The season is over and all the performances at USA Hockey Nationals have been taken into account and movements in the rankings have been made. This class continues to show a fair amount of shuffling as we expand the list and add more views of each of the players, demonstrating how close the competition is. While the 15U World Selects Invitational took place this past month, the updates will be added for the ensuing month.
One of the biggest standout performers, if not the biggest, at Nationals was Camden Nimmer and he is deservedly getting moved up to the number 7 slot from previously sitting eighth on the list. He was so dynamic en route to Bishop Kearney emerging as National Champions, carrying the puck with such purpose and using his agility to make defenders miss and create openings for himself and his teammates. His ability to pick out passes in tight windows and score from just about anywhere inside made him dangerous and unpredictable.
Michael Berchild of Shattuck-St. Mary’s also had himself quite a strong showing as he was one of his team’s top performers. His intelligence on the ice is what separates him from a lot of his competitors, as he processes the game so well and seems to see the ice just in a different way. He attacks open space so well and has great hands when the defense looks to close him down, displaying patience and keeping his head up to evaluate his options. He has a great toolkit consisting of his keen awareness, solid shooting ability, and good skating, and he continues to help power Shattuck to strong performances.
Another Sabres’ star making his presence felt, Tynan Lawrence is debuting very high at #15 after being a key performer for his team all season long. As we begin filtering Canadian born players to the list, it feels appropriate to start with Lawrence given his play at Nationals. He has a real knack for punishing the opposition and using his dual threat capabilities to unlock defenses and take what is given to him. He’s a great skater and he uses his speed to bear down on the defense and put them in a position where they may have to dive in and make an attempt on the puck, and he is able to quickly deke his way out of the defender’s crosshairs and get in behind.
Alex Mclean is another name coming in with a high ranking as we integrate the neighbors to the north. The Pittsburgh Penguins Elite forward clocks in at #24 after a dazzling display of goalscoring prowess at Nationals. He was operating on the half walls on the powerplay and all eyes needed to be on him as he was quick to recognize a screen in front and quickly fire the puck towards goal to take advantage of the situation. His playmaking skills were equally effective as he identified seams in the defense and funneled passes through and created good chances.
Bishop Kearney Selects forward Dain Gordon is another name being added after being a key cog in his team’s Championship run. I like Gordon’s style of play, he isn’t the flashiest player on the ice but he has the ability to beat his man if he needs to, and he’s able to make whatever pass he needs and he has a strong shot to go along with it. He uses his size well and gets involved physically to win the puck and is able to battle through traffic to achieve what he is looking to do; he clocks in at #61.
Sean Miller was one of my favorite players to watch at Nationals and, in only the three group stage, I saw enough to give what I felt was a well earned bump from #101 all the way to #31. His dynamism carrying the puck around the offensive zone as he looked for avenues of attack, he was a big piece of the Vengeance backbone. Rhys Medved was another key player for Pittsburgh and saw himself move up ten spaces to 52, a real offensive threat from the point as he dropped down low and got himself involved heavily as he was one of the primary shooting options. His skating was a joy to watch and he created space for himself with ease.
Nate Pederson moved up eleven spaces and fell just outside of the top-25 as he now rests at #26, he was great for Minnesota and he works just about as hard as anyone on the ice. His ability to pop up all over the ice and make his impact felt on a consistent basis was exactly what his team needed, and he showed some slick puck handling skills and was able to consistently find loose pucks amidst chaos around the net.
A couple of defensemen who made some big jumps as well, Brayden Hughes and Abe Barnett each took some healthy leaps up the rankings. Hughes' tenacity on the back end was appealing and he was quick to close down the puck, throw a nice hit, come away with possession, and help his team get up ice on the attack. He is moving up 35 spots into the #76 position in the rankings, and he is someone I will be keeping my eye on. Abe Barnett slots into the #39 spot after previously sitting at #61, and his strong defensive acumen is a big part to why Chicago Mission are able to play the high octane style they do. He reads the opposition well, he makes sure he is well positioned to deal with incoming rushes, and he stays tight to his man with his stick to keep the puck from getting past him.
View the entire ----> 2008 American Player Rankings