It's hard to determine which players will be selected in the USHL Draft. They can literally come from anywhere, as we learned in our USHL Draft primer, and it can be quite the toss up when names are announced at the event. With that said, we've enlisted the help of Justin Schreiber from the USHL Prospects Blog to pinpoint who exactly we can expect to be selected in the Futures Draft, which takes place at 11 AM Eastern on Tuesday, May 17.
By Justin Schreiber, USHL Prospects Blog
Gavin Stoick (Colorado Thunderbirds U16). Stoick led the Thunderbirds in scoring this year with 28 points in 38 games played. Of those 28 points, 15 points were goals and 13 were assists. Stoick helped out on the powerplay adding two tallies on the PP during the season. Stoick also played while the Thunderbirds were shorthanded, getting a goal with a man down. He also racked up 27 PIMs on the year. Stoick is very big for a player of the midget minor level, standing at 6'2"/ 200 pounds. He is still uncommitted for college, but BU, Cornell, Harvard, Yale, and Michigan are very interested in him. With that list of colleges, it's obvious that Stoick is very smart and more than likely shows those smarts out on the ice. I would compare Stoick to Indiana's leading scorer Bryon Paulazzo. Stoick will definitely be drafted in this year's Futures Draft and could even end up on a USHL roster next year if the situation presents itself.
Zach Stepan (Shattuck St. Mary's U16) is an average sized forward out of the great hockey program Shattuck Saint Mary's. Stepan put up some good numbers at Shattuck this year showing off his offensive talent. He averaged over a point a game this season. In 40 games played, Stepan racked up 19 goals and 23 assists for a grand total of 42 points on the year. The 6'0", 162 lb forward out of Faribault, Minnesota also received 20 penalty minutes all year. Stepan is obviously very talented and also very disciplined which is very attractive to very many teams. Too many very's there? Well expect to hear a lot more very's to describe Stepan. I would compare Stepan to fellow Wisconsin recruit Ryan Walters. Stepan is most likely to going to go to Wisconsin, where his cousin Derek plays. I would also expect Stepan to be drafted on Tuesday .
Riley Barber (Compuware U16) performed very well in midget minor hockey last year. He is widely regarded as one of the best '94 U.S. born forwards. He is a very good skater with good speed apparently, and has very good hands that make him a good passer. The last info I have on Barber from July of 2009 says that he was 5'10"/168. I would assume that he has grown quite a bit since then, and if you have his current size, please feel free comment on this post. Barber posted some great stats as mentioned before, getting 38 points in 38 games this past season. Of those 38 points, 16 were goals and 22 were assists. He also added 2 powerplay goals on the season and 28 PIMs this year. Barber also performed well when it counted most, getting 5 points in 5 playoff games and 5 points in 6 games of the MAHA State Hockey Tournament. I would compare Barber to Chicago forward Andrei Kuchin. Expect to see Riley Barber drafted on Tuesday.
AJ Coleman (Pittsburgh Hornets U16) is the guy with the best stats so far in this post. In 70 games played this past season, and got an astonishing 87 points, an amazing number for midget minor hockey. He is obviously a a very talented playmaker, getting 53 of those 87 points on assists. But that said, he still added 34 goals to his overall point total, which is a very good number. Coleman also only had 22 penalty in those 70 games which shows that he is very disciplined. The forward from Moon Township, Pennsylvania has gotten some college hockey attention, and has already got an offer from the Robert Morris hockey program at just 15 years old. Michigan and Ohio State have also shown interest in the 5'10"/175 playmaker. I would compare Coleman to, get ready, Tri City Storm star Jaden Schwartz. Expect for Coleman's name to be called on Tuesday during the USHL Futures Draft.
Ray Pigozzi (Chicago Mission U16) missed some games this season with a knee injury, causing him only to be able to play in 20 games with the Chicago Mission's midget minor squad. Even though he only appeared in 20 games, he made the most of those games gaining 30 points. Pigozzi had 11 goals and 19 assists showing his passing ability. The thing that stood out to me most on Pigozzi's stat sheet however, was the 24 penalty minutes he racked up in 20 games. This shows me that Pigozzi has a physical aspect to his game as well, which probably has quite a few USHL teams drooling over having Pigozzi join their team next year. Pigozzi has average size for a player coming into the USHL, standing at 5'11", 165 pounds. He also has a few colleges looking at him. Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire are all interested in Pigozzi, and all three of those team were in the NCAA Hockey Tournament last season. I would compare Pigozzi to Chicago Steel scorer Tyler Barnes. Expect to see Ray Pigozzi get drafted on Tuesday's Futures Draft.
Nate Arentz (Lakeville North HS) is a forward out of the widely watched Minnesota High School hockey system. Arentz plays for the Lakeville North Panthers where he put together a very nice season. In 30 games played this past season, Arentz put up 31 points. He showed his scoring ability, scoring 20 goals and 11 assists. Just like Pigozzi, his penalty minutes stand out a lot to me. In 30 games, Arentz only had 6 PIMs which shows that Arentz is not only a great scorer, but he is very disciplined. I don't have current a size for Arentz, but in July 2009, Arentz was 5'10"/155. Just like Riley Barber above, he's probably grown since then, so I can't really give you an accurate size measurement. I would compare Arentz to Green Bay Gamblers forward Reed Seckel. Keep an eye out for Nate Arentz as a future USHL player.
Gage Torrel (Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake HS) is another forward from Minnesota High School hockey. Torrel played 26 games for the Monticello Stars this past season. Torrel showed his offensive talent in those 26 games, putting up 26 goals and 19 assists for 45 total points. Averaging a goal a game in Minnesota High School Hockey is no easy task, and you have to be a very talented scorer to do so. Torrel has average size, coming in at 5'10", 170 pounds. Torrel is currently flying under the radar in terms of college hockey as it appears no teams are interested in him at the moment. Expect that to change in the next few years. I would compare Torrel to Waterloo Blackhawks star JT Brown, based on his scoring ability and size. I would expect to see Gage Torrel in the USHL within the next few years.
Cody Payne (Mississauga Reps) is a guy that I don't have any statistical info on. If you can contribute to this, please comment. I can tell you that he has very good size, standing at 6'2", 195 pounds as a 16 year old. I would expect to see him in the USHL soon.
Visit our USHL Draft page for full coverage of the 2010 USHL Drafts, which includes live coverage of Tuesday's Futures Draft on our radio program, Rink Side Radio, at 11 AM Eastern.