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2016 USHL Phase II Draft: Top New England Prospects

Gustaf Westlund, a Michigan commit, is one of the best New England prospects for the USHL Phase II Draft.
Gustaf Westlund, a Michigan commit, is one of the best New England prospects for the USHL Phase II Draft.
Stephen Slade

After the excitement of Monday's USHL Phase I (Futures) Draft, league teams will turn their attention towards the present or the more near future. In Tuesday's USHL Phase II Draft, organizations can select any player not on a protected or affiliates list who is born between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2000, also excluding any 2000-born player selected in Monday's Phase I.

Here's a look at several of the top '97s, '98s and '99s from prep hockey (and one from the EHL) who should hear their names called Tuesday morning:

'97s

Ben Finkelstein, Sr., RD, Kimball Union Academy, 5-9/185, 10/1/97 (St. Lawrence) - He's undersized, but he's an absolute game changer on the blue line. His ability to break the puck out of his own zone as well as impact the offense at the other end is special. He has great agility and straight line speed. He has a good stick and while his offense is what he's most known for, he has the recovery speed to contain opposing forwards. The only question mark here is if he goes to school in 2016-17.

Gustaf Westlund, Jr., LC, The Gunnery, 5-11/159, 12/12/97 (Michigan) - A great skater, he has the potential to be a dynamic player down the road. He has good length and can make plays offensively. He didn't finish as much as he might have liked to last winter, but it was easy to see the enormous potential. He was the top center as his prep squad won the New England Prep School Elite Tournament.

Eduards Tralmaks, LW, Boston Bandits, 6-3/187, 2/17/97 (Maine) - He's a power forward who is an intriguing prospect. The Latvian native had a good showing at Beantown Spring Classic, which spurned an interest from the Black Bears. He's strong on his skates and can barrel his way through traffic and into scoring areas.

Ben Solin, LW, Phillips Exeter, 5-10/165, 7/21/97 (Harvard) - The Madison, Conn. native improved dramatically over the past few years, eventually earning an offer from the Crimson. He's a skilled forward with good puck pursuit and a high compete level. The puck went through him for Dana Barbin's offense this past winter.

'98s

Marshall Rifai, Jr., LD, Hotchkiss School, 5-11/175, 3/16/98 (Harvard) - He's a dynamic skater that can impact the breakout and push the possession battle towards his team. His straight line speed and agility are both top notch. His hockey IQ is his one negative right now, but he's got time to improve that. He's here at third because he might go back to prep school and he's an import so some teams might be limited there.

Brian Matthews, Sr., Belmont Hill School, 5-11/175, 4/21/98 (Yale) - Look for Chicago Steel to take Matthews, who will graduate from prep school and play a year of juniors before going to college. Dan Muse knows him well from the recruiting process. He's a simple, steady blue liner. He's a good skater, but not flashy.

Casey Carreau, Jr., RW, Thayer Academy, 5-10/180, 3/8/98 (Boston College) - He's a great athlete who has a high compete level. He's a glue type of player. He's smart and has good vision. He's a complete player and plays well away from the puck. He's a good skater who gets on pucks quickly.

'99s

Corey Andonovski, Jr., RW, Saint Andrew's College, 6-0/170, 3/26/99 (Princeton) - He's a strong skater who plays a complete game. Simply put, he's just a good hockey player who makes good plays. He has strong hockey IQ, makes good looks, reads plays, has a hard wrist shot and is patient.

Ethan Kimball, Jr., RC, St. Mark's, 6-0/175, 4/1/99 - He's made big strides over the past season and has matured physically quite a bit. He's more confident and composed with the puck. He's a good skater, is heavy on pucks and had a strong powerful stride.

Ian Murphy, Jr., RW, BC High, 5-11/160, 4/6/99 - The way he thinks the game offensively and his overall skill set stand out. He's fast with a nice initial first step and good shiftiness. He has an accurate shot and can separate from defensemen to get it off.

Jerry Harding, Soph., RW, Nobles, 6-0/185, 3/22/99 - He missed the last part of the prep season due to injury, but he's a player who plays a complete game. He plays through the body and doesn't stop. He's a physical force on the ice, skates well and does a lot of things well.

Matt Holmes, Soph., LC, Brunswick, 6-2/200, 2/22/99 - He's a big power forward in the making whose initial burst of speed is strong for a player his size and age. The way he gets on pucks and moves is impressive. He's still figuring out how to use his size to his advantage and be consistently good, but he's a promising prospect.

Paul Edson, Soph., LD, St. John's Prep, 6-3/185, 11/1/99 - He's a tall, lanky blue liner who is still figuring out the game, but his first stride and how quickly he gets on opposing forwards is notable to anyone who's seen him play. He's still a year or two away, but he has pro upside with his size and physical tools.

Jack Cameron, Soph., LD, Lawrence Academy, 6-2/160, 4/18/99 - He's raw, but he's a pretty good skater for his age and size. He's poised and confident with the puck. He stood out more in the fall split season than he did in the prep games. His potential is strong.

John Mulera, Jr., RW, Winchendon, 5-8/145, 5/11/99 (Providence) - He's a speedster who gets in on the forecheck and gets to pucks quickly. He zips around the ice, can disrupt the opposition's flow and is a glue type guy for a line, despite his lack of size.

Cam Gendron (Central Catholic), Max Rand (Brooks), Jack Lisbet (Dexter), Vilho Saariluoma (Cushing) and Ben Thomas (Winchendon) are other '99s who could be selected in Tuesday's draft.