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2014 NHL Draft Prospect: Matheson Iacopelli

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The Player

Matheson Iacopelli

Forward

Muskegon Lumberjacks(USHL)

2013-2014 stats: 58 games 41 goals 22 assists 63 points

Height: 6'1.5"  Weight: 192 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 98th among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Iacopelli has very soft hands and tremendous scoring touch for a player his size. He's got great offensive instincts, an above average shot, and isn't afraid to use his size to gain position and win pucks in front of the net. Forty goals in the USHL is an impressive number that is rarely reached.

On the downside, Iacopelli is an average skater at best, and while he does play a physical game, isn't as strong on the defensive end.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

Iacopelli is a '94 birthdate that has been passed over in the draft twice. In his draft year, he played Major Midget hockey for Little Caesar's AAA program and didn't do anything noteworthy. His big breakout season came the following year, when he moved to the Belle Tire AAA organization and became one of the leading scorers in the Tier I AAA league. But still, questions remained if Iacopelli could still be a scorer at a higher level. This year in the USHL, Iacopelli continued scoring, leading the league in goals scored, which drew the attention of NHL scouts.

Draft projection?

When it comes to older prospects in their final year of eligibility, it often comes down to personal team preference. Some teams may really like a player; others may not have him on their list at all. Central Scouting certainly likes Iacopelli, but will an actual NHL team? He was invited to the NHL Combine(and did quite well, though one would expect so with two years on the rest of the field), so it's a pretty safe bet he's drafted somewhere.

Pro upside?

Iacopelli is high-risk, high-reward as a prospect. He's a little one-dimensional, but scoring is a pretty important dimension. His upside is a second line forward and power play specialist that nets a lot of goals, but his advanced age combined with the fact that scoring goals in the NHL is just really hard to do, makes the odds of achieving potential fairly low. He'd have to really improve his foot speed and defensive play to become a serviceable lower line player.

Where will he go next?

Some NCAA Clearinghouse issues meant Iacopelli will return to Muskegon next season. After that, he has committed to play college hockey at Western Michigan. When he goes to the pros will likely depend on the amount of success he has at Western Michigan, but as an older draft prospect, and one that's a little more physically developed, he'll probably have a shorter stay in the NCAA.