Led by Eden Prairie forward Casey Mittelstadt, six players with verbal commits to Minnesota have been named to Central Scouting’s 2017 NHL Draft players to watch list.
Mittelstadt, who is splitting his draft-eligible season between Green Bay (USHL) and Eden Prairie (MN-HS), is expected by Central Scouting to be chosen early by an NHL team next June. The 6’0”, 201 lbs 17 year-old is one of 29 players to receive an “A” ranking. That honor is given to players who could go in the first round.
Minnesota has not had a first round pick since Brady Skjei was chosen 28th overall by the New York Rangers in 2012.
US U-18 forward Scott Reedy (Prior Lake, MN), US U-18 defenseman Nate Knoepke (Farmington, MN), and Fargo (USHL) defenseman Clayton Phillips (Edina, MN) earned “B” rankings, given to a player expected to be taken in the second or third round.
Forwards Sammy Walker (Edina, MN) and Brannon McManus (Newport Beach, CA/Omaha - USHL) received “C” rankings. Those are given to players expected to go in the 4th-6th rounds. You can check out the entire list here.
It should be noted that this is early in the draft year. Things can, and will, change. Of the four players named to last year’s Central Scouting players to watch list, only one (Ryan Lindgren) was actually drafted. Rem Pitlick ended up going from not on the radar to a third round pick when all was said and done.
Besides the Gopher commits, one Minnesotan - St. Cloud State freshman Ryan Poehling (Lakeville) and one Big Ten player - Michigan freshman defenseman Luke Martin - also received “A” rankings. There are also two uncommitted players who could go the college route in Waterloo forward Shane Bowers and Mittelstadt’s teammate at Green Bay Maxim Zhukov.
The 2017 NHL Draft will be held June 23-24 in Chicago.
Other News & Notes:
-I was on The Pipeline Show in Edmonton this past weekend to break down the Big Ten. You can listen below.
-Speaking of Reedy, NHL.com wrote a feature on the USNTDP forward. Of the three “B” ranked players, Reedy would be the closest to sneaking into the first round if it were held today.
-In case you missed it, the Big Ten officially changed its postseason conference tournament beginning in 2017-18. Bad news for the person who enjoyed traveling to Detroit, which by the look and sound of it is just me.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate