The Tier One AAA Hockey League held their annual playoffs last weekend at the Schwan's Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. It's one of the last major scouting events of the season for 2000 birth year players who are eligible to begin playing junior hockey next season.
My overall impression this year has been that the 2000 group is a bit down compared to previous years--moreso in the West, there are some excellent New England prospects this year--and that seemed to be the case in the T1EHL too. It didn't help that three pretty good prospects(Drew DeRidder, Erik Middendorf, and Adam Samuelsson) were overseas playing with the US Youth Olympic Games team. There were some good players in Blaine, but I just didn't see the depth of talent compared to many years, especially the '99 age group, which once again looked very impressive at this tournament.
As per usual, I've broken down players into three categories. 'A' players are likely NTDP evaluation camp invites or some equivalent. 'B' players are probable USHL Futures Draft picks. 'C' players are potential USHL picks. Also, it's a big tournament, many games are going on simultaneously, and I'm one person. Sometimes kids get missed. I'm just reporting what I saw.
Nolan Foote-F-Colorado Thunderbirds-Foote went out with a separated shoulder two periods into the first game of the weekend, so he didn't play much. The little he did play was good though. Foote isn't a tremendous skater, but he makes up for that with good hockey sense. He's a strong, patient puck-handler. General consensus is that he will follow his older brother Cal to play for Kelowna in the WHL.
Ryan O'Reilly-F-Dallas Stars(Omaha)-There is a lot to like about O'Reilly's game. He's got a big frame with excellent skill to go along with it. He projects as a skilled power forward as he matures.
Demetrios Koumantzis-Phoenix Coyotes(Arizona State)-The Edina, MN native looked good in his return to his home state. Koumantzis has elite speed and a great skillset. He was a bit adrift without Middendorf, however, and was a bit quiet offensively. He has all the tools to be an elite player, but needs to be a little more aggressive in using them to create offense. He also showed excellent effort on the defensive end of the ice.
Curtis Hall-F-Cleveland Barons-Hall is a speedy forward that moves the puck effectively and plays with a bit of edge to his game.
Jace Foskey-D-Dallas Stars-Foskey is a big, physical defensive defenseman. He's still a bit rough around the edges, but has a lot of upside if he can round out his game.
Matt Cameron-F-North Jersey Avalanche-Cameron is a solid all-around player that showed great poise and stickhandling ability with the puck.
Mason Mannek-F-Colorado Thunderbirds-Mannek's low center of gravity and strong skating make him a physical force that should excel at the junior level.
Chase Pletzke-F-Oakland Grizzlies-Pletzke isn't huge, but is a really good skater and always gives 100% effort.
Brandon Tabakin-D-North Jersey Avalanche-A little defenseman, but he's a smooth skater and his decision-making with the puck was fantastic all weekend. He really excels in North Jersey's puck possession-oriented system.
Will Brown-D-Colorado Thunderbirds-Brown is a tremendous skater. His play with the puck isn't quite as advanced as his feet, but the potential is there.
Hunter Carrick-D-Oakland Grizzlies-Younger brother of Connor Carrick. He isn't quite the natural skater that Connor is, but he's a little bigger and plays a smart, solid defensive game.
Michael McCosh-F-Phoenix Coyotes-Son of short-time NHLer Shawn McCosh. Has a solid frame and good stick. Good upside as a power forward as he continues to mature physically.
Kyle Gudme-D-Oakland Grizzlies
Ross Mitton-F-North Jersey Avalanche
Cannon Green-F-Oakland Grizzlies
Matthew Doyle-D-Buffalo Sabres
Owen Farris-F-Dallas Stars
Adam Steinwold-D-Victory Honda
Tyler Ross-D-Columus Blue Jackets
Callahan Neuroth-D-LA Kings
Conner Griebenow-F-Dallas Stars
Trevor Peca-F-Buffalo Sabres