Minnesota Hockey held their annual Model Camp for some of the top high school players in the state of Minnesota last week.
I was there Monday and Friday for the camp games, and thought I would share some of my thoughts on players that stood out to me. I’ve separated the players into three groups by age, since level of expectation varies significantly for each age group.
Casey Mittelstadt-F-Eden Prairie(‘98+)(Minnesota)- I felt like Mittelstadt was mostly going through the motions of a summer league game where he doesn’t really have to prove anything most of the second half of his Monday game. But with his team trailing by one goal late in the game, he flipped on the switch and scored on his last shift in regulation, then scored on the first shift of overtime to win the game. It was that easy for him.
Scott Reedy-F-NTDP U18(‘99)(Minnesota)- Reedy and Mittelstadt are in the running to be the top American drafted in next year’s NHL Draft. In a way, I see the decision between the two in much the same way—albeit on a lesser scale—as the decision between Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine at the top of this year’s Draft. Mittelstadt, like Laine, is the better pure goal scorer, but Reedy, like Matthews has the ability to play center, which gives him more versatility, and is the better 200-foot player. I’m not sure Reedy is enough of a scorer to push for the top-5 in next year’s Draft, but he’s certainly starting the year in the upper half of the first round.
Nate Knoepke-D-NTDP U18(‘99)(Minnesota)-I’m still not quite sure what to make of Knoepke in regards to next year’s Draft. There’s no doubt he’s got a tremendous amount of physical talent. He’s big and he moves really well for his size. I’m not totally convinced there is much beyond that though(call it Glover/Collins Syndrome). This type of loose summer hockey isn’t always the best indicator though. I’ll be interested to see how he handles NCAA competition with the NTDP this year, which should give a better read.
John Stampohar-D-Grand Rapids(‘98+)-Stampohar is one of the more underrated sleepers for next year’s Draft. I’ve always really liked his skating ability, and he’s still got some growing and filling out to do. But I was really impressed with the strides he’s made in terms of hockey sense. He used his skating ability to buy himself time with the puck and open up passing lanes, making him more effective with the puck.
Clayton Phillips-D-Edina(‘99)(Minnesota)-Phillips has developed into a pretty steady performer. He’s got exceptional balance and puck-handling ability and moves the puck really effectively from the blue line. I’ll be interested to see how he does in Fargo this year, but at this point, he’s a very likely NHL Draft pick.
Sammy Walker-F-Edina(‘99)(Minnesota)-Walker had a really great camp. His performance reminded me a lot of Rem Pitlick at this event last year. Coming off just an okay year, Walker looks like he’s grown a little and added some strength, and used his explosive quickness to drive play offensively.
Ben Copeland-F-Edina(‘99)-There’s no doubt Copeland was the fastest player on the ice, but all that speed never amounted to anything tangible in terms of offense. If he can develop the ability to work into the interior of the defense rather than just using his speed on the perimeter, he could be a really good player.
Dylan Johnson-F-Cloquet(‘98+)-Johnson isn’t a player I’ve seen a lot of over the past few years, but he really stood out here. He reminds me of former Cloquet forward Tyler Johnson, who went on to have a pretty decent career at Colorado College.
Brian Halonen-F-Delano(‘99)-Delano is a trendy pick for one of the top teams in Minnesota next year after some impressive summer scrimmage results, and Halonen will be a big part of that.
Nick Mueller-D-Buffalo(‘98)-Mueller is a smaller defenseman that doesn’t draw a lot of attention, but he’s a nice skater that plays with the puck on his stick a lot. He’ll likely get an opportunity to play juniors somewhere next year.
Blake McLaughlin-F-Grand Rapids(Minnesota)-I’ve always loved the tenacity McLaughlin plays with, and he’s got the hockey sense to get himself into the right positions to win pucks. As he’s gotten stronger over the past year, he’s a lot quicker now too, and his line really dominated possession when he was out on the ice.
Ben Brinkman-D-Edina(Minnesota)-Got off to a bit of a slow start, but by the end of the week, was really impressive, as he usually is. I’m baffled why he wasn’t selected for the US Select 17 team later this summer.
Devlin McCabe-F-St. Paul Academy(Minnesota Duluth)-McCabe is so good on both ends of the ice. He was solid in both games I saw.
Colin Schmidt-F-Wayzata(Minnesota)-Not his best performance here—again, always worth remembering that this is summer hockey, and not incredibly high stakes for some players—but the talent is evident, and he probably has the most upside of anyone in this group.
Ben Helgeson-F-Hill-Murray-Helgeson has taken another step forward since last season by getting stronger and a little bit quicker to go along with his good, strong handle on the puck. He was explosive and effective here.
Jaxon Nelson-F-Luverne(Minnesota)-Still not sure what to make of Nelson. His size is obviously an asset, but I still question if he has the hockey sense to take full advantage of that. It could be something he develops playing high level hockey in the USHL this year though.
Brady Meyer-F-North Branch-Meyer flew way under the radar last season because he played for North Branch, not exactly a hockey powerhouse. But he’s got a ton of potential. He’s a big forward that can handle the puck and his skating looked decent. Apparently he’s playing AAA with the Minnesota Blades this fall and should start drawing a lot more attention.
Jack Lagerstrom-D-Shattuck-St. Mary’s-Not the most exciting player, but Lagerstrom is strong, solid player that moves really well.
Ryan Antonakis-D-Lakeville North-Antonakis is a smaller defenseman that has always been a smart, reliable player, but watching him here, it looks like he’s added a lot of quickness to go along with his strong hockey sense. I think he could be a breakout player this year.
Xander Lamppa-F-Rochester John Marshall-I hadn’t seen Lamppa play before, but I was really impressed. He was strong, smart, and really effective in the games I saw.
Wyatt Palmer-F-Shattuck-St. Mary’s-Palmer has a big body and doesn’t shy away from contact, so even though he isn’t the most skilled player, he wins a lot of puck battles and makes a lot of things happen.
Jett Jungels-F-Edina-Jungels kind of fell off the USHL draft radar last year as the year progressed, but he was using his speed really effectively here, and should make more impact at the high school level this coming year.
Max Carter-D-Rosemount-Carter a later birthdate that played Bantams last year so he flew under the radar a bit, but he looked strong here.
Tyler Kostolecky-F-Maple Grove-His lack of physical development at this point meant I wasn’t as impressed with him here as I was at the Minnesota Select 15 Camp earlier this summer against his own age group, but I still like his upside. He’s a really quick skater with strong hands and decent hockey sense.
Mason Reiners-D-Edina-A really smooth, balanced skater. He probably could have done a better job being more aggressive and assertive with the puck here, but that should come as he matures.
Grant Silianoff-F-Shattuck-St. Mary’s(Notre Dame)-Silianoff’s skating still makes me question how he’ll do when everyone else in his age group gets stronger and adds another step or two of quickness. He’s a skilled player though and had a few nice moments in the games I saw.
Jake Boltmann-D-Edina-Boltmann is a good skater that uses his speed to push the puck up the ice offensively.
Ethan Haider-G-Maple Grove-It’s tough to judge goalies in these types of events because sometimes they don’t see many shots, and sometimes they see a lot of high quality shots. But I was impressed with a few of the saves made by Haider. He didn’t look out of place as a high school caliber goalie, which is rare for a kid that could still technically play Bantams this year.