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It’s every hockey player’s dream growing up to one day play in the NHL. For several current and former high school and prep players in New England, that dream became closer to reality earlier this week when NHL Central Scouting Service released its midterm rankings for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Of course just hearing your name called on draft day doesn’t guarantee you will make the show, but it’s a small step along the journey. Players born between Jan. 1, 1996 and September 15, 1998 are eligible for this year’s draft that takes place June 24-25 at Buffalo’s First Niagara Center.
Former Malden Catholic Lancers center Matt Filipe, a two-time former Super 8 Champion, is the 64th-rated North American skater. A big, power forward, the Lynnfield, Mass. native is playing his senior season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the USHL, the top Tier 1 junior league in North America.
Filipe recently competed in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Omaha. Earlier in the year he was selected to skate in the USA Hockey/CCM All-American Prospects Game in December. Both games are two of the more highly scouted showcases of NHL Draft talent during the season.
Another former Lancer, Boston College freshman defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, is rated 108th. The younger brother of Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald and son of New Jersey Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald, he is in his second season of draft eligibility.
"Casey is a phenomenal player. He's got a lot of confidence in himself, he uses that to his advantage. He's just got to work on some of his defensive positioning, but that comes with time and maturity," said Fitzgerald’s defensive partner, BC junior and Florida Panthers second-round draft pick Ian McCoshen.
Hotchkiss (Conn.) defenseman Marshall Rifai is the top current high school or prep player listed. The smooth-skating Montreal native is 99th on the list of North American skaters.
Former Hingham and Dexter star blue liner Luke McInnis, now with the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL, is listed at 118. The Boston College recruit joined Filipe at the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and was named the MVP of the USA Hockey/CCM All-American Prospects Game after scoring the game-winning goal.
Selects Academy 18U left wing Greg Printz, a Providence recruit, is ranked 127th. Teammate Carter Long, a defenseman committed to Vermont, is listed at 205. The program, out of the South Kent School in Conn., boasts three alums on the list as well. Notre Dame commit and Green Bay Gamblers defenseman Andrew Peeke is rated 50th, Jake Ryczek, a Providence commit and Sioux City Musketeers defenseman, is ranked 116th, and Quinnipiac freshman defenseman Chase Priskie comes in at 183rd.
Avon Old Farms (Conn.), a perennial prep power, has four players listed. Former Bishop Hendricken winger and Northeastern recruit Jamie Armstrong is listed at 133. BU commit Patrick Harper (146) and UConn commit Adam Karashik (162) are the other skaters listed. Matthew Ladd is rated 21st among eligible North American goaltenders. The Winged Beavers boast several famous alums in the NHL, including Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Swedish import and The Gunnery (Conn.) center Gustaf Westlund is rated 144th among North American skaters. Albany Academy right wing and Yale commit Kevin O’Neil (179), Cushing defenseman Matt Dillon (185) and Belmont Hill defenseman and Yale commit Brian Matthews (208) round out the list of current prep players to make the cut.
Cedar Rapids forward and Harvard recruit Matt Gosiewski, a former Millbrook School (N.Y.) star, is rated 184th. Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) forward Liam Murphy, a former standout at Avon Old Farms, is listed 198th.
Wonder Boy at 118? Can't be happy about that.
Watched a game a couple years ago standing next to a USHL scout and a WHL scout. They were talking, game started and they watched one period and walked out. Both said they saw enough.
Agree with their assessment. I saw a ton of raw skill but cheap penalties, lack of effort, poor position play, undisciplined selfish play. And I'm not sure how you break that unless the kid just grows out of it.