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2015 NHL Draft: 3 New England Dark Horses

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Two years ago it was Winthrops's Chris Leblanc, last year it was North Reading's Nolan Vesey. What do the two have in common? They each play in Hockey East after spending a year of junior hockey with the South Shore Kings in the USPHL and they both grew up just north of Boston.

However, that's not all they have in common. Both Leblanc and Vesey were selected in the NHL Draft after largely skating under the Central Scouting radar. The Ottawa Senators took Leblanc in the sixth round in 2013 and Toronto took Vesey in the same round a year later.

Inevitably, a NHL team will take a flyer on a New England kid in the later rounds of the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla. The thing about dark horses is they are often overlooked and it's hard to predict who the dark horse will be, but this observer is going to take a shot.

Let's take a look at three New England players who could be this year's Leblanc or Vesey. Two are second-year draft eligible players while one is in his first year of eligibility.

Robert Carpenter, LW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL), 8/16/96 (Boston University) - The former Austin Prep star has transitioned nicely from the high school game to junior hockey. He's picked up 15 goals and 18 assists in 35 games played this season with the Musketeers. Carpenter's father Bobby is a former NHLer and his sister Alex is an Olympian and BC star. He's got the blood lines and he's got a heavy shot, but his work ethic has sometime been questioned by scouts. Admittedly, have not seen him in person this season, but he had a tendency to float for a few shifts in high school before really turning it on. When he puts it in overdrive, he can be a force offensively. He's not fast, but he is strong on his skates.

Billy Sweezey, RD, Noble & Greenough (NE Prep), 2/6/96 (Yale) - The Hanson, Mass. native was a non-roster invitee to last summer's Boston Bruins development camp. Often times that suggests a team is at least somewhat interested in the player. He has decent size and he's a dependable, reliable defenseman at the prep school level. The Yale commit is tough and plays with a purpose.

Jack Adams, RW, Malden Catholic (Mass. HS), 2/5/97 - A year ago it would have been laughable to even suggest the Boxford, Mass. native had any shot of being drafted. The six-foot-five monster has become an absolute force as a junior for the four-time defending state champion Lancers. He's got good hands, can get off a good, accurate shot and has really learned to use his size as leverage to fend off opposing defenders. He's worked with longtime New England skating guru Paul Vincent to improve his skating ability. His brother Mark, a Providence College senior, is a Buffalo Sabres draft pick. He's still a long shot to get drafted, but don't be surprised if a team takes a flyer on him in the sixth round.


Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.