D Mike Downing | 6.03 | 194lbs. | 2013
The Michigan recruit packs loads of potential into his large frame. His strength is in his ability to move the puck quickly and accurately whether it’s to a quick moving forward through the neutral zone or a soft pass left behind the net for his defensive partner while being pursued by a forechecker. Downing sees the ice and is very good at anticipating the play and chooses the right option. He is so quick in transitioning and reading the play that he sometimes executes before his teammates are ready. He should have no trouble in this regard as he advances in his career.
In fact, it may translate into more points as he plays up a level. Downing is not without his flaws, though. He needs to work on his footwork a bit when closing the gap on fast skating forwards who take him to the outside. Also, while Downing possesses a good stick, he has to improve on his 1 on 1 technique when closing on the puck carrier to deliver a check. He’s prone to missing occasionally both in open ice and along the boards. All that said, Downing makes for a good project with considerable upside and relatively little risk.
F Peter Quenneville | 5.11 | 176lbs. | 2013
Passed over in the 2012 NHL Draft, the Edmonton native might follow in the footsteps of some previous USHL high scoring players and turn a productive season into a draft selection. He stands out through his tremendous offensive awareness and instincts. Quenneville not only anticipates the play well but he quickly reacts whether he needs to get to open ice to receive the puck or when identifying who he should move the puck to. He has quick hands to go with his puck distribution abilities as well as an accurate shot with a quick release. Quenneville protects the puck well and rarely turns it over. The noticeable flaw is in his skating. He looks fine and has solid technique in his stride, he just doesn’t get there very quickly. Some much needed lower body strength might help propel Quenneville to the pro ranks by improving his speed.
F John Stevens | 6.02 | 180lbs | 2013
Another player eligible in 2012, Stevens has the look of a solid, 3rd or 4th line center who will log PK time as well as minutes against the opponents’ top line. He’s disciplined in all three zones and clearly knows the defensive side of the game. Stevens is particularly keen in knowing when to force the puck carrier into a turnover or simply hold his position. His stick is on the ice in the passing lanes and he’s always in the right spot to support the play both defensively and offensively. Stevens contributes offensively by distributing the puck to the right man and sensing when he has opening to carry the puck. He isn’t blessed with elite 1 on 1 skills, but brings enough to the table defensively that he might be worth a late pick.
F Seamus Malone | 5.10 | 160lbs. | 2014
The Fighting Saints used one of their pre-draft tenders on Malone and early returns are favorable. He’s a dynamic, offensive player who has quick feet and a good stride to move him around the ice well. Malone displays confidence with the puck that defies his age and experience and is always attacking when in possession of the puck. He has quick hands to go with his legs and is adept at creating turnovers and transitioning the loose pucks. Malone is not afraid to take his smallish frame into traffic and goes to the net without regard for his body. That fearlessness and ability to attack will suit the Wisconsin commit well as he develops his game. His draft status next year will probably be dictated in part by improved finishing skills that should continue to develop this year.
F Dylan Gambrell | 5.11 | 178lbs | 2014
Gambrell epitomizes the disciplined, defense first forward the Fighting Saints have found and developed over the past few years. He doesn’t stray out of position and correctly reads his fellow teammates as they execute Dubuque’s systems. Gambrell shows quick hands when he has the puck whether to move it to an open teammate or to get the puck out of trouble. He makes the simple plays and stays within himself to avoid mistakes. Gambrell’s next step is to continue to develop confidence at this level so he can showcase the offensive skills that he possesses. He definitely shows upside to produce points and should improve as the year season progresses.
D Keegan Ford | 5.09 | 180lbs. | 2014
It might be a stretch to include Ford at this point due to his small stature on the blue line. He has very good footwork and defensive technique. Ford also makes good decisions with the puck whether he moves it up ice or skates it to the red line for a dump in. If Ford has a growth spurt, he might be a fit somewhere down the road. If not, he’ll have to contribute more offense to make up for his lack of size. That said, Ford does play with grit and heart that defies his stature.