I was at Lincoln Stars Tryout Camp last weekend in Minneapolis. For a full, and I mean full, recap of camp, check out the excellent Black and Blue Blog for full recaps of every single game from the camp. If nothing else, give the guy a click through because he really helped me out with rosters for the final all-star games.
Lincoln had a pretty good team last year, winning the USHL's Western Conference, and judging by their tryout camp this year, they should be pretty good once again. In comparing them to Sioux Falls and Fargo, who held their tryout camps the weekend prior, Lincoln appeared to be a cut above. The Stars had an embarrassment of riches in terms of solid overage players, and import players. There's going to be some difficult decisions in cutting down to the allowed number in both categories.
The one question mark for the Stars may be when it comes to scoring. Junior teams usually lose their top scorers every year, but this year, the Stars will have to replace Kevin Roy, who was the USHL's first 50-goal scorer since Mark Mowers 19 years ago. That's a lot of slack for everybody else to pick up.
After the jump, I'll share a few notes on some individual players.
Overagers- This is going to be a really tough call getting down to four. If I had to pick, I'd go with: Eric Scheid, Paul LaDue, Logan Smith, and Bob Kinne. Will Suter had a nice camp though, and Jackson Teichroeb is one of their best options in goal.
The two best goalies at the camp were pretty clearly Michael Bitzer and returning goalie Jackson Teichroeb. There weren't really any goalies behind them that looked ready for the USHL next season. The only problem with Teichroeb is that he would use both an overage slot and an import spot, and Lincoln had a lot of good skaters that could fill those roles. Bitzer looked capable of handling starting duties for the Stars. I could see the Stars going with Bitzer and then looking to pick up a back-up that doesn't make somebody else's team.
Justin Woods(Alaska)-He developed really nicely with a year in the NAHL, and looks ready for the USHL this year. Physical defenseman that makes a nice first pass out of the zone.
Chris Buchanan- I thought he was borderline to make Fargo's squad the week prior, and apparently I was right. With Taylor Richart committing to Miami, Buchanan was reportedly offered a spot with the Force and ended up leaving this camp on Saturday.
Daniel Willett(Northeastern)-Very tiny defenseman, but quick and super-skilled. Twitter rumors indicate that he was offered a spot on the team.
Zach Pittman- Good size, and a good skater. Reportedly offered a spot on the team. Another draft prospect to keep an eye on next season.
Austin Yano- Small, puck-moving defenseman from Canada. Had a really nice camp.
Parker Reno-Had a really strong camp. He's definitely heading back to Edina for his senior season, and should be one of the top remaining seniors in the state. I think he's got huge upside, and has a great shot at being an NHL draft pick next year.
William Scherer-Really impressed with this kid. Very smooth defenseman. Made both all-star games. Probably a year away from the USHL, but definitely a future college player.
Stuart Pomeroy(Princeton)-A little less developed than I was expecting. Listed at 6'2" 205 lbs, but that seemed like a huge stretch. Made the Young Guns all-star game. He's a lanky, athletic kid, and seems like he has the upside to develop into a nice player.
Jack Walker-Super quick and light on his feet. He made the main all-star game, and I think he'd be able play junior hockey. I'm not sure the Stars will take him with Willett being offered a spot. I wouldn't be surprised if he played in the WHL next year.
Luke Johnson(North Dakota)- This will be a big season for Johnson, as it is his draft year. Johnson is a great skater, and has a really heavy snap shot. I'm not sure he has the hands to have much offensive upside though. He averaged a point per game last year, which is impressive, but he was also playing with a guy that scored 104 points. He'll start out as an 'A' prospect in my first 2013 Draft list, but if he can't maintain that scoring pace without Kevin Roy, I could see him dropping a bit throughout the year. As a bonus rumor, Johnson missed the beginning of camp, and the rumor I heard was that he was taking classes to accelerate his schooling. He could be trying to get that done in case North Dakota has another late summer departure, allowing North Dakota to bring him in, rather than scrambling for another non-scholarship type player.
Ross Olsson(Northeastern)- 6'4" forward. He's eligible for the 2013 Draft, and will likely be a draft pick. He's not really fast, but has pretty good hands for a big guy.
Vinni Lettieri(Minnesota)-Deceptively athletic and great hands. He's another kid that is going to be very tough to peg for the draft next year because he's not very big. I don't think he'll have any problem putting up points this year in the USHL though.
Tyler Nanne- Played in both all-star games. He's really skinny, but showed a lot of speed and playmaking ability. Once he fills out, he should be a really high-end player.
Jake Wood(RPI)- Smaller forward, but fast and isn't afraid to play with an edge.
Michael Neville-I was surprised how average his stats were with St. Mike's in Ontario last year considering how he played here. He did just about everything in this camp, and looked like he'd be a solid USHL player.
Brent Wold- Another veteran junior player from Canada that had a nice camp.
Eric Scheid-You can really tell the difference between someone that has played college hockey like Scheid, and kids that haven't. Pretty much everyone there can make plays with time and space, but Scheid was able to make plays along the boards with someone hanging on his back. He shouldn't have much trouble finding a new school to play at.
Max Humitz- A waterbug type forward that had a really nice camp. Reportedly offered a spot on the team.
Zach Zech- Not a very big kid, but I love the way he played. Skilled, and played with a nice edge. Made the Young Guns all-star game.
Gordie Helmuth- Plays stronger than the 165 lbs. he's listed at. He could be a force when he fills out.
Brendon Kearney- Very solid '95 players that played midget major last year. Picked for Young Guns game.
Michael Bunn- Very speedy player, and was having a good camp until he crashed into the boards on Saturday night and left with a leg injury.
Ryan Norman-Not quite as impressive here as he was playing against players against his own age. His skating held him back a little bit. But I still think he's got a bright future.
Levi Wunder-Didn't stand out here, but a really young '96 that could be worth watching.
Mitchell Snyder- I thought he had a really nice camp. A '94, but got a look in the Young Guns game. Could be a solid player for somebody in junior hockey.
'97 birthdates- There were three '97 forwards at this camp: Ty Comrie, Ethan Price, and Keegan Ward. Comrie looked the most comfortable. Tough to compare him at age 15 to half-brother Mike at age 18, but my impression was that Ty doesn't nearly the stickhandling ability Mike did, but the type of shot and goal-scoring ability that Mike liked to think he had. Price and Ward are both pretty physically developed for their age. They weren't overly impressive, but that's to be expected against older, quality competition.