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USHL Phase II Draft: New England Prep and Massachusetts High School Prospect Rankings

The 2017 USHL Phase II Draft is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2nd. Players born between 1997 and 2000 not currently on a protected or affiliate list are eligible as are 2001s not selected the previous day in Phase I.

With an important caveat, that in no way does this observer think all of these players should be drafted, the following rankings are of New England Prep Hockey and Massachusetts High School players eligible for the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft. Also included in these rankings are the non-New England prep schools that play in the holiday New England holiday tournaments, such as Culver, Northwood and St. Andrew’s.

Note: There will be an upcoming post on top USPHL and other midget hockey players from the region.

Update: Peter DiLiberatore was added to the rankings as he is no longer protected.

Organizations try to select players at the beginning of Phase II based on who they believe can have an immediate impact next season. These rankings try to reflect that as well as players who can be stashed on an affiliate list for seasons to come.

1. Jack Dugan, Northwood, Sr., C, Shoots Right, 3/24/98, 6-2/185 (Providence) – He’s likely to go in the third or fourth round of the NHL Draft. He has good size and has a great stride. He has very good hands and can rip a shot. He’s creative and is starting to come into his own. Youngstown previously drafted him, but didn’t protect him.

2. Corey Andonovski, St. Andrew’s, Sr., C/RW, Shoots Right, 3/26/99, 6-0/177 (Princeton) – He’s reportedly going to play in the BCHL with Chilliwack, but he’s worth a shot as he’s a vastly underrated prospect. He’s smart, skates well and can play all 200 feet. He can maintain possession and sees the ice with precision.

3. Ryan Verrier, Salisbury, Sr., D, Shoots Left, 11/19/98, 5-11/175 (UNH) – His best asset is his feet. He’s very nimble on the blue line and can be a one-man breakout. His stick and vision are also key parts of his game. He’s not the flashy type, but he is a smooth skater who can move the puck north with the puck on his stick or by passing it to open forwards. He gets shots on net from the point. His weakness is he’s a high risk, high reward type of player. Once he learns to pick his spots more wisely, he could be a good puck-moving defenseman in the USHL. He’s a player that could slot right into a second or third defensive pairing for next season on the right team.

4. Marshall Rifai, Hotchkiss, Sr., D, Shoots Left, 3/16/98, 5-11/160 (Harvard) – The Quebec native is a wildcard here. Whether he goes to college in the fall or plays a year of junior is not known. His skating and puck-moving abilities are second to none. His hockey IQ and ability to defend in his own are in question. He played some forward for Mike Traggio’s team down the stretch. He’d have to be used in the right position in the USHL. If a team was looking for a fifth or sixth defender to be used primarily in a puck-carrying and power play role, he’d be a good fit.

5. Alex DiPaolo, Salisbury, Jr., C, Shoots Left, 4/28/00, 6-0/175 (UMass) – He’s a recent commit to Greg Carvel’s program. An Ontario native, he’s a former sixth round pick in the OHL Draft. He plays the game the right way and pays attention to the finer details. He’s not a player organizations will select for his offensive upside. He’s a player who wins face-offs, has high hockey IQ and plays all 200 feet. There is some offensive upside, but as of right now, he’s a player who could potentially slide into a center on a checking line.

6. Peter DiLiberatore, Salisbury, Jr., D, Shoots Left, 3/31/00, 5-11/155 (Quinnipiac) - He’s a mobile, offensive-minded defenseman who skates well. He gets pucks on net from the point, can break it out of his own zone and start the transition. He has a good stick, but his play in his own zone is still a work in progress.

7. Mike Lombardi, Kimball Union, Sr., LW, Shoots Left, 8/20/98, 6-0/180 (Quinnipiac) – Similarly to DiPaolo, he’s not the most offensively gifted player, but he plays hard, gets on pucks quickly and competes each shift. He doesn’t have great hands, but he’s going to make an impact each shift. He’s a reliable two-way forward who can kill penalties, generate energy and score dirty goals around the net. His forechecking ability is that of the typical Quinnipiac recruit

8. Michael Kesselring, New Hampton, Jr., D, Shoots Right, 1/14/00, 6-2/155 (Merrimack) – For his size, he has very good mobility. He’s a player who should be intriguing to all USHL organizations. He plays for his father Casey, a former Merrimack standout, in prep school. He’s athletic, has a good stick and could develop into a legit defender in the USHL, if given the right situations. This would be a pick to make for a team looking to add depth to the affiliate list and call him up for a few weekends.

9. Jackson Pierson, Culver, Jr., C, Shoots Left, 9/10/99, 5-10/170 (UNH) – The recent Wildcat commit is a smaller forward with really good vision. He exudes patience and confidence with the puck. He’s not afraid to go to the net and get in the dirty areas. He can create offense in transition and has good speed.

10. Santeri Hartikainen, Groton, Jr., C, Shoots Right, 1/5/99, 6-1/185 – His inconsistency frustrated some observers this past winter, but there were games where he shined. He’s creative and has a good stride. His speed isn’t elite, but he can make plays. He thinks the game well and can be a third line center who can chip in offensively.

11. Kaden Pickering, Northwood, Sr., C/RW, Shoots Right, 12/17/98, 5-10/185 (St. Lawrence) – His skating and speed are his best assets. He can gain time and space because of it, but needs to continue thinking the game better in order to be an offensive threat as he moves up the ladder.

12. Austin Magera, Lawrence Academy, Sr., C, Shoots Left, 7/19/98, 6-1/170 (Sacred Heart) – Despite struggling some in his senior year of prep hockey, he has good speed and can add a little bit of offensive touch. What he lacks in terms of upside, he makes up for in value. He’s graduating and will play a year of junior hockey before heading to SHU.

13. Bryce Dolan, Kimball Union, Jr., D, Shoots Right, 2/13/00, 6-0/195 (Holy Cross) – He’s a steady, reliable blue liner that is an absolute steal for Dave Berard’s program. He played great in KUA’s run to the Elite 8 Tournament Championship. He has a good stick, retrieves pucks, breaks pucks out and has good gaps. Going forward, his offensive upside is minimal, but he could be a rock as a fourth or fifth defenseman.

14. Hunter McCoy, Exeter, Soph., C, Shoots Left, 8/1/00, 5-11/165 – He’s a player with an explosive stride and hockey sense. The puck goes through him when he’s on the ice. He’s a facilitator. His shot could use improvement, but he’s a good passer and makes players around him better. He plays with an edge. He’ll be playing prep hockey elsewhere next winter, but would be a nice add for an affiliate list.

15. Jagger Benson, Malden Catholic, Soph., D, Shoots Right, 10/23/00, 6-0/160 – He’s the only MIAA skater to make the list. He’s a tall, lanky prospect who is still filling out into his frame, but he comes from good genes and has the natural athletic ability. His skating and prowess moving the puck up ice are excellent. If he can bulk up and learn to play a more well rounded game in his own end, he’s a Division I player down the road. He’s a player to select if looking for a good 2000-born defenseman on the affiliate list. He’s still a year or two away from making an impact in junior hockey.

16. Mike Hardman, Winchendon, Jr., LW, Shoots Left, 2/5/99, 6-3/190 (Union) – He had a big growth spurt and really came into his own over the past year which earned him a Division I commitment. He’s a player who goes into the corners and below the dots and wins pucks for his linemates

17. Josh Chapman, Albany Academy, PG, RW, Shoots Right, 4/5/98, 6-1/175 (Army) – On his split-season midget team, Neponset Valley River Rats, he was the best player at times. He’s got good size and can get up and down the wing. He has a good shot and can score. He’s a nice get for Brian Riley’s staff.

18. Matt Pasquale, Central Catholic, Soph., G, Catches Left, 10/6/00, 6-1/150 – He combines good size and athleticism. He moves well in the crease, has good post-to-post explosiveness and is fundamentally sound. He has a tendency to let in soft goals, but he’s the second best uncommitted goaltending in New England, only behind ’02 Gavin Fitzpatrick of BB&N.

19. Phip Waugh, Trinity-Pawling, Soph., D, Shoots Left, 1/10/00, 6-4/210 – He’s a big, raw defender from Virginia who just finished his first season of prep hockey. He’s athletic and mobile for his size, but needs to work on his skating. There is a lot of potential and several Hockey East teams are interested.

20. Liam Gorman, St. Sebastian’s, Soph., C, Shoots Left, 5/8/00, 6-1/174 – He plays a heavy game in prep, winning face-offs, going to the dirty areas, winning battles and impacting the net front. He can throw his weight around some.

21. Matt Slick, Proctor, Sr., D, Shoots Left, 3/13/99, 6-2/200 – He’s a strong, rugged blue liner who plays with high compete level. He grinds in the corners and going back for retrievals. A Texas native, he’s starting to gain some Hockey East interest and he has had Atlantic Hockey interest for a bit. He’d be a nice pickup for a team looking for a physical fifth or sixth defenseman.

22. Matt Holmes, Salisbury, Sr., C, Shoots Left, 2/22/99, 6-2/200 – He’s a player that really looks the part, but he doesn’t score as often as he should. He had a really good end to the prep regular season. He gets out of the gates quickly and has a good stride with good size. He has a good shot when he can get it off.

23. Roope Hirvonen, Kimball Union, Sr., RW, Shoots Right, 11/18/98, 5-11/185 – He’s not the best skater, but he has a knack for the puck and scores. He’s probably fit for the BCHL, AJHL, CCHL or NAHL, but a late pick to bring him into camp wouldn’t be the worst idea for a USHL organization

24. Kyle Koopman, Berkshire, Sr., D, Shoots Left, 5/1/98, 5-10/170 (Providence) – He’s a good skating defenseman who serves as captain of his prep team alongside his twin brother, Matt, also a Friar commit. His brother is on Waterloo’s affiliate list.

25. Aidan Porter, Rivers, Jr., G, Catches Left, 5/18/99, 6-2/170 (Princeton) – He benefited from a really good defense in front of him for the prep level, but he stopped pucks all year and earned a commitment because of it. He has good size. He has a good glove and moves fairly well in the crease.

26. Ryan Doolin, Westminster, Jr., C, Shoots Right, 2/6/99, 6-3/200 (Harvard) – He’s still growing into his frame, but he could develop into a power forward. He has a strong stride, but still needs to learn to play away from the perimeter. The potential is there, but he hasn’t hit his stride yet.

27. Sean Thomson, Kimball Union, Sr., D, Shoots Right, 4/30/98, 6-1/200 – He’s a big, rugged defender that can be physical and shut down opposing forwards. He has an OK stick. If his skating were better, he’d be ranked higher.

28. James Davenport, St. Sebastian’s, Soph., D, Shoots Right, 8/3/00, 5-11/160 (Brown) – He's a good skater who sees the ice well offensively from the back end. He retrieves pucks, can break the puck out with passing and skating and moves it up in transition. He has good vision, but hasn't been quite good enough in his own zone during the prep season.

29. Christian LeSueur, Brunswick, Jr., RW, Shoots Right, 1/7/99, 5-10/175 (Dartmouth) – He’s got a really good shot and thinks the game well offensively, but his skating still needs work. He was previously drafted by Sioux City.

30. Joey Musa, Trinity-Pawling, Soph., C, Shoots Left, 5/11/00, 5-8/150 (Dartmouth) – He’s small, but he’s quick and has extremely good vision. He thinks the game well and creates chances in the offensive zone. He’s lower on these rankings as he’s still a few years away and the BCHL might be the best junior league for him when he graduates from prep.

31. Ian Murphy, Dexter, Jr., RW, Shoots Right, 4/6/99, 5-11/175 – He has Division I speed and skating ability. There is no doubt about it. There have been showcases and high school games in the past where he's really caught the eye of coaches. However, he needs to continue to prove he can play at a high level against better competition. He's gotten better as the season has gone along.

32. Jack Hoey, Choate, Jr., C, Shoots Right, 11/3/98, 6-0/195 (Colgate) – He’s not likely to leave prep until after he graduates, but he’s strong on his skates and has a good shot. He has a knack for scoring garbage goals and fights in and around the dirty areas.

33. Kyle Jadatz, Exeter, Jr., C, Shoots Right, 6/3/99, 5-11/170 – He's a rugged, physical two-way forward who skates well enough to compete at the Division I level. His offensive skill set isn't strong enough to be a top six guy going forward, but he could be a nice add as a reliable and solid center with a good stick who competes in all three zones.

34. Sean Brown, Central Catholic, Soph., RW, Shoots Right, 11/22/00, 5-11/170 – He has good hands and a good first step. He’s not afraid to go into the dirty areas, throw his weight around or block shots. The concern is that he didn’t put up more gaudy numbers in a weak year of high school hockey in Massachusetts.

35. Devon Tongue, Northfield Mount Hermon, Soph., C, Shoots Left, 12/31/99, 6-2/185 – He's strong on his skates and sees the ice well offensively. He seems to be one step ahead of the puck and always is in position to be involved in the play. In limited viewings this season, the opinion that he could progress remains the same, but he needs to prove more yet.

36. Thomas Gale, Deerfield, Soph., G, Catches Left, 6/10/00, 6-0/180 - He gained a lot of interest following the Flood-Marr Tournament where he led his team to the title. The Kirkland, Quebec native has good reflexes, tracks pucks well and is a smooth skater in the crease.

37. Will Winship, Central Catholic, Soph., RW, Shoots Right, 10/25/00, 6-3/195 – He’s still growing into his frame as a late ’00, but he had a good year in high school hockey. Obviously his size is what intrigues observers the most. He does a good job protecting the puck and distributing it from down low and in the corners. His hands and skating are just average, but there is potential

38. Patrick Dawson, Westminster, Jr., D, Shoots Left, 1/14/99, 6-1/185 (Sacred Heart) - He's a little heavy on his feet, but he has a good stick, good vision and can play physically. He had a good showing in a few of the games at the Flood-Marr Tournament. He takes away passing lanes, has good gaps and does a good job defending with his stick.

39. Cedric Andree, Gunnery, Jr., G, Catches Left, 6/7/00, 5-10/155 - He's a little undersized, but he moves well and is an athletic goalie who can make game-changing saves. The Orleans, Ontario native is a dual-citizen of Canada and Netherlands. He had a good showing at the Beantown Spring in front of several USHL scouts. He could be worth a late pick as a goalie to stash on the affiliate list. The Ottawa 67s picked him in the 12th round of the 2016 OHL Draft.

40. Sam Hesler, Belmont Hill, Sr., LW/C, Shoots Left, 6/6/98, 5-10/175 (Dartmouth) – His speed is his best asset. He’s small, but he can score and possess the puck. He might be heading to the Big Green in the fall.

41. Chris Brown, Groton, Jr., Shoots Right, RW, 3/27/99, 6-1/185 – He’s a fringe Division I or NESCAC type prospect. He is a decent playmaker who might be worth a late, late pick.

42. Peter Horsfall, Westminster, Sr., D, Shoots Right, 2/19/98, 6-3/220 – He has good size, gets in shooting and passing lanes and has an active stick in the defensive zone.

43. Michael Holland, Deerfield, Soph., C, Shoots Left, 11/23/99, 6-0/180 - He has some offensive upside, but he's a complete player who likes to throw his weight around. He creates turnovers and is heavy on pucks. He has a good shot and isn't afraid to go into areas where he can gets shots off. He's not a player that will wow observers with his hands or feet, but he has some potential as a bottom six guy. He’s probably not worth a pick since he is still a few years away from playing junior hockey.

44. Vilho Saariuoma, Cushing, Jr., LW, Shoots Left, 7/14/99, 6-3/190 – While he hasn't been as dominant at the prep level as he could be with his size and physical tools, he still has shown the potential that intrigues some college coaches. At least two Hockey East schools are tracking his development. He's big and can come off the wall strong with the puck. He's a power forward, but he needs to show more than he has this season.

45. Tim Kent, Lawrence Academy, Jr., RW, Shoots Right, 8/4/99, 5-6/160 – He's a small, crafty winger who plays somewhat of a similar game to Maine senior and former Boston Advantage forward Cam Brown. He has a short but quick stride and provides a ton of energy each shift. He's not afraid to play in the dirty areas, despite his lack of size.

46. Jack Nisbet, Dexter, Jr., C/RW, Shoots Right, 3/3/99, 5-11/175 – His vision and passing ability are his strengths. He doesn't quite have the pace yet to earn a commitment, but if he continues to work on his skating, he thinks the game well enough to catch the attention of some coaches.

Prep/Mass. HS Players on Affiliate Lists:

Bloomington Thunder:

Skyler Brind’Amour, ’99, F, Selects Academy (Michigan State), Michael Callahan, ’99, D, Roxbury Latin (Providence), Jerry Harding, ’99, F, Nobles (Providence), Hunter Brackett, ’00, F, Tabor, Drew Elser, ’00, F, Avon Old Farms (UConn), Tommy Lyons, ’00, F, St. Sebastian’s (Brown), Patrick Keegan, ’00, D, Cushing (Wisconsin)

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders:

Jason Dobay, ’99, D, Thayer (UMass), Aidan McDonough, ’99, F, Thayer (Northeastern), Matt Demelis, ’99, F, Boston Advantage (Northeastern), P.J. Garrett, ’00, D, Thayer, Harry Roy, ’00, F, Loomis Chaffee (Maine), Jordan Tonelli, ’00, F, Taft (Brown)

Chicago Steel:

Chris Garbe, ’99, F, Selects Academy (Brown), Jackson MacNab, ’98, F, Culver (Notre Dame)

Des Moines Buccaneers:

Casey Carreau, ’99, F, Thayer (BC), Ryan O’Connell, ’99, D, St. Andrew’s (BU), Tony Andreozzi, ’00, D, Rivers (Brown)

Dubuque Fighting Saints:

Brendan White, ’98, F, Williston-Northampton, Nick Hale, ’99, D, Salisbury (Holy Cross), Ben Thomas, ’99, F, Winchendon (Union), Tyce Thompson, ’99, F, Salisbury (Providence), Noah Kim, ’00, D, Cushing

Fargo Force:

Connor Hutchison, ’00, D, Selects Academy (Vermont)

Green Bay Gamblers:

Lincoln Stars:

Wyatt Schlaht, ’00, F, St. Sebastian’s

Madison Capitols:

Kevin Wall, ’00, F, Salisbury

Muskegon Lumberjacks:

John Mulera, ’99, F, Winchendon (Providence), Ryan Stevens, ’00, F, Nobles, Connor Sweeney, ’00, F, Pingree (UNH)

Omaha Lancers:

Christian O’Neill, ’98, F, Belmont Hill (Princeton), Aleksi Peltonen, ’98, F, Northwood (Wisconsin), Ben Pirko, ’99, D, Avon Old Farms (Union), Anthony Mastromonica, ’00, F, Selects Academy

Sioux City Musketeers:

Morgan Barron, ’98, F, St. Andrew’s College (BC), Matthew Fawcett, ’99, F, Winchendon (Union), Jack Babbage, ’00, D, Avon Old Farms, Drew Bavaro, ’00, D, Lawrence Academy, Jacques Bouquot, ’00, F, Salisbury (BC)

Sioux Falls Stampede:

Ethan Kimball, ’99, F, St. Mark’s, Riley Prattson, ’99, F, Selects Academy (Providence), Riley Hughes, ’00, F, St. Sebastian’s, John Murray, ’00, D, Nobles, Mac Wiseman, ’00, D, Avon Old Farms (UConn)

Tri-City Storm:

Nathan Clurman, ’98, D, Culver (Notre Dame), Sean Keohan, ’99, D, Dexter (Dartmouth), Joey Cipollone, ’99, F, Loomis Chaffee (Vermont), Logan Cash, ’00, F, Kimball Union, Connor Hopkins, ’00, G, Belmont Hill (Yale)

Waterloo Black Hawks:

Matt Koopman, ’98, F, Berkshire (Providence), Connor Caponi, ’00, F, Culver (Yale)

Youngstown Phantoms:

Jack Rathbone, ’99, D, Dexter (Harvard), Craig Needham, ’99, F, Lawrence Academy (Maine), Jay O’Brien, ’99, F, Dexter (Providence), Jordan Harris, ’00, D, Kimball Union (Northeastern), Cameron Hillis, ’00, F, St. Andrew’s (Providence), Tommy Kramer, ’00, F, BC High, Jack Malone, ’00, F, Delbarton (Cornell), Jalen Kaplan, ’00, F, Delbarton, Tristan Amonte, ’00, F, Thayer