Name: Brett Stern
Weight: 180 lbs.
09-10 team: Centennial High School(Minnesota)
09-10 stats: 27 games, 10 goals, 17 assists, 27 points
Brett Stern is a player that has flown under most people's radars for the past two years. Part of it was that as a junior, he was overshadowed by teammate Tyler Pitlick. The other part is that he plays a very quiet, dependable style of hockey that doesn't necessarily draw a lot of attention.
As a junior in high school, Stern played in the fall Upper Midwest Elite League, and was one of the few 11th graders to be selected to the league's end of the year all-star tournament. In his senior season, Stern again was named to the Elite League all-star tournament, and helped his team to a dominating first place finish. During the high school season, Stern played a much bigger role for Centennial after the team lost two-thirds of their top line, and top defenseman to graduation from the previous year. Stern played nearly every other shift in big games, and often matched up against the opposition's top lines, including Blaine's Nick Bjugstad.(Bjugstad scored three assists, but was held without a goal in the two meetings between the rival schools)
As mentioned, Stern's style of play is very much that of a defensive defenseman. He showed the occasional ability to pick his spots and jump into the slot for a scoring opportunity at the high school level, but that's not likely something he'll consistently at the next level. He's best staying at home and playing responsible defense. He can play with a nasty physical edge at times, though needs to do that more consistently.
Stern will likely play next season at the USHL level. He has made a verbal commitment to play for Minnesota State Mankato in the WCHA and will likely join the Mavericks to start the 2011-2012 season.
Links of Interest
Centennial Star Extends Sweet Summer-Minnesota Hockey Hub-November 2009
November 2, 2009: "Chris Casto and Brett Stern-I haven't heard anybody talk about either of these guys in regards to the draft, but they should definitely be in consideration. These two were paired up and barely left the ice for Team Northeast. Neither are superstars, but they're both big, solid, reliable defensemen that skate pretty well and aren't afraid to play physically."
November 12, 2009: Stern Picks Minnesota State
January 11, 2010: "136. Brett Stern-Centennial(Minnesota State)-One of the more underrated Minnesota HS players this year, but a nice prospect. He's about where he belongs"
January 15, 2010: "For Centennial, they paired up their top two defenseman Brett Stern and Charlie Aus against Decowski all night long. Since they were matched up all night, I guess you'd have to grade them on how they did against Decowski, which wasn't very good.
Stern is a future DI player and potential NHL draft pick. He's got the big frame at 6'2" 180 lbs. and is a pretty good skater. He's still very raw though. He makes good decisions with the puck, but he doesn't have much in the way of hands, and his shot is just average. He kind of reminds me of Minnetonka's Troy Hesketh. Both are big, talented defenseman, and you're always waiting for them to really take over a game, but that's not their style of play. I wouldn't say Stern helped his draft stock any last night. With so many other good players out there, I might lean towards not drafting him."
I had some harsh assessments of Stern this year, but also saw him a number of times that I apparently didn't write about where he looked pretty good. A game against Moorhead HS stands out in my mind as a game where I was really impressed with him. I don't think he has the high end potential to be that serious of a draft prospect, but if he continues to develop a physicality and meanness to his game that he showed at his best this year, he wouldn't be a bad draft pick in the 5th-7th round of the draft.
His combination of size, and a fairly safe, simple style of game means he could potentially play at the NHL level, even if he doesn't necessarily have NHL level skills. A 4-6 defenseman is probably the max of his upside, however.