Youngstown Phantoms rookie Adam Ingram (SN #28) is the USHL’s top point-producing rookie. He has a seven-point lead over the next closest competitor. The West St. Paul, Manitoba native is committed to St. Cloud St. next season. In the pre-season, Ingram was identified as a “C” rated prospect and has moved up to No. 14 on Central Scouting’s most recent list, released in January. Ingram is the son of Olympic golf coach Derek.
Spent the weekend in Plymouth, Michigan keeping close tabs on the USNTDP U18 team. In its last three home games before leaving for the U18s in Germany, the program split a two-game set with Youngstown before dismantling Green Bay 10-1 on Sunday.
Know When to Hold’em
The Green Bay Gamblers have two highly thought-of prospects in Bridgewater, MA native Cameron Lund and Paradise, NL’s Ryan Greene. The two prospects play on the same line for head coach Pat Mikesch. Both are right shots, Greene is the centreman, Lund the right winger. Lund is ranked 37th, while Greene checks-in at No. 41 on Central’s list. By the way, there seems to be more right shot players available in this draft than I can remember from past drafts.
Interestingly, defenceman Lane Hutson is listed on the game sheet as 5-foot-9, 148 pounds, while NHL Central Scouting has him listed as 5-foot-8, 148 pounds. He’s No. 31 on Central’s rankings and for good reason. Over the three days I spent in the US, he is the player I came away most impressed with. He skates well, moves pucks, thinks it well, and is a catalyst on the power play.
It’s easy to make the argument that small defencemen aren’t effective come playoff time, but there is a case to be made that you need at least one of them to succeed in the regular season. This is a player I would take a chance on, although I can’t see a team going that small with their first-round pick.
Colleague and owner of The Pro Hockey Group, Jason Bukala, marveled at Hutson’s ability to think the game and his moxie in executing several high-risk plays.
Park that Winged Wheel
Frank Nazar III (SN #16) is another interesting study. From humble beginnings, his love of the game grew from his parents owning a parking garage located near the old Joe Louis arena in downtown Detroit.
I’m not sure any player has had a more steady rise to the top of the rankings than Cutter Gauthier (SN #12). Cutter was moved from centre on the second line, to playing left wing on a line with Logan Cooley (SN #4) at centre and Jimmy Snuggerud (SN #15) on the right.
Cooley is the real deal. In three weekend games he had two goals and an assist, but electrified every time he was out on the ice. He’s got amazing vision and creativity with quick feet and stick skills to execute plays many wouldn’t attempt. He was right when it got out that I had him ranked too low last month.
Give it up for….
Nice to see some former CHL players get their just due in USports. Mount Royal University’s Nolan Yaremko (TRI) was named Player of the Year. St. FX forward Liam Hawel (SOO, GUE, KIT) won Rookie of the Year, UNB’s Joe Gatenby (KEL, KAM) won the Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, Ryerson’s Kyle Bollers (SAG, OSH) was named the Randy Gregg Award winner for community service, while UBC’s Rylan Toth (RDR, SEA) won the Goalie of the Year Award. Ottawa U’s Nicolas Mattinen (LDN, HAM, OSH) was named Defenceman of the Year. Former Halifax assistant coach Chris Donnelly of Dalhousie was named Coach of the Year.
It’s never too early to start looking ahead to the 2023 NHL draft. With names such as Connor Bedard, Matvey Michkov, Adam Fantilli and Dalibor Dvorski already on the radar, the WHL is boasting that for the first time since the 1984-85 season six 16-year-old players have broken the 50-point threshold. Other than Bedard, Moose Jaw’s Brayden Yager is joined by Winnipeg’s Zack Benson, Prince George’s Riley Heidt, Vancouver’s Andrew Cristall and Regina’s Tanner Howe. Howe is a late birthday and is not eligible until the 2024 draft. The former six pack to achieve the feat included Theo Fleury, Rob Brown, Glen Wesley, Greg Hawgood, Mark Pederson, and Craig Endean.
Another big year for Charlottetown defenceman Noah Laaouan. The right shot defender was taken 14th overall in the 2017 QMJHL draft and has flourished ever since being moved from Cape Breton to Charlottetown during the 2018-19 season. Invited to Arizona’s camp, he wasn’t given a contract, but with a QMJHL Defenceman of the Year title in his bag of tricks, the fourth-leading defenceman scorer in the league likely deserves a look somewhere.
Carter Sandlak, son of Anaheim scout and long-time NHLer Jim, made his NHL officiating debut Tuesday, March 22 in Arizona for the Coyotes game versus the Seattle Kraken. Sandlak worked the game with former OHL official Kendrick Nicholson. The former Belleville Bull was able to gather a few pieces of memorabilia, including a stick from each team, signed by all the players. The officiating route has become increasingly popular for former junior and college players.
In trying to cultivate the growth and popularity in officiating, both the OHL and WHL have announced Officiating Prospect Development camps to help identify future officials.
Montreal rolls out the red carpet
It looks as if things are moving forward with the draft in Montreal. I’m anxious to see if Steve Mayer and his creative team come-up with any new wrinkles considering a live draft hasn’t been conducted since 2019 in Vancouver.
Why, Thank You
Big thanks to Nikki DeCarle and Carla Graamsma of the CHL for all of their help and efforts throughout the interview process proceeding the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game. There’s nothing better than telling a great story on draft day, and we unearthed quite a few of them.