It was a glorious weekend of Michigan hockey for me, as I took a road trip to Ann Arbor to take in games featuring the National Team Development Program (NTDP) and University of Michigan. The NTDP got two wins over United States League opponents while the Wolverines capped off a weekend sweep of American International on Saturday. All three games gave me a great look at some top prospects and here are a few of them below, plus more kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL some day.
Colin White, C – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
White is a coach’s dream. The two-way center does all the little things right on the ice and is most dangerous when the opposition thinks the puck is leaving their zone, only to see White snatch it back.
“I try to make it key to play defense before offense,” he said. “If you're in the defensive zone you're playing tight and you're just going to break out easier. I've watched a lot of video with coach (Don) Granato on Toews and Bergeron, taking pieces from their games.”
The best part is, White can score, too. Despite missing five games due to mono, the quick center is fourth in team scoring with 19 points in 16 games. Both his parents were college athletes (dad is a Georgia Tech Hall of Famer in football and track; mom played tennis at Florida State) and that has helped his young career.
“They knew what it took to get here,” he said. “They always pushed me in the best direction and did what was best for me, so I thank them always for that.”
One of several NTDPers committed to Boston College, White can’t wait to face some of his current teammates when they go to rival Boston University next season. For now, all the chirping happens in front of the TV.
“Definitely the other day when BC lost, we were in Sweden, watching the highlights...wasn't a good day for me, I'd say,” White said with a laugh. “I just kinda kept my mouth shut. But we respect each other, so it's all goodness.”
And opponents are quickly realizing that if they don’t respect White when he’s on the ice, it’s gonna be a bad day for them. Draft eligible in 2015.
Zach Werenski, D – University of Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten)
The 17-year-old freshman’s numbers are impressive enough (eight points in nine games), but seeing him live, you realize he’s Michigan’s best defenseman. Werenski has size, a great fluid stride and plays in all situations with poise. What’s the ceiling on this kid? Draft eligible in 2015.
Max Domi, C – London Knights (OHL)
Though many of us predicted Domi in an NHL sweater this fall, the wickedly talented pivot has taken the setback in stride, piling up points for the Knights and putting in Player of the Game work for the OHL in the Super Series with two goals in a 5-1 waxing of the Russians. Drafted 12th overall by Arizona in 2013.
Pavel Kraskovsky, C – Loko Yaroslavl (Rus.)
A big, hardworking power forward, Kraskovsky is one of the leading scorers for the Russian side at the Super Series, notching three points through four games. The 6-foot-4 pivot is nearly a point-per-gamer in Russia’s junior circuit and has nice reach with his stick. Drafted 164th overall by Winnipeg in 2014.
Dmytro Timashov, LW – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Very quick, very skilled and passionate about the game, Timashov has been an engine for the Remparts, especially since Anthony Duclair is away in the NHL. The Ukrainian Swede ranks fourth in the ‘Q’ with 38 points in 23 games for the Memorial Cup hosts. Draft eligible in 2015.
Mason McDonald, G – Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
The big netminder was named the league’s third star of the week after surrendering just two goals total on 53 shots over two games (both victories). McDonald loves to take away the bottom of the net, but he also has a pretty quick glove hand. Drafted 34th overall by Calgary in 2014.
Joe Hicketts, D – Victoria Royals (WHL)
The feel-good story of the summer, Hicketts was passed over in the draft but made his mark on Detroit at rookie camp and the Traverse City tourney. The undersized yet physical D-man has a great offensive touch and leads all ‘Dub’ blueliners in scoring with 28 points through 21 games. Signed as a free agent by Detroit in 2014.
Michael Dal Colle, LW – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
The big, talented winger can score from pretty much anywhere thanks to the quick release on his shot and he has been proving that again this season. Dal Colle has 11 goals and 27 points through 15 games and has hit the scoresheet multiple times four games out of five this month. Drafted fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2014.
Joseph Masonius, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
By the end of the weekend, anytime I sensed a big hit coming, I just assumed it was Masonius – and I was usually right. The University of New Hampshire commit can rock opponents with his physicality and he also has a pretty decent point shot. Draft eligible in 2015.
Joseph Cecconi, D – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Cecconi’s Jacks got straight-up demolished by the NTDP on the weekend, but the squad was so shorthanded that some kids didn’t even have names on the backs of their sweaters. Nevertheless, Cecconi is a physical defenseman who can bring some offense too. He’s committed to the University of Michigan and is draft eligible in 2015.