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Nike/Bauer NIT & Finishing Up on the Elite League

I was planning on writing a post finishing up talking about some players that played in the Elite League playoffs last weekend, and talking about this weekend's Nike/Bauer National Invitation tournament, but since they're related, I'll try and kill two birds with one stone and combine them into the same post.

First off, the Nike/Bauer National Invitation Tournament takes place this weekend at New Hope Ice Arena in Minnesota. The 8-team tournament will feature the following teams: Minnesota Red, Minnesota White, Shattuck St. Mary's, Team Wisconsin, Michigan Developmental Hockey League All-Stars, Culver Prep, Manitoba Prep, and the Dallas AAA Stars.

Minnesota Red and Minnesota White are all-star teams selected from this season's Elite League. Usually they try to divide the two teams into a "Twin Cities team" and an "Out-state team". Technically Red is the out-state team this year, but they've got quite a few Twin Cities kids as well. The MDHL team is picked from Michigan's version of the Elite League for high school players.

Many of those Minnesota kids selected to play this weekend, are also mentioned in my recap of a few players from last weekend's Elite League playoffs. I already covered the kids with the best shots at getting drafted this next summer in the NHL Draft. Here's a few more kids that should definitely be on the radar of a few colleges.

You can read it after the jump.

Adam Knochenmus-Roseau: I mentioned how much better Brock Nelson played with Knochenmus on the ice. Knochenmus was outstanding on Saturday. He’s always been an absolutely tenacious worker. But he’s gotten a little stronger and much quicker in the past year. I think he’s probably best the uncommitted prospect in the state.

Andrew Prochno-Minnetonka(St. Cloud commit)-Paired with Justin Holl all weekend. He’s pretty much the complete opposite of Holl. He doesn’t have the physical tools Holl is blessed with, but he anticipates the play really well and does all the little things well enough to be a solid defender. He also has a cannon of a shot.

Troy Hesketh-Minnetonka(Wisconsin commit)-Kind of a rarity in that he’s already been drafted by an NHL team(Edmonton, 3rd round). He played solid, physical defense all weekend, but I felt like he could have done more given his talent.

Justin Crandall and Zach Schroeder-St. Thomas-They never really stood out as younger players, but now that they’re a little older, they’re both looking like really solid players.

Dan Molenaar-Eden Prairie-Probably the best ’93-born left in the state. Played really solid.

Joe Faust-Bloomington Jefferson(Princeton commit)-Brilliant in the offensive zone. Just so-so defensively.

Cal Decowksi-Andover-He doesn’t get as much attention as some other players, but he’s a really solid, smart hockey player.

Ben Bahe-Not very big, but he’s a very talented offensive player.

AJ Reid-St. Thomas Academy-Not the biggest guy, but a solid offensive player. He scored a beauty of a goal on Friday evening.

Ryan Jaremko-Elk River-Not very big for a defenseman, but he plays the game really well.

Andy Welinski-Duluth East-He’s a pretty strong kid for being as young as he is, and he’s not afraid to play physically. He could develop into a really big-time prospect.

Max McCormick-Wisconsin-Captain of the team and their best forward. Made a lot of plays on both ends of the ice.

Tyler Heionen-Delano-A ’93 that I wasn’t familiar with prior to this year. He’s a pretty big guy that likes to stickhandle, sometimes a little too much.

Brandon Wahlin-White Bear Lake-I thought he was one of the better sophomores in the state last year, although he was also one of the oldest. He’s a quick, little player that is very good with the puck.

AJ Michaelson-Apple Valley-One of two ’94s playing in the league. It looks like he’s hit a growth spurt since last season. He wasn’t a standout here, but very good considering his age.

Nolan Kirley-Wisconsin-I was impressed with how he played.

Danny Ray-Grand Forks Central-Senior defenseman that looks like he has the talent to play for a Jr. A team somewhere next season.

Andrew Pitts-North Metro-He kind of gets forgotten about because he’s a little guy and he plays for a bad high school team, but he’s a pretty good offensive defenseman.

Walker Hyland-Woodbury-There were rumors that he could have played in the USHL this year. He’s a good skater and smart with the puck.

MaxBirkinbine-WhiteBearLake-A very quiet weekend. I’ve seen him play better.

Jordan Johnson-Hill-Murray-I think he’s been in high school since the mid-90’s. Anyway, he threw some really big hits in the neutral zone last weekend.