Position: Right Defense
2015-16 Team: Green Bay Gamblers
Hometown: Parkland, Fla.
College Commitment: Notre Dame
In a year where the number one overall pick in the NHL Draft will likely be a player who hails from Scottsdale, Ariz., it should come as no surprise that the game of hockey continues to grow at a rapid rate. Another player from the Sunbelt will hear his name called on the second day.
Notre Dame recruit Andrew Peeke of Parkland, Fla. is the 57th rated North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings. The smooth-skating, two-way defenseman has tremendous hockey sense and vision.
"I see myself as more of a two-way defenseman that's always been more of a defensive type guy first. The last couple of years I've tried to translate to more of the offensive side of my game," Peeke said.
Playing for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, Peeke continued his transformation into being more of an offensive threat from the blue line. He racked up four goals and 26 assists in 56 regular season games. He added a goal and an assist in four playoff games. His solid play in all facets of the game earned him a spot on the USHL All-Rookie Team.
Peeke proved he could more than hold his own in the best Junior A league in North America after transitioning from playing 18U with Selects Academy at South Kent, a Connecticut prep school.
"The USHL is an awesome league. The biggest difference was the faster pace and physicality of the league. It helped round out my game and prepare me for college and the next level," Peeke explained.
Named the USHL Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Peeke is eager to begin his collegiate career for Jeff Jackson's Fighting Irish.
"The whole experience," he said of what he's most excited about. "The hockey program has a great reputation. The academics are second to none. The whole experience of being at Notre Dame, such a prestigious university that not many kids have the opportunity to go there."
Peeke lacks the dynamic skill of the higher end defensemen in the draft, but the team that drafts him will be securing the rights to a steady and reliable two-way defenseman. He's very mobile for a guy his size and can get going from zero to 60 quickly. He makes strong passes in all three zones, especially moving up ice in transition. He has a quick stick and does a good job containing opposing forwards to the perimeter.
In addition to his All-Rookie honors in the USHL, Peeke played in the USA Hockey/CCM All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo and the USHL NHL Top Prospects Game in Omaha. He represented his country in last summer's Ivan Glinka Memorial Tournament. He's battle tested, and has proven he can compete against the best of the best.
Draft Projection: It's clear Peeke prides himself in his hockey IQ and vision. He wants to be known for being a defense-first blue liner. Peeke, who will likely go somewhere towards the middle to end of the third round, is a prospect who will be allowed to develop for a few years in South Bend.