On Wednesday, USA Hockey announced the roster for the 2015 NTDP Evaluation Camp that will take place March 20-24 at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Mich. Seven New Englanders are among the 50 invites to the camp that will help decide the roster for the 2015-16 US Under-17 Team.
Back in January, this observer released a list evaluating the top '99-born prospects playing prep school or high school hockey in New England. Four of the five players that were graded as 'A' prospects made the evaluation camp roster.
This post is concentrated on the New England players, but this observer has had the good fortune of seeing a majority of these players at least a few times from last summer's USA Hockey Select 15 Festival, the USHL Atlantic Challenge, the Beantown Classics and various USPHL showcases in the New England region. Before the camp, I'll post some thoughts on some of the other top players outside of New England heading to Ann Arbor who I've observed.
Tommy Craft, Fr., RD, Deerfield Academy - He has a good frame which has certainly drawn the eye of scouts. Admittedly, the Big Green had down year in prep hockey so this observer only saw them once. Craft didn't stand out too much at Select 15 Festival last summer and was ranked 33 in our post-camp evaluations.
Philip Kemp, Soph., RD, Brunswick School (Brown) - He's a another big kid with a lot of raw ability, but his game is just a little more refined than Craft's. He's not flashy, but he does a lot of things well. He's not going to be wowing observers with his skating and cutting, but he makes heady decisions with the puck which helps his team transition up ice. He's solid defensively, but had trouble at times in this observer's viewings of prep games this winter.
Marc McLaughlin, Soph., RC, Cushing Academy (St. Lawrence) - Admittedly, he slipped under my radar at last summer's Select 15 Festival, but he was very impressive during the prep season. He's strong on his skates and can move well laterally. He's a good two-way player who can get a shot off real quickly. The Penguins had a real good season so seeing him a lot, there were a few games where he really stood out. His presence on the ice made it difficult to believe he was only a '99.
Ben Mirageas, Fr., LD, Avon Old Farms - His prep team had an unusually down season, but in this observer's five viewings, he was impressive with the puck. He did a nice job retrieving pucks in his own zone and was poised and confident with the puck. An above average skater, he let the game come to him. The only knock was his proneness to sometimes taking risks with the puck, but that's to be expected of most kids with puck skills playing as a youngster at the prep level.
Keith Petruzzelli, Soph., G, Springfield Cathedral (Quinnipiac) - The big goaltender is an elite talent with all the physical tools. He's big, he's technically sound in the crease, eats up rebounds and rarely has to make an acrobatic save due to always being in position. His high school team was very dominant, not losing a game until Wednesday night's Super 8 semifinals, so he wasn't tested very much this season.
Jack Rathbone, Fr., LD, Dexter School - The West Roxbury, Mass. native impressed this observer at last summer's Select 15 Festival as well as the Beantown Classic. He's an elite skater with good hands. When playing against kids his age, his skating and puck skills allow him to be dominant with the puck in transition as well as in offensive zone scenarios. At the prep level, going up against kids who are sometimes three years older, he didn't have the same impact. However, his gracefulness on his skates was still noticeable.
Reilly Walsh, Soph., RD, Proctor Academy - He is an impressive skater who uses his edges and cuts well. He doesn't have the biggest frame, but he makes up for it with his competitiveness. He moves the puck well up ice by skating and distributing the puck. He has good vision and can quarterback a power play. His father, his prep school coach, played college hockey at Colgate. He's already taken visits to a few Ivy League schools including Harvard.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.