Last season was a bazaar one in a lot of respects for the hockey world. For players, teams, families and evaluators, everything seemed to change. The efforts that were put in by various leagues and organizations in an attempt to get kids safely back on the ice resulted in spotty viewings and indifference from the players with respect to much of the competition.
As the pandemic began to subside in the spring, the world began to welcome back regular hockey in some capacity, including truncated seasons, summer tournaments, and tryout camps. These events have re-invigorated passion from the players and offered us an opportunity to delve into our player profiles with criticism in an effort to build the most accurate list and library of youth hockey players available.
Our recent calibration of the 2005 list captures performances and their respective evaluations from throughout the summer, offering a focus on the players who we were able to bolster profiles of based on recent viewings, that otherwise would’ve occurred during the regular season.
Charlie Cerrato | USNTDP U17
Previous Rank: 34 New Rank: 25
Cerrato is set to suit up for the USNTDP U17 team next season but where he goes from there is anyone's guess. He’s drafted to the OHL by the London Knights and remains uncommitted to any NCAA program. He’s a highly effective two way forward who plays with urgency, grit, and skill, each when needed most. He’ll be an effective player wherever he ends up.
5 ⭐️ recruit Charlie Cerrato with the filthy OT winner for Honeybaked against the Minnesota Blades. pic.twitter.com/nC0N2fIf6y
— Wagon Hockey (@WagonHockey) September 7, 2020
Tyler Peddle | Drummondville Voltigeurs
Previous Rank: 58 New Rank: 38
Peddle’s selection to the Volts was far from certain even days ahead of the QMJHL draft. The Nova Scotia native had been very quiet about his plans for the future, and as such there was suspicion that he might slip in the draft. He’s a brutish forward who possesses about as lethal of a shot as you could expect from a player his age. He doesn’t waste time releasing it and can do so accurately from bad angles or inconvenient body position.
Bradley Nadeau | TBD
Previous Rank: 80 New Rank: 43
The New Brunswick native slipped significantly in the QMJHL draft after being even quieter than Peddle about his plans for the future. There are rumours that he will be relocating to BC so that he can play in the BCHL prior to joining the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, and eventually commit to Maine as his older brother Josh has. Nadeau is a hyper-skilled offensive player who doesn’t rely on any particular skill. Although he’s not typically as engaged as in the defensive zone, he’s very offensively motivated and his skating, puck handling and shot are all very refined and should enable him to find success at the Jr A level.
Will McDonough | Sioux Falls Stampede
Previous Rank: 116 New Rank: 53
While we weren’t blown away by McDonough’s performance at the USNTDP camp, after being selected by Sioux Falls 2nd overall in the USHL draft, we took notice. A couple of months later, at the Select16s camp is where we also bought in. Despite going pointless throughout the event, McDonough demonstrated the ability to execute intricate puck handling plays at an impressively high pace, while simultaneously planning his next move. His execution of both shooting and distribution plays is subtle, powerful and lightning fast, so much so that with the assistance of a somewhat effective screen, most goalies, or even defenders wouldn't have any chance to react.
Cam Squires | Cape Breton Eagles
Previous Rank: 86 New Rank: 58
The Mount Academy forward possesses a multitude of technical strengths but the aspect of his game that we like most is his patience. With speed to burn, the Cape Breton Eagles draft pick is exceptionally poise when it comes to evaluating his options as opposed to simply executing. He sees the ice very well, and finds himself the time and space to see and take advantage of many opportunities that are available to him. Additionally, he doesn’t compromise durability for technicality, as he’s more than willing to fight around opponents or through them in order to move himself or move the puck.
Mikey Burchill | Dubuque Fighting Saints, Umass Minutemen
Previous Rank: 125 New Rank: 59
Burchill is a personal favourite of mine - he was one of the first players who stood out to me in delving into this class at the 15O Nationals tournament in Texas. He’s a very selfless offensive player who is capable of using his skill and dynamism to gain the offensive zone, but will remain continually aware of his outlets so that he can optimize his teams’ opportunity. He has a strong off-puck two-way game, but has demonstrated very positive consistency in his skill and technical abilities as well.
Matthew Wood | Victoria Grizzlies, University of Connecticut
Previous Rank: 96 New Rank: 85
Christian Kim | Tri-City Storm
Previous Rank: 126 New Rank: 86
The Select 16s camp was truly a coming out party for Christian Kim and an indication to us that it won’t be long before several USHL teams are kicking themselves for not selecting him before Tri-City was able to in the fourth round. While he wasn’t ultimately selected to play for the USA at the Five-Nations Tournament, we would’ve had him there. His skating and edgework in particular has come a long way over the last couple months. His ability to receive less-than-ideal pucks cleanly, and then turn them into optimal plays using his ability to navigate congestion and 360-degree awareness made for one of the most impressive performances of the tournament.
Matis Ouellet | Charlottetown Islanders, Amos Forestiers
Previous Rank: 148 New Rank: 88
Ouellet was a player who we really came to like in our retroactive evaluation of players heading into the 2021 QMJHL Draft. Playing in Amos, Ouellet builds great power in his thighs and gets his butt nice and low for a strong foundational stride. He’s a subtly effective backchecker who exemplifies the value of playing effective and efficient defense to earn offense. He is very capable of receiving bad pucks cleanly while in stride, and executes movement through traffic with the intention of getting there as efficiently as possible. Although it’s been a bit of a rocky season for Ouellet which culminated in a later than expected selection by the Charlottetown Islanders, his future still looks bright.
Cam Briere | Tri-City Storm, University of Omaha Nebraska
Previous Rank: 186 New Rank: 91
Briere is able to find an incredible amount of offensive success by leveraging his speed and timing in particular to execute plays before defenders are capable of intervening. He recognizes opportunities quickly and is able to pair that strength with a surprising amount of power from his first kick to reach those pucks first.
Logan Renkowski | Cedar Rapids Roughriders, Harvard
Previous Rank: 102 New Rank: 92
Renkowski has had an excellent summer overall, and if his recent progression is any indication, he could continue to rise on this list. The Cedar Rapids (USHL) second-round draft pick played last season for the Mid Fairfield Rangers where he was an offensive standout throughout the Nationals tournament. A couple of months later at the Select 16s camp, Renkowski demonstrated rapid development in the form of his skating as well as his general puck handling skill, to supplement his regularly optimal off-puck positioning and awareness. More recently he played for the USA at the Five-Nations tournament in Visp, Switzerland where he continued to show strong development and a high level of engagement.
Drew Fortescue | USNTDP U17, Boston College
Previous Rank: 122 New Rank: 111
Selected to the USNTDP U17 roster, Fortescue earned a bump based on consistency throughout the summer against top-tier competition. Although there are some things that we’d like to see him improve upon, most notably his balance and footwork, he’s a player who has a lot of great tools. Using open ice to his advantage, Fortescue is able to be active and engage in the offensive zone seeing the entire ice surface well, and analyzing his opportunities. In addition, he’s a steady defender of the rush and when pinned in, using his active stick to break up cycles and engage with opponents.
Mateo Rotondi | Drummondville Voltigeurs
Previous Rank: 206 New Rank: 113
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more effective defensive defenseman among this class than Mateo Rotondi. His size and strength are only the beginning of what he has to offer. As a young player he has an extremely mature understanding of how he can impact the game in a positive way using an almost purely conservative approach. His backwards mobility is top-notch and enables him to control his gap and angles in all areas of the ice almost flawlessly. His long-range passing is also quite impressive, enabling him to provide an undervalued contribution to his teams offense.
In addition to the players who made significant jumps in our list, there’ve also been a substantial number of players from this class to find their way on to the list all together. The following players are those who’ve recently debuted among the top 2005-born players in North America.
Christopher Thibodeau | Waterloo Blackhawks
Debuting at: 102
Thibodeau was one of the standout players at the Select 16s camp leveraging his size and skill to battle through heavy traffic while maintaining possession. He’s very nimble and able to move long distances in a short amount of time with large strides in all directions. He exaggerates his movements laterally in an effort to juke out defenders, which has proven to be an effective tactic, opening the ice for him and enabling further offensive momentum. He’s an energetic forechecker who can be effective in a variety of ways.
Slava Tugolukov | Tri-City Americans
Debuting at: 103
Tugolukov was a devastating opponent in nearly every game at the Select 16s tournament. His performances against some of the best American defensemen of this class almost certainly could have earned him a roster spot on the Five Nations team, making it mind-boggling that he wasn’t selected in the USHL draft. He does a very good job manipulating his speed in transition to open up holes in his opponents ranks and attack them. Even at high speeds he exudes an air of composure that enables him to handle the puck intricately and deceptively.
James Reeder | Dubuque Fighting Saints
Debuting at: 107
A very tactical thinker who incorporates elements of both speed and skill into his game, James Reeder has the ability to be one of the better playmakers of this American class outside of the NTDP. The consistency of his offensive pace has been a bit of a damper on his ascension, but when he’s on he’s a very challenging player to defend against and attack against because of his attention to detail and ability to anticipate the movements of his opponents.
Payton Nelson | Tri-City Americans
Debuting at: 109
Tristan Dassylva | Baie Comeau Drakkar
Debuting at: 132
Similar in style to a fellow QMJHL selection, Mateo Rotondi, Dassylva teases a bit more offensive potential, while sacrificing some of the defensive aptitude that Rotondi offers. His positioning away from the puck is highly optimal and intentional for intercepting opponents plays, however, his decision making speed with the puck is what seems to be holding him back a bit. The speed of the QMJHL will undoubtedly challenge him, but considering his good mobility, we think he’ll be able to have success.
Emmanuel Vermette | Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Debuting at: 144
The second-round selection of the Sags in the QMJHL draft has a great blend of technical skills starting with the strength of his full stride, and continual engagement. Although we were forced to pass judgement on him based on a limited draft-year sample size, Vermette seems to have a lot of tools that could give him instantaneous success in the QMJHL, despite what might be indicated by his later selection in the draft.
Other Notable US Players making their debuts:
Other Notable Eastern Canadian Players making their debuts: