The 2016 Beantown Spring Classic took place March 9 through March 11 at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. With the exception of college and USHL players, the majority of the region's talent on the NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings were in attendance. Belmont Hill's Brian Matthews (injury), Avon Old Farms' Adam Karashik and Selects Academy at South Kent's Carter Long were the only three players missing who were among the players listed on the midterm rankings. There were certainly more forwards to look at here than defensemen.
Overall, this year was a down year in prep, high school and junior hockey in New England in terms of NHL Draft prospects. There were the trio of players on Avon, Karashik, Armstrong and Harper, but there were no players destined for the top two or three rounds.
With only four teams, the Beantown Draft Division wasn't as watered down as most showcase
Here's a look at the top performers from the draft division, factoring in how they played with pro potential. All heights and weights are as listed on NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings except for those players not ranked, which were taken from Beantown scout book.
1. Greg Printz, Red #13, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 6-1.75/196, 5/4/98, Selects Academy 18U (Providence) - There were a few shifts here where he just dominated with his powerful skating, size and speed. He's already very good, but there is potential for further growth and development. He absolutely could be a good power forward who will have an impact along the walls and down low. He has a hard shot and one sequence that really stood out was a power move into the zone down the left side before he unleashed a heavy wrister without breaking stride.
Draft Stock: Rated 127th in the midterm rankings, there's likely to be a team or two that thinks he warrants a selection towards the end of the third or in the fourth round.
2. Jake Pappalardo, Red #8, Center, Shoots Right, 5-10/185, 7/11/97, Proctor (Maine) - Some scouts knock his footwork and skating ability. Sure, it's not the prettiest of strides, but showcase after showcase and in the few prep games this observer saw him at, he was the best player on the ice. Once again here, he was hard to knock off pucks and created a lot of offense. He has a hard shot with a quick release. He's rugged and gets off shots in traffic. He finishes and also made one real nice pass to set up a goal. He just flat-out competes in all three zones.
Draft Stock: He doesn't have the ceiling that Printz or Armstrong have, but he's very good and should get draft consideration in one of the last two rounds come June.
3. Kaden Pickering, White #18, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 5-10/175, 12/17/98, Northwood Prep (St. Lawrence) - There's no other way of stating it than saying he has elite speed. His speed allows him to gain time and space, he's solid away from the puck and is good in pursuit. He has a good stride and acceleration that matches it.
Draft Stock: 2017 Draft Eligible
4. Gustaf Westlund, Blue #11, Center, Shoots Left, 5-11/159, 12/12/97, The Gunnery - Much like the prep season, he had his moments, but was a little up and down. Despite looking like he still needs to adjust to the North American game some shifts, his physical tools and natural athletic ability are evident. He is a good skater who is fast and glides gracefully on the sheet. He also could benefit from bulking up. He got knocked off a few pucks here. He has quick hands and made a couple of nifty moves. He has a long reach reach and can pull back the puck before sneakily releasing it.
Draft Stock: It's tough to gauge the interest in the uncommitted Swedish import. He's still raw and didn't play Tier 1 during the split fall season. He missed a few prep games with injury, but there is certainly potential for him to develop into a player with his natural ability.
5. Jamie Armstrong, Red #15, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 6-0/183, 8/7/98, Avon Old Farms (Northeastern) - He didn't play Friday, but played well Thursday. He was strong around the net and used his body to leverage the puck from opposing defenders. He's improved and is coming into his body.
Draft Stock: He's already strong and has a good work ethic. He'll continue to develop and become an even better player. He's a player, especially with his pedigree, that could sneak into the third round, but anywhere from the fourth to fifth is probably reasonable. He was 133rd in the CSS midterm rankings.
6. Ty Amonte, Blue #12, Center, Shoots Right, 5-11/185, 1/11/98, Thayer (Boston University) - With each viewing he seems to get better and better. He created offensive opportunities here and his skating is better than it was a year ago by a mile. Bolting down the left side, he pulled up, stopping on a dime and sent out a pass to the middle for a nice chance during Thursday's action.
Draft Stock: Similarly to Armstrong, there is the pedigree with his dad Tony. The fact he's gotten so much better in just a year's time will give a team hope that his progression will elevate him into an even better player.
7. Patrick Harper, Red #17, Center, Shoots Left, 5-7/146, 7/29/98, Avon Old Farms (Boston University) - It wasn't his best week, but he still created offense with his speed and elite hands. His quickness cannot be overstated. He just flies and can get around defenders.
Draft Stock: Is he dynamic and fast enough to overcome his lack of size? That is the question NHL brass will ask of their scouts who've seen him. The jury is still out. He's a guy who could sneak into the final round or two.
8. Casey Carreau, Blue #14, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 5-10/170, 3/8/98, Thayer - He's a great athlete who is also a very good baseball player. He's strong for his size and was tough to knock off pucks. He showed off his vision on a beautiful backdoor pass to the weak side from the left wall. He's an above average skater who is good in pursuit of pucks.
Draft Stock: Minimal chances of being drafted, but has several prominent Hockey East schools showing interest with BC reportedly among them.
9. Kevin O'Neil, Blue #14, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 5-9.5/156, 2/23/98, Albany Academy (Yale) - He didn't stand out a whole lot this weekend, but he did some nice things. He made several nice passes and clearly has good vision. He's a smooth skater with above average hockey sense.
Draft Stock: He'll develop into a nice college player, but beyond that, it's tough to sell a GM on using a draft pick on a player his size without an elite offensive skill set.
10. Eduards Tralmaks, White #17, Left Wing, Shoots Left, 6-3/187, 2/17/97, Boston Bandits - He exhibited some traits that could mean he'd turn into a decent power forward down the road with his size. He had a few strong moves with the pucks for goals or to set up a goal. He made a nice move down the left side before dishing it off to line mate Dylan Healy for a goal on Friday.
Draft Stock: The Latvian native lit up the EHL this winter and has the size and heavy-footed moves with the puck that could intrigue an NHL team, but it's a big-time long shot.
11. Michael Fahie, Blue #13, Center, Shoots Right, 5-10/150, 7/23/98, Nobles (Brown) - He's one of those players that just goes about his business, making plays, without being too flashy. He made some good passes, played well away from the puck and is sneaky fast.
12. Jack Riley, Blue #17, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 6-3/205, 4/24/96, PAL Junior Islanders - He's certainly not a top six player and he was on the older side here, but he did some nice things to indicate he could be a good bottom six type player at an Atlantic Hockey school down the road. He's strong on pucks, physical and competed.
13. Anthony Vincent, White #14, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 5-10/175, 8/27/97, Salisbury - He's a good passer who skates well enough. He's a player who could be a good fourth line winger who works the penalty kill. He has decent hockey sense and awareness of the ice.
14. Vito Bavaro, Blue #10, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 6-2/170, 10/1/97, Brooks (Sacred Heart) - He's always had a nice shot and been a player that can move up and down the right wing, but he's added some speed to his game. He did a nice job going to the net. He scored a nice goal by driving the far post and tapping in a centering feed.
15. Pete Housakos, Blue #8, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 6-3/180, 11/212/96, St. Mark's - A converted defenseman from Montreal, he's recently moved up to forward. It's definitely his better position as he doesn't have the foot speed or instincts to be a blue liner at the college level. He's strong on pucks, can muck and grind it down low and has a hard shot. He could be a good third or fourth line winger for a lower tier Hockey East or ECAC Hockey school or an Atlantic Hockey team.
1. Marshall Rifai, Red #16, Defense, Shoots Left, 5-11/175, 3/16/98, Hotchkiss (Harvard) - The Beaconsfield, Quebec native is an elite skater. Watching him skate around the ice is a thing of beauty. He can go from 0 to 60 quickly, he can recover well and he is fast. It goes without saying that his skating is his strength. He does a nice job of getting shots on net from the point, he has good footwork and a decent stick for poke checks. His hockey IQ and how he thinks the game are his weaknesses, but that can certainly be taught.
Draft Stock: There were more than a few NHL scouts whose sole reason for being there was to evaluate his potential. He didn't get to the ice until the second period in Friday's game and before he did, one NHL scout remarked that he was the only reason he was there. His skating is so elite that a team will likely grab him in the third round with the hopes his hockey IQ improves as he develops.
2. A.J. Villella, Black #2, Defense, Shoots Left, 6-0/175, 1/26/98, Juniors Bruins 18U (Northeastern) - He impressed here. He brought a little bit of physicality, was an above average skater and covered a lot of ground in the defensive zone. He had a good stick, was decent on gaps and showed a propensity to jumping into the rush.
3. Colin Bernard, White #6, Defense, Shoots Left, 5-11/170, 10/27/97, Brunswick School - He's a little undersized, but he's a good skater who made some nice plays. He made a few good poke checks and kept forwards to the outside by being active.
4. Kyle Peterson, Blue #6, Defense, Shoots Right, 5-11/170, 5/27/97, Thayer - A Northeastern baseball commit, he's an athletic blue liner with good instincts. He gets in passing and shooting lanes and is mobile enough. He's physical and gets a decently hard shot on net from the point.
5. Jordan Tetreault, Black #5, Defense, Shoots Left, 6-1/195, 5/5/98, Junior Bruins Premier - He's a rugged defenseman with decent size and mobility who was solid here.