in Minnesota. With time and space he’s deadly, showing off his smarts with great decision making and ability to set up his teammates. His speed and acceleration is up there with the best in the draft, including some high-end Europeans. Measuring six feet and 165 pounds, he has decent size but some scouts have criticized his tendency to keep himself to the outside, and shy away from the high-traffic areas. His birthday is late, and he could end up being the youngest player drafted.
C Ryan Fitzgerald (Boston College, 56th) - His year started with a bang, winning the MVP award of the inaugural USA Top Prospects Game in Buffalo. After three standout seasons at Malden Catholic, winning two Massachusetts state titles, Fitzgerald played for the Valley Jr. Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League this past season while finishing his senior year at MC. Much like his father, longtime NHL’er Tom Fitzgerald, he’s a solid all-around forward who competes hard and can play in every situation. The biggest knock on Fitzgerald is that he doesn’t possess ideal size – he’s 5-foot-10, 160 pounds – but his determination is hard to match.
RW Hudson Fasching (Minnesota, 70th) - At 6-foot-2, 189 pounds, Fasching has the look of a power forward, but more importantly he has the on-ice presence and hands to match. Opposing teams have their hands full keeping him off the score sheet because he is consistently in the right place at the right time (27 points in 56 games in 2012-13). NHL scouts really appreciate Fasching's maturity and work ethic as well, which should make him an attractive pick in the second or third round. Despite dropping 28 spots in the CSS final rankings, Fasching should be an impact player at Minnesota and the upside with the big frame should interest NHL teams to call his name in the early rounds.
D Ian McCoshen (Boston College, 24th) - McCoshen has drawn comparisons to a former Boston College defenseman who was taken in the first round in 2009, Nick Petrecki. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he has better size than Petrecki, but is slightly less physical; to make up for that though, he’s much better in the offensive zone and projects as a quality two-way defender. He’s as composed a player as you’ll find, which is a tremendous asset for someone on the back end, and helped lead a very good Waterloo team last season, often shutting down opponents’ top lines night after night.
D Brett Pesce (New Hampshire, 40th) - Pesce is a strong contender to be an early to mid-round draft pick following a solid first season at UNH. The 6-foot-3 170 pound defenseman has earned buzz from scouts over the past season for his play as a freshman in Hockey East. Pesce's responsible game in his own end earned a great deal of playing time from coach Dick Umile, who does not typically offer big minutes to first year Wildcats. Pesce became a penalty killing specialist as the UNH season wound to a close, but his 5-on-5 play really pushed him up on a number of draft boards. As he matures, Pesce has a higher offensive ceiling than his point totals in 2012-13 would indicate (6 points in 38 games).
D Thomas Vannelli (Minnesota, 44th) - Where do kids who grow up on the shore of Lake Minnetonka go play college hockey? The University of Minnesota, of course. Such is the story of Thomas Vannelli, a tall but lanky defenseman who has impressed at numerous select camps since he was 15 years old. At 6-foot-2 he has good height, but could pack some muscle onto his 165-pound frame. That said, he has good range and ability to pokecheck to breakup plays, according to scouts.
D Steve Santini (Boston College, 47th) - Known as a gritty and physical defenseman with the US NTDP, Santini notched 15 points in 66 games. The 6-foot-2 207 pound hulking backliner has said in past interviews that he models his game after Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs and it shows as he refuses to give up any patch of ice in his own end. His shot according to scouts is heavy but lacks accuracy; so he can certainly benefit from time spent at Chestnut Hill. His professional prospects look promising due to his physicality and consistent positioning in the defensive zone; expect him to be picked in the middle rounds.
D Michael Downing (Michigan, 49th) - The 6-foot-3, 190-pound defender has impressed scouts with a strong two-way game mixed in with plenty of grit from his time playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. In 2012-13, Downing racked up 23 points in 52 games with 107 penalty minutes in tow. Expectations were high in the early part of the season and the trade of his brother and defense partner Jake clearly weighed on Downing, but showing resiliency he rebounded in the second half of the year as he helped lead the Fighting Saints to a Clark Cup title. Notable aspects of his game: Downing has shown a great first pass ability, a hard, accurate power play shot from the point and a knack for mixing in plenty of physical play in his own zone. Expect him to come off the board before the end of round three.
D Keaton Thompson (North Dakota, 53rd) - The North Dakota native, who will play for the hometown Fighting Sioux, is considered by some scouts to be the most underrated player in the entire draft. He’s more than capable at both ends of the ice and has what most coaches salivate for: a great first pass in transition. He doesn’t force the play and has the ability to carry it into the neutral zone if needed to buy some time. At 6-foot-1, he has good size and also has plenty of experience, with 74 total USHL games as well as 121 games played for the NTDP.
G Calvin Petersen (Notre Dame, 4th) - A bit of a late bloomer, Petersen committed to Notre Dame at the start of this past season after helping lead Waterloo as one of the better teams in the USHL. He plays a butterfly style but is more aggressive than a traditional butterfly goalie. He’s very athletic and has good size at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, taking up much of the net. He still has one more year left in the USHL before heading to Notre Dame in 2014.
G Eamon McAdam (Penn State, 6th) - The 6-foot-2 185 pound McAdam split time tending goal for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL with Petersen, who is committed to Notre Dame. In his 31 games this season, McAdam's numbers aren't eye-popping (3.45, .896 save percentage) but he is a USHL veteran as this is his third year in the league. Scouts feel McAdam handles the puck well around his net and his mental makeup and maturity is well suited to the pro game. He tends to play his best in big games as proven during his stint with Team USA at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge where he posted a 2.18 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage after four games.
G Evan Cowley (Denver, 12th) - As the first recruit to commit to new head coach Jim Montgomery in Denver, Cowley is a great get for Pioneers. The 17-year old, 6-foot-4 182-pound goaltender flew under the radar in the NAHL much the same way Connor Hellebuyck and Anthony Stolarz did. But this season, scouts have noticed both his size and efficient motions in the crease, being able to take away a large part of the net and cover the blue paint well from post to post. He is still a bit raw as a prospect, but with the benefit of a full-time goalie coach, he could really succeed against higher competition. Expect him to come off the boards in the middle rounds.