Boston High School: NHL Draft

Nolan Vesey didn’t know what to expect from draft weekend. He’d tuned in Saturday to the second day of the NHL Draft to see if his friends from the area had been selected.

Then, he got a Twitter follower from someone who described himself as a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I couldn’t refresh my computer fast enough,” said Vesey, a product of Austin Preparatory School who spent last year with the South Shore Kings.

When his computer eventually caught up, he learned that he’d been taken by the Maple Leafs with the 158th overall selection.

Vesey, whose older brother Jimmy was drafted by Nashville during the third round in 2012, will skate at the University of Maine next season. But the North Reading resident was not among the NHL Central Scouting’s ranked skaters for the 2014 draft class, although he’d scored 26 goals with 40 assists in 48 games in the USPHL last year.

“I came into this year, just trying to get ready for Maine,” Vesey told ESPN Boston Saturday. “I had a really good year there. I talked to a couple teams throughout the year but honestly I didn’t have my hopes up too high.”

Vesey had talked to scouts from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, in addition to the Maple Leafs, earlier in the year, but hadn’t heard anything in the weeks leading up to draft weekend.

“My brother [Jimmy] told me, if it happens it’s great, if not, I’m still going to college and it can still work out,” Vesey said of the prospects of being selected.

Vesey, who is the son of former Boston Bruin Jimmy Vesey, scored 21 goals and added 13 assists for Austin Prep during his senior year in 2012-13 and considered playing in the USHL before moving on to the Kings this year. Now, he’s waiting for the call to join the Maple Leafs’ development camp, which he believe will be next weekend.

“Like every hockey player, I wanted to get bigger, faster, stronger,” Vesey said of his goals entering last season. “I think I accomplished those things, but it’s just the start. This is just the next step and you’re just trying to build on that.”

Barnstable's Willman took long road to Sabres

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28

PHILADELPHIA – Max Willman almost gave up playing hockey last spring after the conclusion of his high school career at Barnstable High School.

Good thing he didn’t. On Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres selected Willman in the fifth round of the NHL Draft. It was the ultimate reward for a year’s worth of hard work and dedication to getting better, but it all might not have happened had it not been for communication with a prep school coach.

Williston-Northampton head coach Derek Cunha presented Willman with the opportunity to play a post-grad year at his school and entry into some prestigious summer showcase events, including the Beantown Classic.

[+] EnlargeMax Willman
Courtesy Jeff Cox Former Barnstable standout Max Willman nearly gave up hockey before landing at Williston-Northampton for a postgraduate year. On Saturday, he answered questions in Philadelphia after being selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL draft.
“Coach Cunha gave me a chance. He put me in some summer tournaments and I took advantage of it,” explained Willman. “It’s overwhelming and exciting. It’s definitely a dream come true. Hard work pays off.”

“One thing he did was he made the most of every opportunity along the way,” Cunha said. “Starting with summer showcases last summer, midget hockey in the fall and then with us during the prep season, he got better and better.”

It’s the ultimate success story. Willman was ready to just head to Quinnipiac University as a regular student like many of his fellow graduates from Barnstable. Instead, he took Cunha up on the offer to play prep school hockey.

“When I graduated from Barnstable, I didn’t have very many options. I was looking to go to Quinnipiac as a student,” said Willman.

A year later, Willman has secured an offer to play college hockey at Brown University and is now a prospect in the Sabres’ system, as the organization attempts to rebuild.

“Some kids level out, but Max keeps getting better. He has a lot more potential for growth,” said Cunha, a Nobles & Greenough grad, who played college hockey at Holy Cross.

It wasn’t that Willman wasn’t a good hockey player when he skated for head coach Scott Nickerson at Barnstable. It was a matter of exposure.

“Exposure is a big thing. Not many [scouts] come down to the Cape to watch public school hockey,” Willman said.

Willman isn’t the flashiest player fans will ever watch, but he is the type of player who just gets the job done. He is tenacious and brings the play to his opposition.

“I have good vision and can see the ice well. I try to make my linemates around me better,” said Willman when describing his game.

He is a versatile scorer that can find the back of the net in many different ways.

"He can beat defensemen one-on-one, shoot and score from the perimeter or bowl his way towards the net," said Cunha. "He really dictates the play. He forces the play and makes defensemen worried about him."

Willman will join a strong recruiting class at Brown that also includes two other locals selected in the 2014 NHL Draft: Deerfield’s Sam Lafferty and Kimball Union’s Tyler Bird.

“It’s definitely exciting with the incoming class. I played with Sam [Lafferty] last summer and fall and played against him in prep school,” said Willman, who was also looking at Providence, Union, Holy Cross and Army.

Perhaps most importantly, in the minds of the Sabres’ brass, Willman is a character guy who will give his all every shift and be respected by his teammates.

“He’s a character guy, he’s a great kid,” Sabres General Manager Tim Murray said. “He’s the type of kid you want to marry your daughter. He’s a smart kid going to Brown.

“Every scout on our staff all said he was a good hockey player. There wasn’t one guy who said he wasn’t sure on this kid. I like unanimous decisions.”

Another unanimous decision around Philadelphia was that Max Willman was one of true feel good stories of the draft.

Locals selected in NHL Draft

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
Here are a list of New England area players who have been selected in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Players born in New England are listed in bold:

Round 2:
36. Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College - Vancouver
56. Ryan Donato, C, Dexter School - Boston
57. Johnathan MacLeod, D, U.S.A. U-18 (USHL) - Tampa Bay

Round 3:
70. Miles Gendron, D, Rivers School - Ottawa
88. Beau Starrett, C/LW, South Shore Kings (Catholic Memorial) - Chicago

Round 4:
100. Shane Eiserman, C/LW, Dubuque (St. John's Prep) - Ottawa
113. Sam Lafferty, C/LW, Deerfield Academy - Pittsburgh

Round 5:
121. Max Willman, C, Williston-Northampton (Barnstable) - Buffalo

130. Liam Coughlin, C/LW, Vernon - BCHL (Catholic Memorial) - Edmonton
137. Tyler Bird, RW, Kimball Union (St. John's Prep) - Columbus

Round 6:
152. J.D. Dudek, C, Kimball Union - New Jersey
158. Nolan Vesey, LW, South Shore Kings (Austin Prep) - Toronto

Round 7:
185. Cam Darcy, C, Cape Breton - QMJHL (Northeastern/ South Boston, Mass.) - Tampa Bay

Ice Hockey

The NHL Draft kicks off tonight in Philadelphia and there are more than a dozen New England-bred skaters who are hoping to hear their names called during the two-day event.

Last year’s local draft class was exceptionally deep, with 12 New England-born players at the secondary or junior level coming off the board.

Before getting the scouts’ takes on this year’s class, here’s a look at the locals that made the NHL Central Scouting bureau’s final North American rankings:


45. Shane Eiserman, C/LW, Dubuque (Cushing, St. John’s Prep), 6-1 1/2, 200

58. Ryan Donato, C, Dexter, 6-0 1/4, 174

74. Miles Gendron, D, Rivers, 6-1 1/2, 181

79. Beau Starrett, C/LW, South Shore (Catholic Memorial), 6-4 1/2, 197

109. J.D. Dudek, C, Kimball Union, 5-11, 1/4, 180

116. Max Willman, C, Williston-Northampton (Barnstable), 5-11, 181

117. Tyler Bird, RW, Kimball Union (St. John’s Prep), 6-1 1/2, 200

119. Bobo Carpenter, C, Sioux City (Austin Prep), 5-10, 183

147. Jonathan Barry, D, Thayer Academy, 6-1, 192

177. Billy Sweezey, D, Noble & Greenough (Archbishop Williams), 6-0 1/4, 192

184. Sam Lafferty, C/LW, Deerfield Academy, 6-0 1/2, 187

203. J.C. Brassard, D, Noble & Greenough, 5-10, 190


14. Joey Daccord, Cushing (North Andover), 6-2, 199

In advance of the draft, we sampled the views of a couple of NHL amateur scouts based in the area and their evaluations of the aforementioned prospects.

Shane Eiserman
One scout’s take: “He’s a heavy body and he plays a heavy, physical game. He finishes his checks and he’s got a mean streak in him. He plays with an edge. He’s a good skater and he gets around the ice well – especially in a straight line. I think he projects a third-line winger, who can provide some secondary scoring.”

Scout’s need to improve: Scoring touch.

Ryan Donato
One scout’s take: “He has really high-end skills: great hands, super soft hands, great vision in offensive zone. So obviously that’s when he’s most dangerous, when he has the puck, you have to keep your head on a swivel. He has a great shot and the ability to thread a pass into a tight area.”

Scout’s need to improve: Skating.

Miles Gendron
One scout’s take: “He’s an interesting player because he’s a forward-turned-defenseman. He’s a kid that still needs time to learn the position, but he’s heading to UConn and he’s going to get great coaching from Mike Cavanaugh and Mike Souza – they’ve got big plans for him. He’s probably the most dynamic skater in the East – a great stride, fluid, long and thin with great balance. He’s a one-man breakout.”

Scout’s need to improve: Net-front defending.

Max Willman
One scout’s take: “I think he’s a kid that played at a lower level and was underrated for a while but he’s really coming on strong. I think he had a great year last year and he’s headed to Brown, so he’s maybe a bit of a wild card, just from perspective of taking the skill set that he has, and you can see it, and applying that to the next level. You might be taking a bit of a chance, but you’re getting a guy that has some really nice skill, can pass the puck as good as anyone and can shoot the puck well.”

Scout’s need to improve: Can he carve out role outside of top six skilled forward?

Bobo Carpenter
One scout’s take: “I don’t think he’s a natural goal-scorer, but he has an unbelievable shot, shoots a heavy puck. He’s good on the power play and he’ll be utilized there. He’s a very tough competitor and loves to finish checks. He’s always going as hard as he can to the whistle. He loves to the play in the role of a bottom six forward, and he can fit in there because he loves to finish checks and get those dirty, greasy goals. He’s going to a good place, a good school [BU] and I think he did fairly well in the USHL at the end of the season when he was there.”

Scout’s need to improve: Skating.

Joey Daccord
One scout’s take: “He’s a very technical goaltender. He handles the puck well and he’s good with his stick, he can move the puck like a college player. He’s very technical. He’s got good size, good height, a long, rangy kid. He just has to get a little more consistent with his play.”

Scout’s need to improve: Game-to-game consistency.

Fitzgerald on Bruins: 'A great honor'

July, 1, 2013
Ryan Fitzgerald became the second generation of his family drafted into the NHL Sunday night, when he was selected by his hometown Bruins in the fourth round (120th overall).

Following in his father’s footsteps (Tom Fitzgerald was drafted by the New York Islanders in the first round in 1986), the Boston College-bound North Reading native realized a childhood dream, joining the team his father finished his NHL career with in 2006. He also got to share the moment with his dad, who was working the Pittsburgh Penguins’ draft table in his capacity as the team’s assistant general manager.

The family connections don’t stop there. His uncle, Scott, is the Bruins assistant director of amateur scouting, so it truly was a family affair.

Fitzgerald, who skated last year with the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, graduated from Malden Catholic and, while skating with the Lancers, was part of back-to-back MIAA Super 8 tournament championship teams in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

We caught up with Fitzgerald Monday morning to get the wrap on his draft night experience:

On waiting to hear his name called: “It’s a long night. I was sitting there with my brother, Casey, and his friend, Andrew Brandano (player at St. John’s Prep). My dad was on pin and needles all night, definitely a little nerve-wracking for him. He stayed on the floor the first round, and then came up to sit with us for the second, third, fourth rounds. When it finally happened, it was a big sigh of relief for him.”

On whether he knew Bruins would be destination: “With my uncle, I’m pretty familiar with organization. It’s a team that I talked to a lot during the process. I thought they might be a team that was interested in me. I met with them at the draft combine and met with a bunch of their local guys. I came out and trained with them one time, so I knew they were interested. My uncle told me they had a close eye on me. It’s really a great honor.”

On the draft day experience: “When you walk into the rink, it’s amazing. You’ve seen it on TV, but it’s completely different in person. It’s just a great atmosphere. You wouldn’t think that it’d be that rowdy at a draft, but the fans show up and they get into it. It’s great.”

On what his brother, Casey (also a BC commit), means to him: “He’s been great. He’s a great brother and he was really supportive through everything. He always is. His draft is coming up soon, so he got to sit back and take it all in. I’ll be there for him when he goes through it, too.”

On which team he was rooting for in Eastern Conference final: “You’re always a Bruins fan, growing up here, but you’re a part of the Pittsburgh family with my dad working for them. But when they played the Bruins, it was a stressful time in the Fitzgerald house. After the Bruins won, it was tough, but we wanted the Bruins to win [the Cup] because of my uncle. We were rooting for the team and for him to win it.”

Locals selected in NHL Draft

June, 30, 2013
The NHL Draft is underway at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. and we'll keep you up-to-date on the local scene with our Draft tracker.

We'll update this entry as New England skaters come off the board. Also, make sure to follow High Schools co-editor Scott Barboza on Twitter (@espnscottb) for updates and analysis.

Players selected:

33. Tampa Bay -- Adam Erne, LW, Quebec (QMJHL), North Branford, Conn.

61. Washington -- Zach Sanford, LW, Middlesex Islanders (EJHL), Auburn, N.H., Pinkerton Academy.

74. Chicago -- John Hayden, C, U.S. NTDP (USHL), Greenwich, Conn.

100. New Jersey -- Miles Wood, LW, Noble & Greenough, Manchester, Mass.

119. Pittsburgh -- Ryan Segalla, D, Salisbury School, Hanover, Mass.

120. Boston -- Ryan Fitzgerald, C, Valley Junior Warriors, North Reading, Mass., Malden Catholic.

143. Buffalo -- Anthony Florentino, D, South Kent/Selects, West Roxbury, Mass., Xaverian Brothers.

150. Boston -- Wiley Sherman, D, Hotchkiss School, Greenwich, Conn.


157. Calgary -- Tim Harrison, RW, Dexter School, Duxbury, Mass.

161. Ottawa -- Chris LeBlanc, RW, South Shore Kings (EJHL), Wintrhop, Mass., Winthrop H.S.

162. Philadelphia -- Merrick Madsen, G, Proctor Academy.

174. Washington -- Brian Pinho, C, St. John's Prep, North Andover, Mass.

Scouts dish on local NHL Draft class

June, 29, 2013
The NHL Draft commences Sunday in Newark, N.J., and there is a crop of New England-raised players hoping to hear their name called.

So we took the task to the Northeast regional scouts of an Eastern and a Western Conference team to give their evaluations of some of the region’s best and brightest.

So here’s a look at some of the local skaters to watch out for and their scouting evaluation heading into the Draft:

(Editor’s note: Players appear by NHL Central Scouting rankings among North American skaters.)

Ryan Fitzgerald, C, Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL)
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 170 lbs.
Hometown: North Reading, Mass. (Malden Catholic H.S.)
College commitment: Boston College
Central Scouting final ranking: 56

Scout's take: “He has tremendous hockey sense, with great vision and quick hands. He’s an undersized player, but has tremendous balance and is solid on the puck. He thinks the game at a high level.”

Zach Sanford, LW, Middlesex Islanders (EJHL)
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hometown: Auburn, N.H. (Pinkerton Academy)
College commitment: Boston College
Central Scouting final ranking: 60

Scout's take: “He’s still very raw and a little unpolished, but he’s got the frame. He’s rangy and you know he has some weight to put on. He’s can play a pretty physical game, but he has to add to his frame. He had a tough start to the season in the E.J., but then averaged a point per game down the stretch.”

Anthony Florentino, D, South Kent / Selects
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: West Roxbury, Mass. (Xaverian Brothers)
College commitment: Providence College
Central Scouting final ranking: 75
Scout's Take: “He’s the top [defensive] prospect in the draft locally. He’s got a heavy shot and skates well. Plus, you get a four-year projection on him as a true freshman headed to college. He’s got a chance. He’s the youngest of four boys, so he’s been pushed around a bit and that’s made him tough to play against. He’s gone a little under the radar.”

Jason Salvaggio, C/LW, South Kent / Selects / Indiana Ice (USHL)
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hometown: Hanson, Mass. (Xaverian Brothers)
College: UNH
Central Scouting final ranking: 97

Scout's Take: “He’s got a little edge to his game. Good hands, good shot. His size is OK, but big enough to play. I think the question is whether he can process the game at a high level. I think UNH will help him. He has skill and can skate, but can he process when it’s moving really fast?”

Wiley Sherman, D, Hotchkiss School
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 210 lbs.
Hometown: Greenwich, Conn.
College: Harvard
Central Scouting final ranking: 104

Scout's Take: “He’s obviously a big frame at 6-6, and hecan defend. He’s an excellent skater for someone so tall. He has a great base and foundation to play on. Has a little meanness, too, and he’ll do whatever has to to protect the house. I think of him along the lines of a Hal Gill.”

Brian Pinho, C, St. John’s Prep
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 171 lbs.
Hometown: North Andover, Mass.
College: Providence College
Central Scouting final ranking: 109

Scout's Take: “He’s an excellent skater, a natural skater and a high-energy guy. I think he projects as a good energy line guy, a good solid two-way player.”

Ryan Segalla, D, Salisbury School
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 194 lbs.
Hometown: Hanover, Mass.
College: UConn
Central Scouting final ranking: 169

Scout's Take: “He has an over-the-top compete level. It’s second to none for kids around New England. He might play a little out of control at time, but he’s very strong, extremely physical. He’s tenacious.”

Shane Starrett, G, South Kent / Selects
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Hometown: Bellingham, Mass. (Catholic Memorial)
College: Boston University
Central Scouting final goaltenders ranking: 15

Scout's Take: “Goalies are hard to predict, it’s the one [position] that’s probably hardest to predict. He’s got the size to play — the way goaltenders are going now. The only question is the level of hockey that he’s played at.”
Ahead of this weekend's NHL Draft, one of the top-rated New England area draft-eligible skaters gave his college commitment, as Avon Old Farms (Conn.) center Nick Hutchinson selected Northeastern, Winged Beavers head coach John Gardner confirmed to ESPN Boston Tuesday night.

"Nick is a talented forward with good hands and a real committed player who is passionate about the game of hockey," Gardner said. "When he fills out physically, he has the potential to be an excellent pro player."

Hutchinson's year of commitment has not yet been announced.

The Hicksville, N.Y. resident was ranked 94th among North American skaters on the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings ahead of Sunday's Draft. It marked a significant gain from Central's midterm rankings, when Hutchinson was ranked 133rd. Hutchinson had 12 goals and 26 assists in 29 games last season for Avon.

The Winged Beavers were NEPSAC Martin-Earl division finalists in 2012-13, losing in a 1-0 decision against Cushing Academy.
Kimball Union Academy's Doyle Somerby was one of the more intriguing New England prospects in this year's NHL Draft Class.

The Marblehead, Mass. native started his high school career at St. Mary's of Lynn and, during his time with the Spartans, began the transition from playing forward to defense.

A rugged, 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, Somberby transferred to the Meriden, New Hampshire school for his sophomore season and continued his journey toward his professional dream.

That goal got a little closer to reality on Saturday as Somerby was selected by the New York Islanders in the fifth round (125th overall) in the NHL Draft.

"It's funny, [the Islanders were the first team I met with back in January," Somerby said in a phone interview from Pittsburgh. "But I only heard from them once more through the process, so it wasn't a surprise, but you're not really sure where you're going to end up."

Somerby will not be rushed to the NHL. He'll return for his final season at KUA in the fall (he'd also been drafted into the USHL and QMJHL) before heading off to join a deep class at Boston University in 2013. It's all part of a progression that Somerby's looking to fulfill.

"It was a tough transitition," Somerby said of his move back to the blue line. "It happened so fast. The biggest thing is still working on footwork. I'm a big guy and it took me a while to be comfortable with my body."

Somerby's development has been helped by playing against some of New England's top forwards at KUA, including Nick Roberto (Maine commit) and Niko Rufo (Providence College).

"Being at KUA, we have a bunch of small forwards who buzz around down low in the zone, like Roberto and Rufo," Somerby said. "It's built confidence in me being able to skate against those guys every day in practice."

He also credited his time in Lynn as having an impact on him.

"St. Mary's was great for me, it made me take school work seriously. Going out against the Austin Preps and Malden Catholics of the world and some of the players they had back then, that really helped me watching those players. It was great seeing them making the Super 8 so high last year, too."

While the work in progress continues, Somerby's looking forward to the hard work, with the ultimate pot of gold on the other side -- a chance to break in on Long Island.

"The team's been building with [Jonathan] Tavares and [Kyle] Okposo and they've got some really good defensemen," Somerby said. "I realize I've still got four, five more years to go, but it's exciting to see them buidling, getting the new rink and they have a great bunch of people in the front office. It's exciting to be a part of that."
After a whirlwind Saturday morning, Sam Kurker had one thing on his mind — lunch.

The St. John’s Prep standout was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the second round (56th overall) of the NHL draft. He was in attendance at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center with his family to hear his name called. After meeting with the media, a quick photo session and a meet-greet with new Blues owner Tom Stillman, head coach Ken Hitchcock and staff, the Reading, Mass., native had his first chance of the day to grab some grub.

“It’s been such a crazy day,” Kurker said during a post-lunch phone interview Saturday afternoon.

Kurker wrapped up his senior season with the Eagles as an ESPN Boston MIAA All-State first-teamer, scoring 32 goals with 28 assists for 60 points.

After the season, Kurker’s schedule remained full, fitting in interviews with prospective teams (he said he met with 25 teams) and attending the NHL combine. The 6-foot-2 inch, 210-pound winger called it a “stressful” experience.

“It’s tough,” Kurker said of the pre-draft gauntlet. “Between the combine and all the meetings, it’s tough. I tried to do the best in everything that I did because you want to leave a good impression on the teams.”

So Saturday came with a big sigh of relief.

“Looking at the draft board, you can guess where you might go, but you never know until it happens,” Kurker said. “But I’m very happy where I ended up. I felt most comfortable with St. Louis from the start.”

Kurker first sat down with Blues regional scout Vince Montalbano and then met with the entire staff at the combine.

He was looking forward to meeting some of his new teammates at the Blues' development camp, which will be held in July. But there’s no rest for Kurker. He realizes the process has just begun, and he’s already shifted his attention to joining Jack Parker’s BU Terriers next season.

“Going to BU, the goal is to a win a national title. With all those guys going [in the draft], hopefully we can do that.”

The Terriers had eight recruits taken in this year’s draft, several of whom have local ties, including Brendan Collier, Matt Grzelcyk, Danny O’Regan and Doyle Somerby.

“It’s great because there are a lot of local kids in that group and I think we all bring tough attitudes,” Kurker said. “I’m so excited to get going there.”

B's draft Charlestown's Grzelcyk in 3rd

June, 23, 2012
[+] EnlargeMatthew Grzelcyk
Gregory Shamus/NHLI/Getty ImagesBruins draft pick and Charlestown native Matt Grzelcyk will play at Boston University next season.
After making waves with their first-round pick on Friday night, the Boston Bruins kept things close to home for their third-round selection in the NHL entry draft.

With the 85th overall selection, the Bruins tabbed United States National Team Development Program U-18 (USHL) defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. The 5-foot-9, 171-pound, puck-moving blueliner is a Charlestown, Mass., native who grew up a stone's throw away from the TD Garden.

Being drafted by the Bruins isn't Grzelcyk's only link to the Bruins. His father, John, is a longtime member of the "bull gang" at the Garden.

The 18-year-old will bring his hockey game back to Boston next season when he joins Boston University. Grzelcyk was also a member of the gold medal-winning Team USA squad that claimed its fourth straight title at the IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship in April.

• Here's a snippet of Grzelcyk's reaction to being taken by the hometown team today, courtesy of the Bruins communications staff:

On whether he had any indication from the Bruins that they might draft him: "I met with them, so I mean I kind of had a rough idea, but you know I didn’t really come in with high expectations. So, it’s kind of a shock, but I couldn’t be happier."

On whether 84th was where he hoped and expected to be picked: "Not really, no, to be honest. You know I wasn’t ranked that high, I’m kind of a smaller guy, so it was pretty unexpected, but what can you say, you can’t go wrong."

On going through the draft with so many New England players:
"It’s great to see. I’ve known these kids ever since I was young, so it’s kind of a surreal feeling to be here with them and I’m just happy to share it with them."

On how his time with USA Hockey has helped him develop as a player: "It was probably the best two years of my life, you know I feel like I really needed the development and that’s exactly what I got. Being a part of that gold-medal team was just the best feeling I’ve had in hockey so far and couldn’t be happier that I stayed and had my time there in Ann Arbor."

On whether he’s ready to handle the pressure of playing for his hometown: "Yeah, definitely. I mean obviously there’s going to be a lot of people like my family and stuff, but I’ve always had this dream to play for the Bruins and hopefully that comes true one day."

• Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli touched on Grzelcyk's game earlier this week during his pre-draft conference call with the media. Here's what Chiarelli had to say:
"The Grzelcyk kid’s a very good, mobile defenseman. He’s later on down but he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

• Here's what Bruins director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith had to say on Grzelcyk's selection today:
"Well he’s the type of kid that plays much bigger than he is. He’s got a Bruin mentality. He plays to win; he plays hard; he’s hard to play against; he plays a virtually mistake-free game. His decision-making and his ability to move the puck is second-to-none in this draft. Obviously, it’s a great story that his father has worked at the Garden for [45] years. We brought him in to Boston in particular because we had keen interest in him, and after meeting with him, we just feel that he could be a part of helping us win another Stanley Cup."

Locals taken during Day 2 of NHL Draft

June, 23, 2012
Day 2 of the NHL Draft took place Saturday morning, and while there weren't any locals taken in Friday's first round, a host of New Englanders had their named called in the subsequent rounds.

Here's a rap sheet of those with New England roots who've been taken:

53. Tampa Bay Lightning - Brian Hart, Phillips Exeter, RW
56. St. Louis Blues - Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep, RW
59. New York Rangers - Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, Kent School, C

66. Nashville Predators - Jimmy Vesey, South Shore Kings (Belmont Hill), LW
75. Calgary Flames - Jon Gillies, Indiana Ice (USHL, South Portland, Maine), G
79. Chicago Blackhawks - Chris Calnan, Noble and Greenough, RW
85. Boston Bruins - Matt Grzelcyk, U.S. NTDP (Charlestown, Mass.), D

98. Minnesota Wild - Adam Gilmour, Noble and Greenough, C
106. Ottawa Senators - Tim Boyle, Noble and Greenough, D

125. New York Islanders - Doyle Somerby, Kimball Union (St. Mary's of Lynn), D
136. Ottawa Senators - Robbie Baillargeon, Indiana Ice (USHL, Enfield, Conn. via Cushing Academy), C
138. San Jose Sharks - Danny O'Regan, St. Sebastian's, C

189. Carolina Hurricanes - Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic, LW
The NHL Draft commences tonight in Pittsburgh and there is a host of New England-based high school, prep school and junior league players who hope hear their name called in the next two days.

Sam Kurker
Scott BarbozaMalden Catholic forward and ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey award winner Brendan Collier could be a sleeper in this weekend's NHL draft.
More than 20 local players were represented on the NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings, released in April. So we took the task to the Northeast regional scouts of an Eastern and a Western Conference team to give their evaluations of some of New England’s best and brightest.

The region is moving into somewhat of a renaissance. Folks might like to wax about the good ole days, but there’s plenty of talent to be found around the local ponds right now. That fact was not lost on Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who earlier this week during his annual pre-draft media availability, spoke about this year’s bumper crop.

“It is fairly deep,” Chiarelli said. “It’s the deepest that I’ve seen since I’ve been here and that’s a good sign. It’s a good sign that the registration numbers – usually, it means they’re going up – and obviously the quality of players for the NHL is increasing, too.”

So here’s a look at some of the local skaters to watch out for and their scouting evaluation.

(Players appear by NHL Central Scouting ranking among North American skaters.)

27. Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, Kent School, C
Scout’s take: “He’s an incredible skater, a tall, rangy kid. He’s more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer and finisher, but that’s what his role is, a playmaking-center man. His skating ability is as good or as close to as good as you’ll find in this draft.”

36. Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got great size, a big strong kid. He’s a great straight-line skater up and down the wing. [He’s got a] big, hard shot and she shows a willingness to play in the hard areas in front of the net, in the corners on the wall.”

54. Brian Hart, Phillips Exeter, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got a huge shot. He’s real strong on the wall. He’s a very strong skater, in flight, he can really move.

Scout’s take on his soccer prowess as New Hampshire’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year: “You know that overall athletes usually make the best players in whatever sport they decide on.”

69. Chris Calnan, Noble & Greenough, RW
Scout’s take: “Got better and better as the year went on. He started to play physical and use the body, which I think is everybody was waiting to see. He’s got a bomb of a shot. And he’s got a commitment to BC now, that was nice to see.”

Chiarelli’s take: “I mean there are some good kids in the prep leagues and the Calnan kid’s a good player – a big strong kid – very physically mature, power-forward type.”

76. Danny O'Regan, St. Sebastian's, C
Scout’s take: “He’s a smaller, undersized forward, but plays with a ton of hockey sense. He’s very strong on his skates and plays with a little bit of jam. His intelligence and hockey sense really stick out.”

77. Jimmy Vesey, South Shore Kings/ Belmont Hill, LW
Scout’s take: “The best player in the area. I don’t care where it’s at, 100 points is a 100 points [scored with the Kings last season]. He grew a few inches and he’s just coming into his own. Harvard stole him. BC and BU were sleepwalking on him. He slid through draft last year, but I thought someone would take a shot. Someone’s going to be happy with him this year.”

Chiarelli’s take: “You’ve got in the EJ [Eastern Junior Hockey League], you’ve got the Vesey kid’s a good player. He’s second time through the draft, but very skilled, had a breakout year there, can really make some really good plays with the puck, whether it’s shooting or passing.”

79. Devin Tringale, Lawrence Academy, LW
Scout’s take: “Talk about a vastly underrated player. I think he’s going to go later than he should, but someone’s going to get a steal in this draft. He’s going to be a big asset at Harvard when he gets there.”

88. Frank Vatrano, USA U-18 (East Longmeadow, Mass.), C
Scout’s take: “If you were to put him in the Catholic Conference or prep school hockey, he’s a 50-goal scorer. He’s got an NHL shot right now, he’s got such a quick release. He’s very hard to knock off the puck. He’s become a very good hockey player [with Team USA].”

99. Doyle Somerby, Kimball Union, D
Scout’s take: “He’s got great size, as a forward turned D-man, so he’s a pretty good puck mover. He’s more of a stay-at-home defenseman, but a big, rangy kid. Good smooth stride for a kid his size and good speed in flight.”

101. Adam Gilmour, Noble & Greenough, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got high skill, sets guys up. He’s going to get stronger. He’s a tall lanky kid. He’ll go to BC and that’s his type of game, playing a type of run-and-gun game, he’ll do fine there.”

143. Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic, LW
Scout’s take: “We hear this about him, he’s just a pure hockey player. Goal line to goal line, he works so hard, got a good compete level. I think he’s going to be a great college player. He’s got some potential because he just works so hard.”

Chiarelli’s take: “A couple of interesting one’s, the Collier kid, [he is] kind of under the radar a little bit, but a real gritty kid.”

177. Matthew Grzelcyk, USA U-18 (Charlestown, Mass.), D
Scout’s take: "I love him. His hockey IQ is up there with kids who are taken in the top 15 in the draft. If had to pick one kid to make the right play getting out of the zone, it’s him. He thinks the game. He finds the seams. He’s a hockey player. I think he’ll be running the PP at BU last year. He’s that David Warsofsky, Matt Hunwick type of player.”

Chiarelli’s take: “You’ve got some kids that kind of went to the U.S. Development Program but are from the area. The Grzelcyk kid’s a very good, mobile defenseman. He’s later on down but he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

Locals cracking NHL Draft final rankings

April, 9, 2012
The NHL Central Scouting service released its final rankings of North American skaters and goaltenders ahead of the NHL Draft on Monday.

Here's the list of skaters with local ties who made the cut:

(The full list can be found here)
27 Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, Kent School, 6' 2.75" 184, C
36 Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep, 6' 1.5" 198, RW
54 Brian Hart, Phillips Exeter, 6' 2.0" 216, RW
69 Chris Calnan, Noble & Greenough, 6' 1.75" 188, RW
76 Danny O'Regan, St. Sebastian's, 5' 8.75" 162, C
77 Jimmy Vesey, South Shore Kings (North Reading, Mass.), EJHL, 6' 1.0" 200, LW
79 Devin Tringale, Lawrence Academy, 5'11.5" 186, LW
88 Frank Vatrano, USA U-18 (E. Longmeadow, Mass.) 5' 10.0" 218 ,C
99 Doyle Somerby, Kimball Union, 6' 4.5" 232, D
101 Adam Gilmour, Noble & Greenough, 6' 2.25" 193, RW
103 Alexander Gonye, Deerfield Academy, 6'0.5" 166, LW
108 Matthew Beattie, Phillips Exeter, 6' 3.0" 173, LW
127 Nicholas Bligh, South Shore Kings (Milton, Mass.), EJHL, 5' 11.5" 175, C
132 John Stevens, Salisbury, 6' 1.25" 175, C
134 Cam Darcy, USA U-18 (South Boston), 6' 189, C/RW
143 Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic, 5' 9.0" 168, LW
145 Kevin Duane, Brunswick, 6' 4.0" 219, RW
166 Alex Rauter, Choate-Rosemary Hall, 6' 0.0" 174, LW
177 Matthew Grzelcyk, USA U-18 (Charlestown, Mass.), 5' 9.0" 171, D
208 Tim Boyle, Noble & Greenough, 6' 1.75" 185, D
210 Zachary Pryzbek, Salisbury, 6' 2.75" 199, LW

31 Joseph Young, Boston Advantage AAA (Hanover, Mass.), 6' 1.5" 162
33 Dawson Sprigings, The Gunnery, 5' 11.25" 206

Prep's Colin Blackwell drafted by Sharks

June, 27, 2011
St. John's Prep center Colin Blackwell, ESPN Boston's inaugural Mr. Hockey Award recipient, was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round (194th overall) of the NHL Entry Draft on Saturday.

It came somewhat as a surprise for the Harvard-bound skater.

"I was home watching the draft throughout the day," Blackwell said. "But I was in the other room when I got picked.

"All of a sudden, my girlfriend started screaming from in front of the television, telling me to get in there. It was amazing."

The 5-foot-8, 164-pound forward is slated to play for head coach Ted Donato as a true freshman next year.

In 2010-11, the Eagles captain and North Andover resident led Prep to its first Super Eight tournament final appearance and was named the Catholic Conference’s Most Valuable Player.

Blackwell tallied 33 goals and 33 assists for 66 points and was a +42 during the regular season. He also added seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in five games to lead all scorers in the Division 1A tournament.

In the run-up to the draft, Blackwell had met with the Sharks scouting department for an interview. He said he'd also talked to the L.A. Kings and St. Louis Blues.

"This is the highlight to my high school experience," Blackwell said. "It's such a great honor, but this is the beginning of a new chapter in my life."

Blackwell is not the only local tie on the Sharks' present roster, which also boasts Essex's Benn Ferriero as well as St. John's Prep alum John McCarthy.

"It's great to join an orgiazation like [the Sharks]. It shows that there's talent in New England, in Massachusetts, and we can play."

While reflecting on the achievement of being drafted, Blackwell was only looking ahead.

"This is just the beginning. There's a lot of hard work to put in now [at Harvard]. Getting drafted, this is just one goal, now it's time to move on to the next one."