We've taken into account a number of showcases throughout the summer featuring some of North America's top 2006 talent and have done a major overhaul of our rankings. In this feature we take a look at six players who earned themselves a 5 star ranking thanks to their outstanding play this summer. We also breakdown why we have a new number one ranked 2006 in North America.
Macklin Celebrini – Forward, Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep
When watching Shattuck Saint-Mary’s play last season, you could tell that despite multiple different types of talent up and down the roster, Macklin was the most well rounded. He drives the middle of the ice, has the finesse to react to pressure and dictate the flow of play on his terms. Normally with this type of high-end playmaker you don’t find that same level of goal scoring instincts, but in this case you do. Macklin has a blistering one-timer slapshot from the right side on the PP and can find pinpoint accuracy on a short-side wrist shot. There are other players in this class who bring individual elements that are better than Macklin, but he is currently the best overall player on our draft board. He can adjust to different playing systems, control the puck up the ice in all three zones, and produce high-danger scoring chances with diversity and consistency.
Logan Hensler – Defenseman, Minnesota Blades 15U
I’m not sure there is a player in this entire draft class who has impressed more quicker than Logan Hensler. He is one of those players who seems to get better game by game. He quickly went from, “He should be higher” to “He should be mentioned with…” to “I honestly think he sets the bar.” He’s the type of defenseman who makes the game look easy due to the power and length of his skating stride, his agility in shifting directions, and how positively he uses his stick to disrupt. Normally with players of his size, they still struggle with their stride or maybe they’ve developed poor habits due to how easily they’ve used their size in the past. He doesn’t show any of those worries for me. Logan has great pressure reads and has multiple ways to escape that pressure and start attacking the other way. He’s well deserving of a jump to the top defender in our rankings.
Ollie Josephson – Forward, South Island Royals U18
Playing for Pacific Coast Academy last season, you’d often find Ollie making highlight-reel rush plays end to end which certainly makes for good video. However, it was the summer showcases and tournaments where I wanted to see how his power and puck control through the neutral zone translates when he had peers who had the talent to play with him in flow. He showed that his bursts of speed in straight lines currently outmatch 99% of the defenders trying to keep him down. He can burst and slice into the middle of the ice with a level of power that is hard to find in this draft class for a Centerman. With power though comes great responsibility. You’ll find him consistently backchecking and being able to shut down some of the top players quite easily and turning the play around to his wingers. Simply put, Ollie has attributes that can break a game open.
Seth Tansem – Defenseman, Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna U18
I was immediately impressed by the way Seth can manage the flow of a game both ways. He has the quickness and speed to be able to puck carry through the middle and explode around the edges. I’ve seen him finish plays off in spaces with elevation and accuracy while moving with speed. I’ve watched him continuously scan the zone for pressure reads so he can make the most positive outlet pass at the proper timing to his forwards. His feel for momentum and the flow of play is what you’d love to see from players at this age. Having that innate sense of movement while being able to maneuver and pass in flow is such an incredible asset from the backend. The details to his positioning and adjustments while defending the rush are top notch too. From Western Canada, he isn’t the biggest or fastest but at this point, he might be the smartest and most detailed. That means a heck of a lot.
Teddy Stiga – Forward, Boston Jr. Eagles 16U
Teddy is the prototypical example of a player who has high-level skill habits formed and is just waiting for his physical maturity to let him dominate. It was easy to see how talented he was as he set the pace and tempo for the Boston Jr Eagles. As his summer moved along, he was able to play alongside other talented players and show that his talent is diverse, shows consistent impact from both C and the wing, and can immediately impact games with the power, fluidity, and speed of his skating stride. He is beginning to put together high-level puck control attributes at top speed and that could unlock so much potential for this budding star. He is worthy of a rise in our rankings and showcased just how dangerous he can be at the US Selection Camp.
Cole Longacre – Defense, Windy City Storm 15U
Here we have another great example of how well-rounded attributes can lead to such success. His skating stride is long, strong, and agile. He is able to dictate plays off the rush, pinch into the zone, win puck battles along the boards, force players to the outside with his length and reach, and pretty much control the pace and flow of the game the way you’d like a number one to do. Cole led his team in defensive scoring at the World Youth Championships alongside talented players like Thomas Zocco and Joey Macrina. He took that success into the US Selection camp and looked just as impressive. He should be a name that gets mentioned more and more. His numbers might be eye popping on a strong Windy City Storm U15 team.
Kristian Epperson – Forward, Shattuck St. Mary’s 15U
It can be quite difficult to discern the true potential of a player when they are on a star-studded team like Shattuck St. Mary’s. It was quite eye-opening to see Kristian on the ice for Team Orange at the US Selection camp and to see how he stacked up on his own team as well as with diverse and split up competition. He rose to the occasion and was often the best player on the ice. He finished with seven goals in four games due to his growing and dominating power and speed capabilities. I think now that some of the other top-end forwards have made higher programs in the Shattuck world, Kristian can become one of the leading scorers for their U15 squad. It is your world now Kristian.