B’s U.S. Junior/Prep/HS Draft Preview

Here’s a quick hitter with some names of top USA-based junior, prep and HS players for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Out of Range

Barring the Bruins trading back into the 1st round or getting up into the 2nd from near the end of the round, these players won’t be available to the team when they make their first selection at 58th overall:

Jake Sanderson, LD 6-2/186 U.S. NTDP (USHL)- Like his dad Geoff, the 2-way defender is a glorious skater. While not all are sold on his capacity to be a 1/2 at the NHL level, we have no doubts after watching him since he took the Team USA Selection Camp by storm in March 2018, after having been a top player in Canada’s prep league. He’s explosive, dynamic and a sure puck handler who can impact the game in all three zones. Whoever drafts him will be getting a star player for years to come once he turns pro from North Dakota in a year or two. It won’t be long…

Brendan Brisson, C 5-11/180 Chicago Steel (USHL)- The league’s top rookie tore it up on a stacked Steel team that was on pace for record wins when COVID shut everything down. Now at the University of Michigan, he’s an excellent skater with superb skills, offensive instincts and a willingness to go to the greasy areas for points.

Dylan Holloway, C 6-0/195 University of Wisconsin (NCAA)- Late ’01 was a top Tier 2 Canadian player over the past several seasons and did not disappoint as a true freshman in Madison. Although the Badgers underacheived as a team, Holloway showed off his all-around NHL game- skating, scoring and solid 2-way instincts.

Sam Colangelo, RW 6-1/205 Chicago Steel (USHL)- Power winger and former Lawrence Academy standout formed a nasty 1-2 punch with Brisson on the Steel and is all over the map largely because he doesn’t always turn the wheel. However, there is no doubt that the Northeastern freshman and late ’01 has a pro-caliber skill set and when he matures, could become an impact forward at the highest level.

Thomas Bordeleau, C 5-9/180 U.S. NTDP U18 (USHL)- Small but dynamic offensive creator is the son of former NHLer and Nashville player development guru Sebastien Bordealeau. Fast, talented and plays with pace- superb passer/playmaker who may lack pro size, but plays a bigger game and finds ways to create magic from the mundane.

2nd-round possibilities

Ty Smilanic, LW 6-1/175 U.S. NTDP U18 (USHL)- First-round talent struggled with injuries in his draft season and doesn’t always bring his best on every shift. However, there is no denying the fact that the Colorado native has been among the best players in his peer group for years, and he showed off his impressive size, skating and puck game for two years with Team USA. He’ll need to mature, but there’s some solid boom potential here.

Blake Biondi, C 6-1/199 Hermantown (Minnesota HS)- The 2020 Minnesota Mr. Hockey is a scoring machine at that level and if you just watch him playing against other single-A programs in the state, he’s a dominant force, leading his team to the state championship game before falling in OT to the Mahtomedi Zephyrs. However, he began the year with Sioux City in the USHL and had trouble establishing himself at that level. His skating will need to improve at the next level (he’s at Minnesota-Duluth), but he’s got elite hands and the vision/IQ to make plays. He’d be a bit of a reach at 58 in our estimation, but he’s also got high-end potential, and the B’s have a track record of players at UMD- Biondi would make sense.

Eamon Powell, RD 5-11/165 U.S. NTDP U18 (USHL)- After watching success of other smallish, speedy and skilled defenders in their organization, the Boston College freshman from Syracuse would make a ton of sense here. He was the yin to Jake Sanderson’s yang. He’s fast, smart and efficient- would be a very good value pick at the end of the 2nd round, because he’s more than the sum of his parts. Outstanding in retrievals, Powell is a human breakout machine and will be a solid complementary NHL piece for some time.

Mitchell Miller, LD 5-10/190 Tri-City Storm (USHL)- While not as defensively sound as Powell, Miller is more of an offense-minded defender who loves to rush the puck and can get up the ice quickly. A superb PP QB at the USHL level, his best hockey is in front of him. He’ll need to continue working on his strength and off-ice conditioning, but this guy can wheel and impact the game offensively- just needs coaching and time to develop/mature. There’s more risk/reward with this player, and he might be able to be had at the end of the third round.

Dylan Peterson, C 6-4/192 U.S. NTDP (USHL)- We think this player would make a perfect Bruin and might be the victim of unmet expectations at the Program. He can really move for such a big man and has the vision and skill to make a lot of plays in the o-zone- the production just didn’t come with the potential. He can be a bit on the perimeter at times, but he’s like a poor man’s Joe Thornton in terms of the way he plays and if he can find some confidence and scoring at BU, he could be a solid value at the end of the 2nd round.

Best of the rest:

Wyatt Schingoethe, C 5-11/200 Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)- Prototypical 200-foot center can do it all. May not possess ideal NHL size, but not afraid to get his nose dirty. Very good in the faceoff circle and plays a smart, responsible 2-way game with underrated offense. On the downside, he’s inconsistent and did not have the kind of anticipated impact in the USHL after being a dominant AAA player coming up through the storied Chicago Mission program. He’ll have a chance to get his development on track at Notre Dame.

Landon Slaggert, C 6-0/190 U.S. NTDP U18 (USHL)- Good, hard-working center who doesn’t have Schingoethe’s skill, but brings a similar 200-foot game and works his bag off. Good skater- always turns the wheel. Not a big NHL ceiling, but the kind of guy you win with.

Carson Bantle, LW 6-4/205 Madison Capitols (USHL)- We think he’s under the radar given his size and scoring. He’s a clunky-looking skater, but can really get there and has a rocket of a shot. Classic power forward. Captained the worst team in the league, but but up consistent production playing in all situations. Would be a good value pick anywhere after the 2nd round- off to Michigan Tech.

Brock Faber, RD 6-0/195 U.S. NTDP (USHL)- Not flashy or dynamic, but solid in all areas. Good puck-mover who has solid size and can really wheel and move pucks crisply and efficiently. The best may be yet to come- we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Minnesota native drafted higher than many are projecting him to go.

Colby Ambrosio, RW 5-9/170 Tri-City Storm (USHL)- Explosive, dynamic, deadly scorer is a top-four round talent. When it comes to the power play, he was nearly automatic last season- an NHL-caliber release with pinpoint accuracy and the hockey sense to find quiet ice. Top-level catch-and-shoot skills. Issues are size/strength and too much showboating and diving/antics that detracted from an otherwise superb offensive performance. Boston College has a talented player and if he plays there the way he did in Kearney, there will be some electric surges at the Heights this season.

Ian Moore, RD 6-3/180 St. Mark’s School (MA Prep)- Skating with the Chicago Steel this season, the prep standout from Concord, Mass. can pretty much do anything he wants. Size, skating, intelligence- ability to move pucks, quarterback a PP and be a top penalty killer. Committed to Harvard. Wouldn’t be a bad second-rounder, albeit a long-term project, but his value increases from 3rd round and on.

Brett Berard, RW 5-9/160 U.S. NTDP U18 (USHL)- Small but fast winger is a disruptive presence all over the ice. Relentless forechecker and smart- noticeable on every shift. Providence College frosh has the makings of a versatile, bottom-line pro winger with pace and jam, though it will take time for him to get there.

Trevor Kuntar, C-LW 6-0/200 Youngstown (USHL)- Passed over in 2019 after two largely disappointing seasons with the Phantoms, Kuntar exploded in his third year, piling up points and playing with a lot of fire and jam. Heavy game and Bruins-like attributes. May not have high-end NHL scoring potential but brings a solid floor with him.

Sleepers

Ben Meehan, LD 6-0/195 Cedar Rapids (USHL)- Massachusetts native and former Dexter star blew up in the USHL over the first half, racking up goals and points, plus being a top PP weapon, until an injury ended his season halfway through. His defensive game is a bit of a mystery, but the guy can really skate and has a big-time shot.

Zakary Karpa, C 6-2/185 U.S. NTDP (USHL)- Big, rangy center was in a bit role with Team USA, but was turning the corner at the end of the season when COVID hit. Instead of going into Princeton, he’ll spend the 20-21 season with the Omaha Lancers. He’s tall, lanky, can really skate and pass/shoot. Already a strong defensive center, there’s some offensive upside here for any team that takes a late-round flyer on him. Son of former NHL D Dave Karpa.

Nick Capone, C 6-2/210 Tri-City Storm (USHL)- Big right-shot center is at UConn this season but has some sneaky offensive skill to go with a large, strong frame and some physicality/nastiness. Tough to play against, but also received several league suspensions for crossing the line- will need to rein it in. Will need to improve his skating- mainly his initial steps and small-area game, but he’s not that far off and brings reasonable speed when he’s going north-south and driving the net.

Patrick Guzzo, C 6-1/205 Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)- Whenever we bring up his name, all we hear are crickets. Why? He’s big, powerful and has an undervalued offensive tool kit. Ox-strong, he moves well for a big man and goes hard to the net. Was overshadowed by flashier players in Waterloo last season, but has a solid pro-style game and pedigree. We’d take him as early as the 4th/5th round, but he might not get drafted at all…crazy.

Matt Gleason, RW 5-8/170 Cretin-Derham Hall (MN HS)- Another Minnesota HS star who will play for the Chicago Steel, he’s small but can absolutely fly and is a scoring machine. Plays a high-energy skill game and will be hard for NHL teams to pass up.

Jakub Dobes, G 6-4/201 Omaha Lancers (USHL)- Czech native who spent the last several years in North America has NHL size/athletic ability. Showed immense potential at times last season, split between the NAHL (Topeka Pilots) and USHL. When he sees the puck, he stops it and uses tremendous east-west lateral agility to make highlight reel saves. Promising, but raw- bubble pick.

Off the top of the head: Quinn Olson

Back with the B’s prospect series on this April Saturday- hope everyone is staying safe/healthy.

Quinn Olson, LW

5-11/175

Boston’s 2nd choice, 92nd overall (3rd round) in 2019 NHL Entry Draft

Current team: University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (NCHC)

Previous team: Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)

Strengths: Nifty-quick skater whose vision and top-end hockey IQ allow him to exploit time and space all over the ice. Excellent wheels and hands allow him to make plays offensively and be effective and disruptive on the forecheck. Terrific vision; sees the ice and can feather, rifle or sauce pucks to linemates for grade A scoring chances. Goes hard to the net and battles for loose pucks in the corners and along the walls- feisty. Plays with a lot of pace and energy- shows very good balance/edging with the ability to change direction instantly to shake away from defenders and maintain puck possession.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal height and strength- a work in progress who will need time to physically mature and grow his game experiences in a top NCAA program after making the jump to college from tier 2 hockey in Alberta. Has room to improve the mechanics of his shot/release going forward- more of a puck distributor/playmaker on the wing than a finisher.

Overall analysis: We thought the selection of Olson late in the 3rd round was a sneaky-good pick last June, and after watching him in one of college hockey’s best conferences, we’re even higher on him a year later. His numbers for a true freshman- 7-8-15 in 31 games- nearly .5 per game- are solid if not spectacular, but bode well for him going forward, as he will earn more ice and have an expanded role going forward. He’s a buzzsaw forward- comparable to Karson Kuhlman– in the style of hockey he plays. Because he is a product of the AJHL, Olson is far from a household name, but that league continues to become a better option for players on the NCAA path; his USHL rights were owned by Sioux City and there is absolutely no doubt that he could have spent his draft season playing in the USA’s top junior league, but Okotoks is a respected program and prepared him well for the next step.

Projection: High floor prospect…ceiling as yet TBD- he could emerge as more of an offensive threat in the NCHC. We see Olson as a solid middle-of-the-roster winger who has the ability to play up and down in the lineup and could develop into a lower-end, but serviceable 2nd-line NHL forward in time. We compared him to Kuhlman earlier, but Olson also has some Jake DeBrusk in his game, although he lacks the shot/goal-scoring skills is No. 74- he’s more of a passer who makes his linemates better. It will take some time to see Olson in a Bruins sweater- we expect him to play another two years at Duluth minimum, and then will likely need another 2 full years in the AHL (not ruling out some games in Boston on a recall basis), but the payoff for the wait should be worth it- he’s a nice fit for the Bruins and the style of hockey they play.

Quinn Olson (#11- white) opens the scoring in this AJHL highlight package from the playoffs against Brooks a year ago at about the 0:22 second mark; at 4:33 he feeds 2020 1st-round draft prospect Dylan Holloway on the PP for a goal.