Name: Chris Casto
Weight: 200 lbs.
09-10 team: Hill-Murray(Minnesota)
09-10 stats: 25 games, 11 goals, 17 assists, 28 points
Defenseman Chris Casto is a bit of a late-bloomer that has flown under the radar of many people, including NHL Central Scouting. But the senior defenseman had an outstanding year which should garner him some consideration in the later rounds of the NHL Draft.
Casto started his year with a strong performance in the Upper Midwest Elite League, where he was a top defenseman on the team that dominated in the league's National Invitational Tournament. In January, during the high school season, he committed to play college hockey for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He finished off his year with a run to the state tournament, where he was outstanding in an epic multi-overtime loss to Minnetonka.
Casto isn't huge, standing at only 6'1", but is a very strong 200 lbs. and skates very well. He showed some offensive abilities against high school competition, but is likely more of a stay-at-home type as he progresses.
Casto will play a year in the USHL before heading to Duluth for his college hockey career. He was drafted early in the second round of the USHL Entry Draft by the Lincoln Stars.
Links of Interest:
It's All Working Out for Casto-Minnesota Hockey Hub-January 2010
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 17, 2009: "Casto is like a slightly smaller, more polished version of Mark Alt. He's very effective in all three zones of the ice. It's tough to pick out one area where he's great, but he does everything pretty well. Casto should be the leader of a Hill-Murray team that is always strong, but probably still a year away from making a more serious run at things."
January 13, 2010: "Hill-Murray senior defenseman Chris Casto committed to Minnesota-Duluth for the 2011-2012 season on Tuesday. I was a litlte surprised that NHL Central Scouting overlooked him in their mid-term rankings, but he's one of the top senior players in the state of Minnesota this year, and should be an excellent addition to UMD's blueline."
April 7 2008: "Chris Casto finally made the [Central Scouting] list, albeit at the end, after my lobbying for it all year."
Casto is borderline to be selected in the NHL Draft, if only because in later rounds, teams are looking to take players that maybe have more flaws, but also a potentially higher ceiling, as opposed to a solid all-around player that perhaps doesn't have as much upside as Casto.
That said, I think Casto's skating, and perhaps more importantly, his work ethic, is enough that some team will likely roll the dice with him in the later rounds of the draft. Next year will be telling, but so far, he's been a player that has risen to the occasion and played his best when the level of competition rises, and could develop into a nice pro player.