The NHL Draft kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Network. I’ve been tossing around the idea of setting up a live chat to discuss some of the players selected and other items. Would anyone drop by if I did?
For starters, there have been two stories in the Herald this week previewing the draft. The first one is a feature about Adam Tambellini, who benefited by going back to the BCHL one more year. Tambellini is in New Jersey for the draft. None of the other guys are.
The other is a feature on the four local guys who could get picked. It could be a historic day for area hockey players and the NHL Draft.
I’ve been asking around about the UND guys who could get picked this weekend. Here’s a quick rundown on what type of players they are and what’s expected of them.
ADAM TAMBELLINI – C – SURREY EAGLES – 2013 recruit
Tambellini has good size at 6-foot-3 and he’s pegged as a goal-scorer. It sounds like he might have a little Brock Nelson in him. No, I’m not saying he’s going to score 28 goals as a sophomore. But he’s tall, slender and can score goals. He might need to bulk up a little as Nelson did when he first arrived at UND before his game can really take off. The opportunity will be there for him to join a scoring line immediately, though. Once Mark Poolman does his work on Tambellini, he could be an outstanding prospect.
KEATON THOMPSON – D – U.S. UNDER 18 – 2013 recruit
Thompson is a good skating offensive defenseman. He’s also capable in his own end. While the high-end offense is in him, we might not see it right away. Coach Dave Hakstol says Job No. 1 at UND will be to show that he’s a reliable guy who takes care of his own end. We may see a development path like Jordan Schmaltz or a Dillon Simpson, where the offense will come out later in their careers. Thompson will only be 17 when he arrives on campus this fall, just as Schmaltz and Simpson both came as very young defensemen.
GAGE AUSMUS – D – U.S. UNDER 18 – 2013 recruit
Ausmus will give UND a stay-at-home presence next season on the blue line. He’s described as a guy who is gritty, hard to play against and efficient. Nobody talks about his skating skills, but he has the ability to skate the puck into the zone, which I saw him do on a couple of occasions at the World Under-18 tournament. Ausmus’ stock rose because of his performance at the U18s.
LUKE JOHNSON – F – LINCOLN STARS – 2013 recruit
Johnson is noted as a highly skilled forward, though Hakstol said he likes to describe him as a good “two-way centerman.” Hakstol said he thinks Johnson has worked hard to become that type of player. That’s not to say he doesn’t have offensive skills; Johnson could end up getting power-play time this year because he sees the ice well and has good puck skills.
TUCKER POOLMAN – D – OMAHA LANCERS – 2014 recruit
Poolman isn’t on any of the draft rankings, but NHL teams are showing interest in him. His development has been interesting. Ausmus told me that Poolman was 5-foot-7 as a high school sophomore, 6-foot-1 when he graduated and is 6-foot-3 now. At EGF, he was a real, solid, efficient guy. Nobody skated past him. He could move guys off the puck and he made a good first pass. His game has progressed since then and he got a lot of attention this year. He’s been passed over in two drafts already, but the third year could be the charm. His route is similar to Paul LaDue (HS to NAHL to USHL to overage draft prospect).
DRAKE CAGGIULA – F – NORTH DAKOTA
I haven’t seen a single draft ranking with Caggiula on it and I haven’t heard a single piece of buzz that suggests he may get picked, but I’m going to throw his name out there anyway. The ability to beat guys 1-on-1 is very rare. Not many guys have it, and when they do, they usually get picked. Caggiula has that ability. He showed it several times this season. His year was inconsistent, yes, but as the youngest player on the roster last season, he definitely showed flashes. Caggiula also plays on an edge and doesn’t shy from physical play. Once he adds more consistency, he could be a very good prospect.
Other UND draft eligibles: D Troy Stecher (Penticton), F Wade Murphy (Penticton), F Colten St. Clair (North Dakota), F Trevor Olson (Sioux City), G Cam Johnson (Fargo), F Luke Voltin (Lincoln), F Jack Rowe (Cedar Rapids), D Charlie Pelnik (Fargo)
I found one seven-round mock draft. If you want to check that out, here it is.