This is the seventh installment of our annual list of the Top 100 NHL prospects playing in the NCAA this year, covering spots 66--70 on the list.
70. Blake Winiecki, Center, St. Cloud State(Free Agent)
Winiecki is a big centerman—always a valuable commodity at the NHL level—that has started to contribute more offensively now that he is playing a bigger role and seeing more ice time in his junior season with St. Cloud State. Winiecki is solid on face-offs, plays good defense, and has the size to provide a net-front presence, while still having the skill to not be a drain on possession when he gets the puck.
He’ll be a grinder at the next level, but the type of player that plays a valuable role for a team.
69. William Lagesson, Defenseman, UMass(Edmonton Oilers)
Lagesson is a bright spot on a UMass team that is consistently out-manned and out-played in a deep Hockey East conference. He’s a tough defensive defenseman capable of laying out big hits. He hasn’t shown a lot of progression in his offensive game from his first to second year in college hockey, which could potentially limit his upside in the pro game, but he definitely has potential as a shutdown defender at the NHL level.
68. Doyle Somerby, Defenseman, Boston University(New York Islanders)
Somerby has seen his role change a bit in his senior year at Boston University. With the addition of offensive-minded defensemen like Dante Fabbro and Chad Krys to the BU line-up this year, Somerby has had to play a more conservative, stay-at-home role, and the senior captain’s offensive numbers have plummeted as a result.
But that shouldn’t be a sign of decreased value for the smooth-skating, 6’5” defenseman, whose responsible game allows for teammates to shine. Somerby won’t be a star player at the next level, but will do the dirty work to help his teammates shine.
67. Mitch Hults, Center, Lake Superior State(Free Agent)
Late in his recruitment, Hults passed on the opportunity to play as a near-walk-on at Minnesota in order to take a bigger scholarship offer at Lake Superior State. That move has really paid off because Hults receives a ton of ice time—top line center, point on the top power play unit, top PK unit—and has ample opportunity to show off his skills. Hults is listed at 6-2 205 lbs., which gives him the size to use long reach and protect the puck effectively, but what separates him and makes him an NHL prospect is that he has extremely light feet and is a very fast skater.
Discipline is the biggest concern with Hults, but he has all the physical traits to be an effective winger at the NHL level.
66. Judd Peterson, Center, St. Cloud State(Buffalo Sabres)
I was pleasantly surprised with the continued maturation of senior Judd Peterson for St. Cloud State. He’s been pushed to top line center duties after all the players SCSU lost last summer, and he had a strong night. He’s a big, strong kid that can get moving. His goal tonight was a really pretty one.
Judd Peterson has been phenomenal both times I’ve seen St. Cloud State play. A lot of people have written the Sabres pick off as not getting signed next summer, but he looks like he’s going to force Buffalo to make a decision on him.