The conclusion of 2023 USA Hockey U17 Boys Festival gave us a very nice view of the 2006 class as the players laced up their skates for their regions and duked it out. The high concentration of talent gave us a good pool of players to analyze and make necessary adjustments to our rankings for the July update. There were plenty of players who made cases to receive a bump up the rankings, and naturally some that had to go down in order to accommodate those trending upwards. Most of the changes on our rankings are from USA players seeing upticks from strong performances as well as some new additions.
Better late than never, Mac Swanson has soared up the rankings after an excellent debut season for the USHL’s Fargo Force after putting together nearly a point per game pace. Swanson jumps up to 30th in our North American rankings, his tireless work rate and exceptional playmaking ability are cornerstones to his game and he relies on his strengths to make his impact felt in each and every game. He was able to stand out while playing on a heavily stacked Pacific team and really underline the need to move him up in the rankings.
Ashton Schultz took a massive leap up 103 spots from the 3-star range to 4-star after some excellent showings for Minnesota. He was a big performer for their team and his ability to control the play with the puck on his stick and run through his available options quickly and effectively enabled him to take up a key role for his side. He moves well around the offensive zone and is keen to take whatever the defense gives him, identifying open seams to feed a pass through or to accelerate into.
Another player moving up into the next tier, William Zellers earns the 4.5-star rating as he jumps up to 54th among our North American skaters. Zellers has tremendous amounts of skill and poise with the puck on his stick, and while sometimes it only comes out in spurts the talent he has is undeniable and he has the ability to dictate games for his team. His decision making was among the best in the U17 Hockey Festival and he was able to go from playing a passive game to flipping the switch and asserting himself.
Lukas Peterson broke into the Top-100 and the 4-star tier after a series of strong performances. Poise and maneuverability are the keys to his game and he blends them together to effectively lead transitions up ice to start plays from the back end. He makes good reads at the offensive blue lines and his well-timed pinches keep the pressure on the opposition as his Atlantic teammates were able to continue working down low. Peterson is someone who has been trending upwards in our eyes and he continues to impress.
Kamil Bednarik is another name ascending into the 4.5-star tier after moving up 52 spots. While he was not at the 2023 USA Hockey U17 Boys Festival he is coming off a productive season with the U.S. NTDP U17s where he played a key role in their success. He plays a strong game at both ends of the ice with a tenacious effort on the forecheck and ability to force turnovers that he can convert into high quality scoring opportunities. The future Boston Terrier has a great sense of where he needs to be on the ice and is not afraid to let his wrist shot fly when he finds the space.
Eight players were added to our rankings following the 2023 USA Hockey U17 Boys Festival. Each of these players are guys we were familiar with prior to this event but we felt their performances were strong enough to earn a spot in our latest update. Ethan Weber and Tyler Chiovetti are debuting just inside the Top-100 at 97 and 98 respectively, both of whom had some solid showings for their respective teams. Weber showed great mobility on the back end and had some dynamic moments when he was able to conjure up some excellent offensive opportunities out of thin air. Chiovetti is a player I’ve enjoyed watching in the past and he showed me once again why that is. He is intelligent on the ice and finds pockets of space to get lost in and capitalize on the defense overlooking him. He has strong skill on the puck and a heck of a wrist shot that makes him a real threat in the offensive zone.
Jackson Lackas, Luke Goukler, Teddy Richardson, Robert Cowan, Kolin Sisson, and Alexander Bales also made their debuts in the rankings after some strong showings at the 2023 USA Hockey U17 Boys Festival for their respective teams.
This was a big event for the 2006-born crop of players for us to help get a better look at the field and accurately place them within the rankings. The Hlinka Gretzky Cup coming up in August will be another big event for this group as we fine tune the rankings even further. As many of these players move forward in their draft year it will be important to monitor their progress and see how they perform in these marquee events.