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Is Union Defenseman and Philadelphia Flyers Prospect Shayne Gostisbehere the Best Player in the Country?

Shayne Gostisbehere was described as the best player in the country by the head coach of his team's biggest rival.

Shayne Gostisbehere, left, in action against RPI on Friday night at Messa Rink. The Dutchmen won 4-3 over their archrivals from Troy.
Shayne Gostisbehere, left, in action against RPI on Friday night at Messa Rink. The Dutchmen won 4-3 over their archrivals from Troy.
Courtesy Photo: Union Athletics

Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has accomplished a lot in his young hockey career. The junior from Margate, Fla. has already won a Gold Medal with his American teammates at the 2013 World Junior Championships, and has seen his college team win ECAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships, and advance to the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four.

He has also racked up plenty of individual honors, such as ECAC All-Rookie Team as a freshman and Second Team All-American and Second Team All-ECAC as a sophomore.

Gostisbehere has a lot to look forward to in his hockey career. The South Kent (CT) alum is on a very good Union team that just dismantled archrival RPI over the weekend. He had two assists in Friday's 4-3 home win and two goals in Saturday's 4-1 road victory. The Dutchmen have now defeated their archrivals from 15 minutes east ten consecutive times.

There is a future for Gostisbehere after his time in Schenectady as well. The Philadelphia Flyers thought highly enough of the blue liner to select him in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft.

But just how good is he? RPI coach Seth Appert knows all too well how talented Gostisbehere is. "Shayne Gostisbehere is the best player in the country. We've played a pretty good schedule. We've played [Boston College forward and Calgary Flames prospect] Johnny Gaudreau. It's no slight to him. Johnny Gaudreau is a heck of a hockey player, but Gostisbehere is the best player we've seen."

"Everything. He's fast, tenacious, tough. He's fantastic. He was just outstanding," said Appert when asked what it was he liked about his opposition's star blue liner. "He was special this weekend," added the eighth year head coach.

Gostisbehere's knowledge of the game and the situation really stands out after watching him play closely for an entire weekend. His physical tools are obvious, but his poise with the puck and vision really are prevalent. He's always got his head up, and looking for the next play when he receives the puck. It's as if he knows where everyone on his team and everyone on the opposition is at all times.

The junior is an alternate captain for Rick Bennett's team that re-entered the Division I Poll this week at 17. The Dutchmen are 6-3-2, but are 5-1-1 in their last seven. Hearing him speak in the post-game and seeing his actions on the ice also make it obvious that this a player with leadership qualities.

Gostisbehere has unfinished business at the collegiate level, but the Philadelphia Flyers have a very promising prospect who will one day make an impact in the lineup at the NHL level.

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Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.