All-American Prospects Game, September 25, 2014 (Buffalo, NY)

Team Blue (Grier)
#17 Kyle Connor – F – Connor started the night on the top line with Eichel & Bracco but was later moved off the line in a swap with #12 Greenway on the left wing. Connor has good speed though started the night pretty invisible until really the last period. Then he started to come alive a bit as he displayed that quick north-south speed and drove the puck on his off-wing to the net for a great scoring chance. Later in the 3rd period he set-up #15 Moynihan with a nifty pass as he came around from behind the net and fed a brilliant back-door, across the crease tap-in for his teammate. There was not much room but Connor managed to find Moynihan on the tape at the door step. Connor is a skilled player that will make plays and I have seen his game more consistently threatening on the offensive side more than it was on this night. Still this is only one game of a large sample size and Connor is a strong American player that will look to be selected in the 1st round.

#9 Jack Eichel – F – With a tremendous amount of eyes and pressure to perform Eichel played pretty well. He is certainly dangerous on 1-on-1 situations as not only can he handle the puck he does it with speed and fluidity. You can tell the opposing American players in this age group respect his game as defenseman certainly gave him more time and space than the average player. On one play in the 1st period you could clearly see Eichel chose to play up #14 Young’s side 1-on-1 as he skated through the neutral zone opposed to a bigger and bit more difficult #2 Gabrielle which shows he studies the players and recognizes the situation. He did manage some nice stick skills on the play and got a good shot on net. There were several times during the night he also showed a quick, accurate release keeping the goalies on guard. He has a long reach and protects the puck to keep possession very well. Not much panic in his game. Eichel will speed game up with his explosive skating stride or keep puck on his stick like a yo-yo. He made a nice read on team’s 2nd goal in 2nd period as #14 Young tried a cross-ice pass through the middle, but Eichel picked it off just inside the blue line. As the opposing players converged on him in the high slot, he nicely fed teammate #10 Bracco of the side of the net for the goal. Just great hockey sense and anticipation.

We have watched his game since he was 15 and immediately saw his explosive skating. He looks effortless in his stride and almost looks like he is saving that 4th and 5th gear for the NHL. His stick skills were good back a few years ago, but he has definitely added more slickness to his game as always dangerous. The puck seems to be glued on his stick and he uses his body well to shield off defenders. He is a one of a kind player who can skate, shoot, pass, stickhandle, and take care of own end as well. The goal he scored in the 3rd period was a goal scorer’s goal. As he broke in going to the net and took the #12 Greenway pass from the corner, he easily corralled the puck off his right skate in motion and craftily shot the puck across the grain as the goalie moved to near posted, feathering the puck nicely back to the far side. It just a mindset and skill sets you cannot teach. You don’t really speak much about his defensive side of his game because at his own age group he usually possesses the puck.

His season at BU this year will certainly test playing against older players in the NCAA. It will certainly be entertaining how Eichel performs as a freshman at BU this season and how competition vs Connor McDavid heats up. If his post-game interviewing is an indication, Eichel is headed for a very bright future. He is a very composed young man that just loves the game and has no problem communicating it in a positive fashion. Right now he is the poster-child for USA Hockey prospects and future American players in the NHL.

#10 Jeremy Bracco – F – We have seen his game going back to the OHL Cup.  Personally, we would have given the MVP honor to the Long Island native as he was setting the table for opportunities all night. Early in the game on the PK, he danced a much bigger #5 Cecconi on a 1-on-1 that ended in a good scoring chance. In the 2nd period he was exemplifying his vision and poise on the PP by finding open seams and teammates for scoring opportunities. In the 3rd period he smoothly took pass on the wing and in the same motion pivoted with the puck and led #12 Greenway almost on a break-a-way. It did not happen but the thought and ability is what stood out. He is a tremendous skater who is one of the best on his edges and uses this to his advantage with his elusive moves even though he is a bit undersized. He sees the ice well and when the puck is on his stick he is always dangerous. He scored a goal in the 2nd period as he parked off the side of the net and received a #9 Eichel pass as he handled it and nicely tucked away from as sharp angle making it look easy. He showed nice poise and finish on the play.

Some NHL teams may shy away from him as he’s well under the 6-foot mark. He is a performer and likes to have the puck on his stick whether it be scoring or showcasing his vision, and stick skills. He scored his 2nd goal of the game in the 3rd period as he got in alone on a break-a-way and made quick move to open the goalies #30 Larkin 5-hole open and quickly finished in the back of the net. He has great hockey IQ and natural offensive ability. He finds where the puck is going and makes plays – frequently. Yes, he will need to get stronger for the NHL ranks but going to a strong program of Boston College will benefit his game.  He is a top American prospect for sure and this season will only quantify it.

#12 Jordan Greenway – F – He is a 6’5” 220lbs. winger that can move and play the game well. He will play in all areas of the ice from the corners, to in front of the net, or through the neutral zone. He showed great ability to create turnovers on the fore-check and when he possesses the puck on his stick, utilizes his big frame well to protect the puck. He also is smart on the offensive zone as he will find those soft areas and positions himself well to receive the puck for scoring chances. He had one in the 1st period on the PP and then another whereby the goalie robbed him with a great glove save from the slot in the 3rd period. He has some good speed as will beat D-men wide and drive puck strong to the net. I also feel that his vision and touch are very good for a big guy. His first assist in the game was well played by Greenway down low in the corner as #3 Hanifin tried to defend but he simply spun off and protected puck and found #9 Eichel all alone with a backhand pass out front. On his next shift in the 3rd period, he sprang Bracco on a break-a-way with some help, but it was his eyes that made the play happen. He reads plays well, plays 200-feet, and could really blossom into a special prospect. Greenway is a true power forward in the making. He also displayed some witty character in his post-game interview.

#11 Jack Roslovic – F – He is a pretty skilled forward although at times I thought he tried to get a little too cute with the shake-n-bake shoulder fakes. He set-up some good plays, especially hitting #15 Moynihan in the slot all alone from down low. You would like to see a bit more sandpaper to his game and honest north-south game. He is probably a mid-round selection at this point.
#15 Connor Moynihan – W – I think there is more interest in Moynihan simple because of his size. I was not a big fan of his game this summer at USAH Select 17s and again on this night. He fails to do the simple things consistently like breaking the puck out off the wall/wing. In fact one-time it led to a bad turnover and scoring chance for the other team. The offensive ability and thought is limited too. On the shift where he scored, he actually showed his lack of vision and a true offensive mind as #11 Roslovic was open on other side of the slot, yet Moynihan didn’t think twice and fired the puck high and wide. Eventually he was given a gift in tight on a back-door pass from #17 Connor that he scored easily into open net. Any talk of Moynihan going in the 1st round of the 2015 NHL Draft is pretty extreme in my mind.

#16 Karch Bachman – F – He is not overly big but possesses good wheels and pretty good set of hands. At this point he is a sleeper type for the draft as plays at Culver Military Academy (IN) though he has game. He was showing his speed for average size player, as would drive wide to the net or create scoring chance like in the 3rd period off give-n-go situations with #18 Smith. He scored in the 2nd period as #8 Baer shot went wide and quickly popped off the end, puck board. Bachman swiftly recognized the goalie out of position and just corralled the puck and nicely tucked it near side on his backhand while his skates were below the goal line. Bachman also has an exceptional, quick release on his shot. He actually could have potted a couple more goals just on break-a-ways as line mate #18 Smith sent him in all alone on two opportunities but Bachman chose to shoot instead deking and was stopped on both. Regardless, Bachman may be average size and plays in scarcely scouted high school league so the attention he has gained is low, but he will attract more attention as the season progresses for the draft as he is deceptively talented.

#8 Alex Baer – F – He displayed some a good 2-way game with speed, quickness, and agility. In the 1st period he almost potted the first goal on the PK as and teammate #19 Gates broke play up at the defensive blue line and then put himself in position to 1-time a cross-crease feed that the goalie made a great save on to deny Baer. Later in the 2nd period he scored the first goal of the game as he nicely re-directed a high-low #18 Smith pass from the point. On the play he showed great recognition of the goalie not set and took full advantage. Baer had a few other solid scoring chances and started to make a step in the right direction in getting his name on the map for this year’s draft. You like the speed, energy, and offensive instincts he brought to the game.

#18 Ryan Smith – F – He was one of the few uncommitted players in the AAPG. Smith started to break onto the draft scene this summer at USAH Select 17s in Buffalo. He showed a variety of skill sets at the player development camp and again was displaying at the top American prospects game. The biggest asset I saw on this night was his vision. He only ended up credited with the primary assist on the 1st goal of the game, but also had a couple other dandy set-ups in the 3rd period too. His assist came as he found the puck and himself just inside the blue line with time and space. After realizing any pressure lacked from the opposition he quickly found #8 Baer off the side of net and zinged a high-to-low pass through the seam that was re-directed in for the goal. He showed poise and no panic on the play. He played the wall well on the night and sent #16 Bachman in all along on a give-n-go at the offensive blue line in the 3rd period. Again, he made another heads up play shifts later as he came back hard on the back check to gain possession of the puck inside defensive zone. He very efficiently bumped the player off the puck, pivoted, and seamed a pass up the middle quickly in transition to #16 Bachman for another break-a-way attempt. He is a solid skater and handles the puck well too. He isn’t the dynamic, high-end type but think he has been hidden a bit at Northwood Prep and will get opportunity to showcase his talents in the USHL this season with Green Bay. Smith shows good size and strength too.

#19 Brent Gates – F – He is another one of those players that gets pushed under the rug a bit with the strong draft crop of ‘97s in the USA. He will not leave you in “aw” though he does a lot of good things. In the 1st period he showed relentless pressure and made #14 cough over the puck in front of his own net that would have led to a goal but the official called Gates for a weak slashing call. He then created a scoring chance on the PK as he anticipated a high pass at the defensive blue line that he deflected out of the zone and into a 2-on-2 scoring chance at the other end and nicely set-up #8 Baer for great in-close scoring chance. Another play he showed more offensive thoughts as he controlled the puck down the wing and into the offensive zone sending a saucer pass to a breaking #21 Corriveau at the far post that just missed connecting for a goal. He plays all 3-zones and is effective in different situations. He is not going to break scoring records though is a good size winger with decent skills, hands, and sense. He lacks the speed or explosive stride although still think he flies a tad under the radar. Probably projects as a 3rd liner type after he takes his game for development to Notre Dame.

#20 Cam Askew – F – A player who during the prep school years at St. Sebastian’s and Cushing Academy was said by many to be a future stud in the NHL.  He struggled last season in his rookie QMJHL campaign and was traded from Drummondville to Moncton for a change of scenery. At the AAPG, he again looked to be going through the motions and not doing much that set him above the competition. We noticed his offensive instincts just one shift as he had control of the puck in the offensive zone at the top of the circle and made a nice curl move on his backhand to elude defender that led to a good shot on net. Other than that play there was very little to write down about and in fact made a poor defensive play on Team White’s 3rd goal in the 3rd period.

#21 Taggert Corriveau – F – Corriveau was the lone NE Prep school player at the AAPG. He played adequately though again one of those players that did not shine to really make you jot down notes about his game. He went hard to the net one play that almost lead to a tally and other areas of the ice and zones fine, yet as far as making NHL scout drooling not much. We have seen him in the past at USAH Select Camps and his performances have been average to above average although when the level of competition is raised another bar, I’m not quite sure Corriveau is still standing out.

#3 Zach Werenski – D – He plays a very calm, collected game. He excels because he doesn’t try to over extend his game. Right away in the 1st shift he had the puck behind his own net and showed great poise to shield the puck away using his body from the forechecker and make the nice tape-to-tape pass to the winger for the breakout. He is a smart player on both sides of the puck. Plays sound position defensively and tough to beat 1-on-1 because he skates well and utilizes his stick well to break plays up. He shows good support for his partner and is very solid on the outlet passes. He will get involved offensively as well as had point blank opportunity on offensive zone in 1st period as he jumped up yet failed to bury the shot for a goal. Werenski might not be offensively gifted like Hanifin right now although think he may be able to develop that side a bit more if given the green light. He reads plays well and makes good puck decisions. Werenski was probably the most reliable D-man the entire night from puck drop to final buzzer. He certainly has the mind and abilities to develop into a solid NHLer.he was better early in this game than he was later on she he tried to do too much as few times. Would be nice nice to see a more consistent physical side to his game.

#4 Brandon Carlo – D – He did not really do anything spectacular on the night but that’s not his style of game either. He plays a steady game on the back end using his big body to play sound defensively and that’s exactly what he did this summer too at the NJEC. He will play the body, clear out in front of the net, and break the puck out. He got the puck to the net from the point on Team Blue’s 3rd goal in the 2nd period although pin-balled a bit, it was the initial thought of getting pucks to the net that you like. His size, mobility, decision making, and ability to handle puck is what gets NHL teams excited.

#5 Christian Evers – D – He plays a pretty sound defensive game although he was beat a few times on the night because of questionable positioning and read on the developing play. His game is nothing much on the offensive side, but more play a physical style and making outlets. He threw big hit on #21 Jackson in the 3rd period that left the smaller winger a bit stung. He skates well and can handle the puck adequately.

#6 Tory Dello – D – Watched his game at USAH Select 17s this summer and was impressed with strong defensive ability. It seemed many of the top USA ’97s age group struggled to beat Dello 1-on-1 and were outmuscled out front of the net. At the AAPG, Dello did not “wow” you and it wasn’t expected that he would. He just goes about his business by of taking care of his own end first and breaking the puck out. He showcased his solid defensive thinking in the 3rd period by playing a 2-on-1 great by not committing too early to the puck carrier #19 Foley or to #20 Laczynski and nicely broke the play up with good stick positioning in the passing lane. He is fairly mobile and can handle the puck adequately.

#2 Doug Blaisdell – D – He is an average D-man. In the 1st period, he was badly turned inside/out by #3 Hanifin at the left circle and bit on the fake so bad he fell. On a night to showcase he did not do anything special to etch himself in your memory.

#7 Casey Fitzgerald – D – He plays a smart overall game. He isn’t overly big on the blue line but skates and does the little things like getting shots to the net from the point, making quick outlets, and good overall decisions with the puck. There were a few times during game whereby his point shot was almost tipped for goal or the rebound potted in for a goal. Also, one play with pressure on in the defensive corner he eluded the fore-check with a nice tight, button turn and started the breakout. Offensively he will chip in periodically and can be relied upon with his steady defensive play because of his hockey sense. He will need to bulk up his strength up and adding a bit more sandpaper to his game would go miles as well.

#14 Caleb Jones – D – He plays very average at best and performs widely inconsistent. At one point he plays gaps well as will step up and take the body well at the defensive blue line then next play he gets the puck and instead of making the simple outlet he turns puck over. He should keep game simple and play to his strength. He tries to do too much and leads himself into trouble. On the 1st goal against he actually took his own goalie out in the crease so he couldn’t push off post and make the save.

#1 Luke Opilka – G –He played a very solid game as he got the start and played in the first half of the game. He was tested a few times in the first period with his positioning being good and never got himself into trouble. He limited rebounds and looked very composed between the pipes. He made at late 1st period save on #17 Bittner as he was sprung into the slot all alone but Opilka was up to the task. He also made a nice flurry of saves down low in tight showing his quick leg work. The goal against in the 2nd period you cannot blame really on Opilka as he made a tremendous save on #9 White going post-to-post and stoning the forward on his blocker side. There was an ensuing scramble off the side of the cage but the defensive positioning lacked with his teammates. Then his D-man #14 Jones knocked him down in the crease and stopped him from sliding over to make the save on #18 Warren out front. Overall, Opilka was good and stood tall when called upon.

#30 Ryan Bednard – G – Bednard came into the came in for the 2nd half of the game and played decent as he only allowed two goals against on 21 shots. He was tested early too in the 2nd period coming in cold and quickly had to make a post-to-post save. The first goal against was on the PK and with #2 Gabrielle fore-check that created the turnover to #18 Boeser who slide a cross-crease pass to a streaking # Novak that Bednard had no shot in saving in tight. The other goal against could have been prevented if he closed his pads quicker yet he left a juicy rebound on the goal line that #19 Foley cleaned up. These games are always tough for goalies as the all-star type fire power that comes at the goalies yet Bednard made saves. He is the prototypical sized goalie these days at 6’4”and goalies tend to develop later so there maybe something maturing in Bednard.

Team White (Olyczk)

#18 Brendan Warren – F – He was decent on the night and actually made a beautiful play on the 1st Team White goal as he initially made the rush into the offensive zone on his off-wing but made a nice backhand pass around the defender on #9 White’s tape that looked like a sure goal but goalie #1 Opilka robbed. Yet the play did not die and Warren showed the presence of mind to stay out front and the puck popped out to him and he finished play off with goal on backhand low as the goalie was out of position. He threw a few hits, one being questionable in the corner on #12 Greenway though you got to like the physical play especially versus an NTDP teammate in Ann Arbor. He shows offensive thoughts, good size, and can play both sides of the puck. In past viewings Warren has always played a pretty steady two-way game.

#9 Colin White – F – White was average on the night as we have seen him perform better. He did get a few scoring chances but usually White will bury his chances ,especially the door step set-up #18 Warren gave him in the 2nd period. There were a couple other shots that hit the goalie where normally White would have placed the puck in the corner. Secondly, there were a few lazy turnovers in the defensive zone on the breakout.  For a potential 1st rounder you would like to see better consistency and stronger mental game. We did like that he did not give up on play for team’s first goal in 2nd period as he and #18 Warren connected after White was initially stoned on the play. It’s only one game and a glorified all star game at that. Long season ahead.

#15 Christian Fischer – F – One of his best assets is his shooting ability and he usually finds the back of the net although he never finished on the night even though he had a handful of shots on net. In fact, in the 3rd period he was point blank in the slot with the puck on his stick but launched the shot high and wide – something not of the norm. He also tried to get to cute on the PP in the 1st period as when pressure mounted at the blue line he forced a pass across to D-man that was deflected out of the zone and led to a scoring chances against. It’s a tough one-game showcase so Fischer might have been over thinking a bit. He made one nice offensive play in 1st period at the offensive blue as he touched the puck near the wall back out to a breaking #2 Gabrielle for a great scoring opportunity. He is definitely a player to watch closely this season for the NHL Draft.

#17 Paul Bittner – F – He is a large body and can move decently although at the end of the day you need to show that extra special talent if you are to be drafted in the 1st round.  In the 1st period #4 Novak made a great play to lead him into the break-a-way, yet Bittner failed to realize it and fired a shot where a natural goal scorer would have taken the extra strides or make moves in tight to finish the play.

#4 Tom Novak – F – He isn’t the most gifted skater but adequate enough. He is a very heads up player as he sees the plays develop and will make nice little touch or passes through the seams that send his teammates into a great scoring chance. His hands are also gifted as he handles the puck quite well whether it be open ice or in tight spaces. He found the back of the net in the 2nd period on the PP as #2 Gabrielle did the dirty work and #12 Boeser made the back door pass to Novak breaking in on the other side of the net. He makes good decisions with the puck and possesses good vision on the breakout, through the neutral zone, and of course on the offensive zone. If he can get a quicker stride to match his quick hands and thought process then Novak’s percentage of making it in the NHL will be that much higher.

#12 Brock Boeser – F – He works all areas of the ice well from below the dots, along the wall, and through the neutral zone. Boeser is a developing power forward type that skates pretty well, will play a physical way, and also has good offensive instincts. He received the primary assist on Team White’s 2nd goal in the 2nd period on the PP as he gained a pass on the side of the net down low and nicely slide the puck across the top of crease on his backhand to a breaking #4 Novak that had entire net to score. Should also say he performed well at USAH Select 17s in the summer and formulated the top USA line at Ivan Hlinka Tourney with Novak and Yan.

#19 Erik Foley – F – He shows some offensive thoughts though his game is being strong along the walls and below the dots. He creates opportunity for himself by winning battles and setting up teammates with smart, little passes indirectly of the boards or peeling himself out of the corner. He will score some goals but he is not a natural finisher. One example was on his 1st shift of the game he had a 3-on-1 with the puck on the left wing. Instead of changing the puck position and challenging the D-man and goalie on the play, he simply shot the puck, failing to utilize his teammates. Again, on a 2-on-1 situation in the 3rd period with #20 Laczynski he looked unnatural on what to do and sent pass right at opposing D-man’s stick and the play died.

#20 Tanner Laczynski – F – He made some decent plays on the night and had some scoring chances although he did not do anything special. He was credited for his team’s 3rd goal in the 3rd period as he shot the puck that got under goalie and laid near goal line yet #19 Foley actually knocked the puck in off #20 Askew’s stick out front. He shows some offensive thoughts and skills but nothing high end.

#11 Dennis Yan – F – Yan made some nice passes on the night to set-up scoring chances. He made good, simple point feed through the seam on one, another he made a behind the back pass from below the goal line out front to teammate for scoring opportunity, then in 3rd period off the wall to #20 Laczynski off the side of the net that finally led to Team White’s 3rd goal. A couple years back he was a shining star at USAH Select 15s and still does show offensive promise though not at the same high offensive potency he was back then.

#10 Troy Terry – F – For a player that was sick and under the weather he performed fairly well. He made some plays with puck on his stick and smart passes in the offensive zone that created scoring chances. One of his best chances came in the 2nd period as Terry controlled the puck in the offensive corner and then quickly darted out away from defenders and found himself on his forehand alone cutting across the slot though he fired the puck high missing the net and his golden opportunity.

#21 Robby Jackson – F – Jackson has always had the offensive mindset as he handles the puck very well looking for the little seam pass or hold onto the puck to create an offensive opportunity with his slick hands. Novak and Jackson kind of remind me of each other as they are not the most gifted skaters but at the end of the night they have managed to create scoring chances and usually get on the score sheet. He plays smart and sees the ice either to set-up his teammate for a goal or break-a-way at the right time to get hit with the pass for his own goal. He will find the soft areas of the ice to get open and expose the opposition. Jackson helped break the puck out on his team’s first goal of the night and was credited for an assist.

#2 Grant Gabriele – D – He was a player that struggled a bit early but started to make plays as the game progressed. He isn’t dynamic offensively like Hanfin or defensively sound as Werenski, yet creates opportunity for his team. In the 1st period he made a nice rush and give-n-go in 1st period at the offensive blue that then found himself coming down the slot with a great scoring chance.

#3 Noah Hanifin – D – The thing you like best about Hanifin is his fluid skating ability and the poise in handling the puck. He never really seems under stress as he makes good puck decisions and possess great natural abilities on his skates in passing, shooting, stick handling, and most importantly hockey IQ. Hanifin was one of the best players in the 1st period as he was displaying his offensive abilities. In one shift he effortlessly skated the puck down his off-side and then quickly cut just inside the top of the circle leaving the opposing D-man in the dust. He simple plays smooth and smart. Especially in the early going of the game he made what you think is nothing into something as his keen hockey sense, vision, and skill sets will allow. For a 17-year old he doesn’t have many faults although like Werenski, he did play better earlier in the game as opposed to the 3rd period.

#1 Michael Lackey – G – He played well on the night as he looked confident between the pipes with good positioning and standing tall. He made an outstanding save in the first period while his team was on the PP and a point blank shot came at him in close that he kicked aside. He also made a few tough saves early in the 2nd period before his action for the night end half way through the second frame. Lackey showed good technique on angles, rebound control, and was only beaten on a crafty re-direct shot pass from the point by #8 Baer who he stoned earlier in the game on the 2-on-2. He used his large frame well to his advantage with good crease movements making it hard to beat. It helps that he is 6’3” and covers a lot of net.

#30 Ryan Larkin – G – Saw Larkin back in the summer at USAH Select 17s whereby he played strong as he made the much needed stops in tight or from the point when his team needed him most. On this night he did not fare as well giving up five goals against. Now you cannot blame Larkin for it all as his work load was pretty heavy versus some talented Team Blue players. Though on the first goal, he overplayed #9 Eichel coming out and committing to him and forgetting about any other possible shooter – in this case #10 Bracco. Making a point blank save on #9 Eichel’s goal or even #10 Bracco’s break-a-way goal could have changed the momentum of the game. Larkin is competing in the USHL this season with Cedar Rapids so he will be tested and have other opportunities to impress scouts.