The roster for the NTDP Tryout/Evaluation Camp was released this afternoon. It's always an interesting look at who the top players are in the country. Overall, I think this is a pretty decent group. At certain points throughout the year, I felt like the '98 class wasn't all that good; certainly not up to par with the great '97 class of last year. But in looking through this list today, I think this has the potential to be a very good group if the NTDP can land all of the top kids. If a couple choose to go other routes, however, I think there's a pretty steep drop-off in talent, especially at forward. It will be exciting to see where all these players land in the coming months.
Here's a quick look at some of the participants in this year's camp.
Joey Anderson-Hill-Murray HS(Minnesota-Duluth)- Anderson is a super smooth offensive player. Great hands, and an above average shot. One of the most instinctive offensive players in the group.
Kieffer Bellows-Edina HS-The son of former NHLer Brian Bellows. Bellows is a big, strong power forward that mixes in some offensive skill with a nasty physical edge.
Logan Brown-Indiana Jr Ice-The son of former NHLer Jeff Brown. Brown is considered a top five prospect for the OHL Draft, but has reportedly been leaning towards playing for the NTDP.
Hank Crone-Dallas U16-Crone is a prototypical waterbug forward. Quick feet and quick hands, with great offensive instincts. Reminds me a bit of a another player of Texas in Cason Hohmann.
Grant Cruikshank-Milwaukee U16-Cruikshank is a small playmaker that has a lot of potential once he grows into his frame a little more.
Josh Dunne-St. Louis U16- Dunne is likely a long shot to make the team, but the big, lanky forward has a lot of upside once he fills out his big frame.
Trent Frederic-St. Louis Blues U16-Frederic is a big forward with really smooth hands, and has the potential to be a big-time goal-scorer.
Tim Gettinger-Cleveland U16- Gettinger is tough to peg because he doesn't play on a great team and he's basically their entire offense, which means he floats quite a bit looking for scoring opportunities. But he's 6'5" and while his skating is a bit choppy, he's got pretty good hands for a player of that size.
Keeghan Howdeshell-Compuware U16-Howdeshell is a big forward that plays a physical game.
Max Jones-Honeybaked U18-It was reported over the weekend that Jones had committed to play for the NTDP U17s next year, which is a huge get.for the program. His older brother plays in the OHL, and any OHL team would love to add him. Jones is a strong power forward that competes really hard and plays with a nasty mean streak.
Clayton Keller-Shattuck-St. Mary's(Boston University)-Keller is an effective player on both ends of the ice that has drawn comparisons to a young Zach Parise. He excelled on Shattuck-St. Mary's top Prep squad despite his age.
Patrick Khodorenko-Honeybaked U16-Khodorenko was a high WHL Bantam Draft pick last year, but has previously stated that he'd be interested in the NTDP if given the opportunity. Khodorenko is considered one of the best offensive talents in his age group, and would be a huge land for the program.
Willie Knieram-Chicago Mission U16-Knieram is a huge power forward that knows how to throw his weight around and has a good nose for the net.
Noah LaLonde-Honeybaked U16(Michigan State)-LaLonde is a responsible, two-way forward that is always in position and makes a lot of smart plays.
John Leonard-Sprinfield Catholic (UMass) - Undersized, but crafty play-making winger who can also find the back of the net. He has really good hands and sees the play develop well. His loaded Springfield Cathedral team plays in Massachusetts Super 8 semifinals on Thursday night at Tsongas Center.
William Lockwood-Oakland U16-Lockwood is a small playmaker that plays fearless hockey.
Mitchell Mattson-Grand Rapids HS-Mattson is a lanky kid with tremendous upside. He was effective as a high schooler this season, and once he fills out, has the potential to be extremely special.
Graham McPhee-Shattuck U16(Boston College)-McPhee has great hands and is a very strong, tough player. Definitely one of the elite talents on the list.
Dominic Mersch-Chicago Mission U16-The younger brother of Wisconsin forward and NTDP alum Michael Mersch, Dominic is a better skater than his older brother, but not quite as accomplished
Jacob Nielsen-Miwaukee U16-Nielsen is a good skater and shows nice offensive instincts. Probably a long shot to make the team, but a player worth watching.
Nick Pastujov-A very skilled offensive player, but reportedly leaning towards heading to the OHL next season.
James Sanchez-Chicago Young Americans U16(Michigan)-Sanchez is a solid two-way forward with nice hands that improved a lot as the season went on.
Riley Tufte-Blaine HS-Tufte stands in the 6'4" range and has the potential to be a dangerous offensive player. He needs to get a little stronger on his stick, but does a good job protecting the puck and uses his big reach effectively.
Garrett Wait-Edina HS-Wait is a very smart hockey player that comes up big in the most important moments of a game. He's got a ton of upside.
Zach Walker-Colorado Thunderbirds-Walker is an excellent skater that plays with a nice edge. He's not fun to play against because he really battles.
Kailer Yamamoto-LA Jr. Kings U16-Yamamoto is a smooth-skating center with really good hockey sense.
Not familiar with: Jamie Armstrong
12 Forwards I think might make the team: Anderson, Brown, Crone, Frederic, Jones, Keller, Khodorenko, LaLonde, McPhee, Mersch, Wait, Walker
Derek Daschke-Oakland U16- Daschke is a pure athlete. He plays big minutes and his skating allows him to roam all over the ice.
Mitch Eliot-Honeybaked U16(Michigan State)-Eliot was the top defenseman on the top U16 team in the country. He is a smart defender that really controls play on the ice.
Ty Farmer-St. Louis U16(Michigan State)-Farmer is a smaller defenseman, but one of the best skaters in this group. He's got great control on his edges and really quick feet which make him effective at moving the puck up the ice.
JD Greenway-Shattuck-St. Mary's-Like his older brother who already plays for the NTDP, Greenway is huge, and a pretty good skater for his size. He also plays with a nasty mean streak.
Matt Hellickson-Rogers HS-Hellickson is a very smart, confident puck-moving defenseman. He can make a smart, crisp pass from anywhere on the ice, and very rarely shows any panic.
Kenny Johnson-Shattuck U16-The younger brother of NHLer Jack Johnson, Kenny has some of the physical attributes Jack showed at a young age, but not quite the same aggressiveness that Jack played with.
Matt Kiersted-Elk River HS-One of the best offensive defensemen in this group. Kiersted needs to improve on the defensive end, but there are few D available that can put the puck in the net as well as he can.
Chad Krys- New Jersey Rockets U19- By most accounts, Krys is the best player in this age group. He has the potential to be the star of this team if he chooses to play for the NTDP.
Ryan Lindgren-Shattuck-St. Mary's(Minnesota)-Lindgren is a strong, powerful skater, and his above average hockey sense has made him one of the best players in his age group
Griffin Luce-Salisbury Prep(Michigan)-The son of Florida Panthers director of scouting Scott Luce, Luce has been a standout in the New England prep circuit this year, and considered a big-time talent.
Luke Martin-St. Louis Blues U16(Michigan)-Martin is still a little raw, but his big, athletic frame gives him as much upside as anyone in this group.
Luke McInnis- Smooth skating defenseman for a Hingham Harbormen team that underachieved this season, losing three key players early to prep school ranks. He is the son of former NHLer and BC alum Marty McInnis.
Sam Rossini-Burnsville HS-Rossini is a big defensive defenseman. His skating could stand to improve a little, but his ceiling is enormous.
Not familiar with: Brett Callahan, Michael Campoli, Cameron Dineen, Adam Fox, Alex Green, Andrew Peeke
7 defenseman I think might make the team: Eliot, Farmer, Greenway, Krys, Lindgren, Luce, Martin,
Goalies are mostly a crapshoot at this age. Ryan Edquist is committed to Minnesota, Joseph Woll is committed to Harvard. Jake Oettinger was selected in the WHL bantam draft last year.
Notable omissions. Any time a list like this comes out, there's always sure to be a few surprises. Here's a few names I thought might have been on there: Callan Foote, Mitch Lewandowski, Nick McKeeby, Ben Gleason, Alec Semandel, Anea Ferrario, Sam Huff, Dave Melaragni.