USA Hockey released the roster of players that will tryout for next year's U-17 team. It's a good first look at the players that will shape college hockey's recruiting landscape over the coming years.
I've seen about a third to half the players on the list and figured I'd give a quick rundown on what those players bring to the table. The other guys get a *shrug* which basically means, "Obviously they're very talented to make it to this point, but I can't say much beyond that because I haven't seen them."
Matthew Tkachuk(Notre Dame commit)-Super-skilled offensive player. Some of the best hockey sense I've seen at that age. There's some room to improve his skating, but he always gets to the right spot to make a play.
Dennis Yan-A pretty big coup for USA Hockey to get him to show up at camp. Pretty much an offense-only player at this point, but he can take over a game with absolutely electric offensive skill. Was a top scorer in a really tough U18 league this year.
Jordan Greenway-He's always been a little tough to judge because he was so huge(6'5") at such a young age. But he's got pretty good hands for his size, and if he continues to develop at the rate of his peers, he could be an excellent player. Reportedly already has a spot on the team.
Christian Fischer(Notre Dame commit)-Another potential power forward(always a plus when you're taking a team of 16 year old into the USHL). Plays the game hard both offensively and defensively. Reportedly has a spot on the team.
Tom Novak-Really good hands and a nice shot. A very dangerous scoring threat. If he skated as hard out of his own zone on the backcheck as he does to get away from his teammates for one of his look-at-me goal celebrations, he'd really be a player.
Tarek Baker-Really improved a lot during the year. He went from being a player I didn't even consider for this at the beginning of the year, to being a must-have player by mid-year. Very fast, good hands, and always strong on the puck.
Robby Jackson-Just a smooth, all-around player. Good skating, good hands, and surprisingly responsible in his own end for a player with the offensive capabilities that he has.
Ethan Price-A strong kid. Not a ton of offensive upside, but he'll be a very tough two-way forward to play against.
Luke Kunin-Not the biggest forward, but can really snipe the puck. Playing in the USHL next year feels like a stretch, but with time to fill out, he could be a really nice prospect.
Tanner Tweten-Tweten is a big kid that would provide some net presence and bring a physical style of play.
Luke Henderson-Another big body that can chip in offensively. Skating might be an issue, but if that improves, he'll be a very nice player.
Austin Matthews-Not flashy, but a solid all-around player with decent size, and appears to have some upside.
Aaron O'Neill- Beautiful skater. Probably a little raw to get serious consideration out of this group, but if his hands catch up to his feet, he'll be an excellent prospect.
Of note from *shrug* group:
Brendan Warren is a Michigan commit. Gordie Green is a Miami commit. Colin White is a Boston College commit. Bren Gates is a Notre Dame commit. Carson Gicewicz is a St. Lawrence commit. Nolan Aibel is a Yale commit. Luke Kirwan played Tier III Jr. A in the EJHL last year, and is supposed to be a pretty big prospect.
Zach Werenski- One of the most impressive prospects I've seen in years.Still doubt the OHL lets him get away from their clutches, but a positive sign that he's at least going to this camp.
Christian Evers(North Dakota commit)-A little more raw than some of the other big names but the fact that he doesn't get more hype shows just how good this group of defenseman are. Big with loads of upside. Really like how he took over a leadership role with his Omaha team this year.
Vasili Kolias- A super quick puck mover that can also play with a little bit of physicality.
Michael Davies-Size is a bit of an issue, but he's about as reliable as they come.
Caleb Jones-Some obvious family history with the NTDP. Quite raw right now, but perhaps worth taking the risk that he can really blossom under the NTDP's guidance.
Tye Ausmus-Another kid with a good family track record at the NTDP. Not flashy, but moves the puck quickly and effectively.
Nick Heid-Lots of upside, but incredibly inconsistent right now. Can look flat-footed and slow while giving up a bad goal and score on a beautiful end-to-end rush in the same shift.
Ben Newhouse-Smaller defenseman. Good skating and decision-making. A safe pick, but upside seems fairly low.
Of note from the *shrug* group:
Noah Hanifin is committed to Boston College and is supposed to be as good or better than Werenski. Nick Boka is committed to Michigan State. Casey Fitzgerald is committed to Boston College. Troy Henley played this past season in Ontario and has a pretty big reputation. Overall, it seems like a pretty high-end group if they get all those big names onto the ice next year.
The only two out of this group I've seen are Kris Carlson and Luke Opilka.Carlson is very quick, and positionally, seems pretty sound. Opilka is a bigger goalie that uses his size and positioning pretty well.
A few players very likely would have been selected, but are already committed elsewhere for next season. Tory Dello(Notre Dame commit), Cam Askew(BU commit), Chaz Switzer, and Ryan Moore all signed tenders in the USHL for next year. LA Jr. Kings D Keoni Teixeira and Omaha D Tyler Browne also likely would have been invites, but have already signed contracts in the WHL.
Really, I can't think of any names I'm banging my shoe on the table over not being selected. I really liked Burnsville's Brock Boeser at the end of the year and thought he might get a look. Wayzata back-up goalie Vaughn Ahrens didn't play much during the high school season, but I thought an excellent Select 15 camp and strong showing when called up to the main Elite League this fall might carry him. Overall, a very good list put together by USA Hockey after two years of scouting this group.