Minnesota has a long history of churning out NHL talent. From Phil Housley, Neal Broten, Jamie Langenbrunner, Nick Bjugstad, to Zach Parise, David Backes, and Nick Leddy, the State of Hockey ranks among the highest in active hockey players in the world. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is no different. This year’s list includes 23 names that dot the NHL’s Central Scouting Service for North American Skaters and Goaltenders.
Some of the names are currently in the college ranks, others may have been born in your hometown but went to the National Team Development Program, and some we watched battle in the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament in Downtown St. Paul.
The highest ranked player from Minnesota is Eden Prairie’s Casey Mittelstadt. He is a player that refused to accelerate and forego his senior year of high school to attempt to win a State championship. While coming up short after falling to Trent Klatt’s Grand Rapids Thunderhawks, Mittelstadt dazzled most of the high school season with his shot and his creativity on the ice. The Eden Prairie Eagle looks to become the highest drafted Minnesotan since Erik Johnson was taken first overall by the Blues nearly a decade ago.
Ryan Poehling is still ranked as a first rounder in this year’s draft. The St. Cloud State Husky had a tough go of it as a 17 year old, just scoring 7 goals and 6 assists on a team that had it’s struggles. However, he is in a great program under the tutledge of World Junior Gold Medal winning head coach, Bob Motzko. The NCHC provides solid competition up and down the conference, so Poehling will have to come along quickly in major college hockey. That said, he was one of the younger Poehling brothers that was a part of the perfect Lakeville North team that won the State Championship in 2015.
Other SCSU Huckies on the list and we find Jack Ahcan, a defenseman who played on that Gold Medal U-21 WJC team. At 19 years old, that experience will help his stock as he’s been passed by in the last two drafts. Ahcan had 21 points as a freshman this past season for the Huskies, while using his smaller 5’8” stature against much larger competition.
Dylan Samberg is a big, strong defenseman that is capable of taking the play end-to-end. He was a captain of the Hermantown Hawks this last season on the way to the Class A championship. The Hawks were battle tested as they need overtime to reach the pinnacle in each of the 3 games of the tourney. Samberg scored 28 points in 25 games and has good size that NHL GMs covet.
Noah Cates is a big, 6’1” winger capable of putting up large amounts of points. He scored 54 and 65 points with the Stillwater Ponies in his last two seasons of 25 games each. He is creative, possesses a great shot, and scored one of the best game-winning goals in Minnesota hockey history over Hill-Murray in the 2016 Section championship.
What a GOAL! @ponyhockey wins Section 4AA 1-0 in OT over Hill-Murray! #MSHSL #TheTourney16 @FollowThePuck pic.twitter.com/voI6HUMzXt— Steve Pesek (@StevePesek) February 27, 2016
Cates will head to the University of Minnesota Duluth to play for Scott Sandelin and the Bulldogs.
Micah Miller was on that Grand Rapids squad that beat Mittelstadt’s Eagles in the state championship game. Miller is a smaller player at 5’9”, but he has speed and can snipe from a distance. He scored 31 points in 25 games, and was a co-captain of the Thunderhawks. Headed to SCSU, he’s a player that could add another inch to his frame, and might be worth taking in the 4th/5th round by a team.
Jake Oettinger is the top ranked North American goaltender by CSS. He back-stopped Boston University with a .927 save percentage as a 17 year old with a 2.11 Goals Against Average. Goaltenders are no longer the sub-six footer like Darren Pang. No, teams like goalies with size and Oettinger stands at a solid 6’4” and weighs in at 205 pounds. He’s been very good at BU in a very competitive Hockey East conference.
Minnesota-bred kids in 2017 draft
|Player||Born||Position||2016-17 Team||CSS NA Rank|
|Player||Born||Position||2016-17 Team||CSS NA Rank|
|Casey Mittelstadt||Edina||C||Eden Prairie HS, Green Bay||3|
|Ryan Poehling||Lakeville||C||St. Cloud State University||13|
|Grant Mismash||Brooklyn Park||LW||USA U-18 NTDP||24|
|Scott Reedy||Prior Lake||C||USA U-18 NTDP||40|
|Dylan Samberg||Saginaw||D||Hermantown HS||67|
|Nathan Knoepke||Burnsville||D||USA U-18 NTDP||79|
|Robbie Stucker||St. Paul||D||St. Thomas Academy||88|
|Isaac Johnson||Andover||LW||Des Moines||97|
|Matt Anderson||Shakopee||D||Holy Family Catholic HS, Green Bay||111|
|Nick Leivermann||Edina||D||Eden Prairie HS||119|
|Noah Cates||Stillwater||LW||Stillwater HS||121|
|Sam Huff||Maple Grove||LW||Maple Grove HS||131|
|Jack Ahcan||Edina||D||St. Cloud State University||156|
|Keaton Pehrson||Lakeville||D||Lakveville North HS||158|
|Benton Maass||Elk River||D||Elk River HS||159|
|Micah Miller||St. Paul||RW||Grand Rapids HS, Sioux City||161|
|Noah Ganske||Bloomington||D||Bloomington-Jefferson HS||163|
|Jake Oettinger||Lakeville||G||Boston University||1G|
|Dayton Rasmussen||Eden Prairie||G||Tri-City, Chicago Steel||6G|
|Jared Moe||New Prague||G||Holy Family Catholic HS||26G|