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2018 NHL Draft Watch List: New England Prep Hockey

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Yale vs. North Jersey Avalanche in 18U action at the 2017 Neponset Valley River Rats Jamboree

The 2017-18 hockey season is upon us after the unofficial kickoff in New England with the eighth annual Neponset Valley River Rats Jamboree.

Similarly to last season, there doesn’t appear to be any prep hockey prospects worthy of a top two round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. However, there are a handful of players who could be selected in rounds three through seven.

Thayer Academy center Jay O’Brien, a Providence commit, is likely to be the first prep player to hear his name called at the 2018 NHL Draft. A late ‘99, he doesn’t have pro size, but he plays bigger than his frame would suggest.

Teammate and fellow late ‘99 Aidan McDonough, a Northeastern recruit, is another top prospect out of prep hockey. Another Husky commit, Kimball Union defenseman Jordan Harris, could also be selected.

Jacques Bouquot (Salisbury), Peter DiLiberatore (Salisbury), Liam Gorman (St. Sebastian’s), Riley Hughes (St. Sebastian’s), Michael Kesselring (New Hampton), Anthony Mastromonica (Selects Academy at South Kent), Owen Nolan (Milbrook), Wyatt Schlaht (St. Sebastian’s), Kevin Wall (Salisbury) and Phillip Waugh (Trinity-Pawling) are others NHL scouts might be keeping an eye on this winter.

2018 NHL Draft Prospects - NE Prep/HS

Player DOB Pos. S/C Ht/Wt Team Hometown NCAA Commit Strengths Weaknesses NHL Draft Grade (Round) 2017 USA Hockey Select 17 Camp 2017-18 Viewing #1
Player DOB Pos. S/C Ht/Wt Team Hometown NCAA Commit Strengths Weaknesses NHL Draft Grade (Round) 2017 USA Hockey Select 17 Camp 2017-18 Viewing #1
O'Brien, Jay 11/4/99 C R 5-11/180 Thayer Hingham, Mass. Providence Shot, explosive skater, sees ice well, finds seams in opposing D Size 4 N/A NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): O'Brien skates well enough and has a good enough shot to make up for not having the biggest frame. He made a nice cut up the middle, cut to the right upon zone entry and found his LW at the far post for a great scoring chance. He did a good job finding seams in the opposing defense and getting shots off. On more than one occasion he started the transition by jumping on a puck in his own zone.
McDonough, Aidan 11/6/99 LW L 6-2/180 Thayer Milton, Mass. Northeastern Size, play below dots, drive to net First step, lacks physicality necessary to be legit power forward 4-5 N/A NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): McDonough's size, net drive and nose for the puck all stood out here. His skating isn't the prettiest and he still needs to work on getting out of the gates a little quicker, but that part of his game has improved. He made a strong move to the net before finishing it with finesse, tucking home a backhander after a quick stickhandle. He scored another goal by going to the post and banging home a rebound after a defenseman had carried the puck end-to-end.
Harris, Jordan 7/7/00 D L 5-11/180 Kimball Union Haverhill, Mass. Northeastern Skating ability, feet, gaps, retrievals, breakout passes, shot from point Size 6-7 6/28-30: Harris was very impressive during the final three days of camp. His footwork was notable, allowing him to pivot quickly up ice and walk the blue line in the attacking zone. He was really good in Thursday's game against Grey. He made great outlet passes and was just a breakout machine. His gaps were really strong. He has the hands and puck skills necessary, making a really good sauce pass to keep a play alive. His stick forced a puck out of the zone on the penalty kill. During the All-Star game, he showed his retrieval and breakout ability. NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): Harris helped his stock tremendously here. His skating, gaps and stick were all impressive. He did a good job retrieving pucks and quickly breaking it out of his own zone. He scored a goal and assisted on another with a good shot on net from the point that was tipped. His footwork allows him to sidestep oncoming forecheckers in his own zone as well as walking the blue line effectively in the attacking zone.
Waugh, Phillip 1/10/00 D L 6-4/210 Trinity-Pawling McLean, Va. Size, physical toughness, mobility, potential Raw, decision-making, puck skills 7 N/A NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): He didn't play in his team's last game against the Eagles, but his first two games were a microcosm of his usual play. He struggled in his first game against the River Rats, but looked much better against PAL. He made a few nice hits, played with a mean streak and had good reach and closing in the defensive zone. His mobility is good for his size and he joined the rush which he typically does. His puck skills here were inconsistent.
DiLiberatore, Peter 3/31/00 D L 5-11/148 Salisbury Bedford, Nova Scotia Quinnipiac Mobility, feet, shots from point, vision in transition, power play quarterback Defensive zone play/positioning, gaps, lacks 'pro' size - N/A NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): DiLiberatore showed satisfactory physical tools and puck skills, but failed to exhibit the ability to play effectively in his own zone. He was on the ice for three goals against in both games against North Jersey Avs and Cape Cod Whalers. In both of those games, a turnover led directly to an opposition goal. His poise and confidence with the puck on his stick are notable. He has good vision, making good breakout passes and quarterbacking the power play. He made a great outlet pass from deep in his own zone to the far blue line for a transitional chance. He joined the rush effectively on his team's fourth goal against North Jersey Avs.
Gorman, Liam 5/8/00 C L 6-3/190 St. Sebastian's Arlington, Mass. Size, explosive, drive to net, can grind inconsistent, lacks hockey IQ to finish/make plays consistently - 6/28-29: Gorman was largely unnoticeable here. He drove to the net a time or two with the puck, but wasn't able to finish. Against faster competition, he wasn't able to show his strength and power. NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): Gorman scored a nice goal during an early shift against PAL. He drove the net hard and got off a hard, strong backhander to beat the goalie. When he turns it on, he has power to his game. His stride has an explosiveness. He has more upside because of his ability to grind it out and be a bottom six guy. What's frustrating is he shows flashes so it'd be nice to see him use his size, strength and skating ability to be more of a consistent factor offensively.
Wall, Kevin 2/1/00 RW R 6-0/185 Salisbury Fairport, N.Y. Drives net, strong on pucks, good shot Lacks hockey sense to score on more consistent basis - 6/28-29: The two days here were indicitave of his inconsistent offensive play. He rushed with the puck and couldn't slow the game down or think it quick enough one day. He made a few nice passes from the corner and down low the other day. He can bang around and shows flashes of ability to play a strong north-south game. NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): Wall is another player who lacks consistency, but he had two good days here. He fought to get a loose puck on a rebound in front for a goal vs. North Jersey. He has a quick release and drives the net. He can stop and start and has decent agility, but doesn't have blazing speed. He did win a battle for a loose puck and separate for an empty net goal Monday. He scored another goal Tuesday coming down the RW and unleashing a slap shot.
Hughes, Riley 6/27/00 RW R 6-2/177 St. Sebastian's Westwood, Mass. Vision, passing, skating, size perimeter game, inconsistent - 6/28-30: This was one of the more impressive viewings of Hughes to date. On Wednesday vs. Black, he made a good pass to spring a linemate for a chance. He had a really good shift on Thursday, keeping a play alive with a pass before getting off a good shot when he got the puck back. He made a couple of other nice passes that day. He has a quick release and can fire pucks, but most of his opportunities came from the outside or too high up in the attacking zone. He didn't do much in the All-Star game. NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): This event did little to change Hughes' stock. He has good size and skates well enough. He has a good shot when he gets it off and his vision in the attacking zone is notable. However, he keeps to the perimeter far too often and is inconsistent in terms of making an impact from shift to shift.
Bouquot, Jacques 2/10/00 C L 6-1/165 Salisbury South Windsor, Conn. Boston College Strong north-south player, wins battles down low/along boards, facilitates pucks Doesn't use size and strength to advantage on a consistent enough basis - NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): Bouquot is a center who was able to facilitate movement of the puck during the two days. He set up on the wall a lot. A shot from the RW wall led to a rebound goal for a teammate against North Jersey. Later in the same game, he scored coming off the LW wall. His skating isn't elite, but it gets the job done. He gets to pucks. is quick in on the forecheck and is effective retrieiving pucks. Consistent on past views, Bouquot's physical tools were notable, but he didn't make a consistent enough of an impact.
Kesselring, Michael 1/13/00 D R New Hampton New Hampton, N.H. Merrimack Size, mobility for size, reach Needs to pick spots more wisely, be more reliable in own zone - 6/28-29: Kesselring's physical tools were evident, but didn't stand out against more elite competition. His reach and length as well as his skating ability for his size are all notable. He has a mean streak and made a point to play with an edge here. He ran around too much, was caught flat-footed and needed to pick his spots more wisely. NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): In limited viewing during the first half of one game Tuesday afternoon, Kesselring made a few nice plays getting into shooting and passing lanes in the defensive zone. He skates well for his size.
Schlaht, Wyatt 6/4/00 LW L 6-2/175 St. Sebastian's Wellesley, Mass. Size, strong north-south winger Staying healthy, finding score sheet consistently - 6/28-29: This was a fairly good showing for Schlaht. His skill set limits him to just moving up and down the wing and playing a solid north-south game. He can move up and down the wing. On Wednesday, he sent a nice tape-to-tape pass that led to a tip-home goal for a teammate. He drove the far post for a rebound goal Thursday. He also beat one of the better opposing defenders wide on another scoring chance. NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): Schlaht wasn't notable in game action here.
Mastromonica, Anthony 5/23/00 LW L 6-2/230 Selects Academy 18U Kings Park, N.Y. Size lacks offensive upside - 6/28-29: Mastromonica's size and willingness to get in on the forecheck and disrupt breakouts with his size and energy was intriguing. His skating limitations and hockey sense were negatives. His size and the fact he's somewhat raw are two reasons to give him a few more looks.
Nolan, Owen 3/10/00 D L 6-1/165 Millbrook Mahopac, N.Y. 6/28-29: Nolan showed confidence with the puck and an ability to read plays well. His gaps were only decent and he didn't stand out against the competition here. He sometimes gets caught out of position because of chasing plays in his own zone. NVRR Jamboree (8/28-29): Nolan's game has progressed quite a bit over the past 18 months. He's added size and strength. His skating has become more fluid and powerful. He makes good breakout passes and has a good stick. He has a tendency to try to force plays at times.