Cranberry Township, Pa. — Looking up and down the line charts of the nine USHL teams in attendance at the UPMC Lemieux Complex for the 2016 USHL Fall Classic East, there were more committed players than uncommitted players.
Just about every college hockey program in the country had a coach, or two, in the stands to check-in on previous commitments and scour the games for potential future recruits.
Here’s a look at the top uncommitted prospects who stood out over the three days of games. There were a few other uncommitted prospects who will get picked up, but they didn’t stand out for one reason or another like these 12 did. For purposes of this list, it will only include the USHL Eastern Conference teams. There will be a separate post on Red Bull Salzburg and U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team.
Andrei Svechnikov, #14 Muskegon, 6-2/185, 3/26/00, RW, Shoots Left - Considered a potential top 10 prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft, his skill set was easily notable all weekend. While it is possible he’ll never make it to college hockey, there will be interest from NCAA programs. His stride and first step are both very good. He has that explosiveness to his stride that NHL scouts want to see. He protects the puck well. His skating and footwork really shined when he caught a pass up the right wall, quickly pivoting to the middle and getting off a quality chance. He has that second gear that allows him to get to pucks and get by defenders. He didn’t look like a 2000 out there. He played with maturity. He won battles and forechecked hard. He got better as the weekend went along. On Saturday against Red Bull Salzburg, two plays really stood out. One was a toe-drag to get by a defender on the right wall before sending a pass right to the tape of a streaking line mate on the left wing. The other was a pass he made in the offensive zone. As soon as he released the pass, he drove hard at the far post.
Maksim Zhukov, #33 Green Bay, 6-3/179, 7/22/99, G, Catches Left - The Russian came highly touted to the USHL Fall Classic East. His play the first two nights didn’t disappoint, although he had to split duties with the backup. He’s a prototypical modern era goaltender who plays the butterfly. His athleticism and skating ability are fantastic. He also tracked pucks well. His strength is his glove while he’s working on getting better on the blocker. He could be a late first round NHL Draft selection come June. Whether he makes it, or will be eligible, to play college hockey is up in the air, but there will be inquiries by coaches.
Eugene Fadyeyev, #12 Madison, 5-10/171, 10/8/97, C, Shoots Right - The Ukrainian native has been playing in the U.S. since the 2011-12 season when he started with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights in the AYHL. This will be his second season in the USHL. He’s a good skater who has the agility and shiftiness to create time and space. He has a heavy one-timer and makes a nice touch pass. He has the explosiveness in his stride to come off the wall with authority and get good chances in the slot. It also gives him separation speed, which earned him a few breakaways here. He has good vision, assisting on a goal after winning a battle along the right boards. He showed some grit and toughness all weekend, and got into a good scrap with Minnesota State commit Jared Spooner.
Marc McLaughlin, #26 Cedar Rapids, 5-11/191, 7/26/99, C, Shoots Right - His best game was Saturday, where he scored twice. He’s a player who is heavy on pucks. He works hard and uses his strength to his advantage. He can stop and start quickly. His shot is heavy and he gets it off very quickly. His assets are certainly his power game, but he also has good vision that sometimes goes unnoticed. In Thursday’s game, he made a great cross-ice pass from the left circle to TJ Walsh for a good chance as a power play was expiring. He’d be a really good fit for a program like Northeastern or Providence that prides themselves on playing a heavy game. He had previously committed to St. Lawrence when UMass coach Greg Carvel was there.
Michael Karow, #27 Youngstown, 6-3/200, 12/18/98, D, Shoots Left - He’s a kid that has flown under the radar some, but he deserves attention from college recruiters. He’s not flashy, but he’s a solid, steady defenseman. He had good, tight gaps. He skates well and had a goal, but overall, he projects as a fifth or sixth defenseman that can just be dependable and reliable.
Aleksi Halme, #26 Muskegon, 5-11/176, 11/13/99, LW, Shoots Left - He was really good in Saturday’s game. The Finnish native has big time speed, appeared to have a finishing touch and thought the game well offensively. He’s a player that NHL scouts will have on their radar next year, being a late ‘99.
Marcel Godbout, #19 Madison, 5-9/189, 6/4/96, LW, Shoots Right - The St. Clair Shores, Mich. native could be a nice late pickup for a program. He’s a little undersized, but he’s rugged and has the necessary quickness to offset any size concerns. He plowed over Brown commit Myles Cunningham at his defensive blue line to force a puck into the neutral zone. He isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas and scored a rebound goal where he went hard to the net. He can protect the puck well and has a low center of gravity. He has real good speed, even on his off wing, scoring a nice goal after cutting in from the right wall on zone entry.
Matt Hudie, #53 Green Bay, 6-0/170, 2/18/96, C, Shoots Right - He found the score sheet a few times and did a nice job in all three zones. He scored a shorthanded goal and did a nice job blocking shots. He’s quick, but not the most explosive skater. He’s around the net and has a knack for finding the puck. While he’s not the flashiest of finishers, he was persistent and kept at it. He’s a player that will find a home at a school looking for an older freshman who can work hard and chip in offensively from time to time on the third or fourth line.
Jake Durflinger, #14 Bloomington, 5-9/170, 10/6/97, RW, Shoots Right - He’s not a high end pro prospect, but he could make a nice addition to a program looking for a second or third liner who has a high compete and can chip in offensively. He gets his chances offensively by working hard. He’s crafty and never stops moving his feet. He has a nose for the net and isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas. He was good on the penalty kill and made a few nice backchecks.
Samuel Solensky, #16 Youngstown, 5-10/175, 8/25/98, LW, Shoots Left - A Slovakian, he’s a player who generated chances down low. He worked hard and his speed caused problems for the other teams. He made a nice cut from right to left into the zone for a chance that just missed.
Quinn Preston, #16 Dubuque, 5-11/170, 10/21/97, C, Shoots Left - He’s a prospect that could make a good four-year player at a WCHA school. He’s a good skater who has a little bit of a jump. He’s involved in the play in the defensive zone and made several nice reads on the puck to break-up plays. While he projects as more of a third liner, he did have a nice move in the game against Green Bay. He came into the zone on the left side, cut to the middle and fired a wrist shot off the cross bar.
Austin Rueschhoff, #26 Dubuque, 6-5/201, 9/7/97, RW, Shoots Right - His skating needs work, but his size and ability to protect the puck down low and along the walls are certainly intriguing assets. He doesn’t have the best hands, even for a big guy, but he did make one real nice pass in traffic as he was moving into the slot.