College Coaches on Draftees

College coaches assess the game of their players taken in Sunday's NHL Draft.
J.T. Compher (left) and Connor Hurley were two of five college players selected by the Buffalo Sabres.

Coaches comments on selected current and future NCAA players selected in Sunday's NHL Draft:

Michael McCarron - 1st rd., 25th overall, Montreal

Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray:

"First and foremost he has great values and is a good person. He has his priorities in the right place. He’s looking at the big picture, and at times young people only think about tomorrow. It’s a great perspective.

"We measured him at 6-6, 240 pounds, with low body fat. He moves well for a big man and plays a real hard game – he’s got that physical element that you always want with a player of that size. We were somewhat undersized last year but he’ll be a real good fit for us moving forward."

Ian McCoshen - 2nd rd., 31st overall, Florida

Boston College head coach Jerry York:

"Ian has had an excellent three-year run in the USHL, and he’s still just 17. That’s an anomaly in junior hockey today. PK O’Handley has done an excellent job as his coach in Waterloo and we’re excited about what he may bring to our team. He can be a power-play point man, because he shoots and distributes the puck well. His real strength is his defensive ability. He keeps tight gaps and will continue to get stronger. He really has terrific balance to his game on both sides of the puck."

J.T. Compher - 2nd rd., 35th overall, Buffalo

Michigan associate head coach Billy Powers:

"J.T. is a guy who really has a lot of tools. He’s being talked about a lot as a defensive, third-line forward type but there’s some offensive potential there as well, and we think that will flourish in college. We see him as a power play, penalty kill player right from the start, and he’ll manage a line as a center in our top six. He’ll come in a boy and at some point in the next few years we’ll release him as a man."

Steven Santini - 2nd rd., 42nd overall, New Jersey

Boston College head coach Jerry York:

"He and Ian McCoshen are really very similar in size and makeup – they will actually be roommates this fall at BC. Steven is a bit more of a defensive player than Ian. His skating mobility is outstanding and he can make a good first pass out of the zone."

Thomas Vannelli - 2nd rd., 47th overall, St. Louis

Minnesota head coach Don Lucia:

"He’s an outstanding skater who has a very low panic point with the puck on his stick. He has good size, too, and will be able to continue to grow into his frame while he’s here."

Adam Tambellini - 3rd rd., 65th overall, NY Rangers

North Dakota head coach David Hakstol:

"Adam’s entire path has put him in position to succeed. This year, in his first year out of high school, he was a key player on the best team in the BCHL. Now he has the opportunity to step in and contribute with us right away.

"He’s really talented, and the offensive side of his game is outstanding. Where he’s excited to keep working and improving is to become that reliable, responsible two-way forward, and he’s going to be in great position to do that."

Taylor Cammarata - 3rd rd., 76th overall, NY Islanders

Minnesota head coach Don Lucia:

"Taylor has things you can’t teach. He’s got a terrific set of hands, can pass, can create offense. He’s pretty strong right now but it will be interesting to see how far he can come with added work off ice. He’s a guy who will certainly benefit from playing college hockey."

Keaton Thompson - 3rd rd., 87th overall, Anaheim

North Dakota head coach David Hakstol:

"We’ve seen some great things out of him in the two years Keaton has spent with the national program. He’s got some tremendous ability, and we’ll look to him as an important player for us. We’ll work with Keaton to help him become that reliable, important player on a consistent, night-in, night-out basis."

Michael Downing - 4th rd., 97th overall, Florida

Michigan associate head coach Billy Powers:

"Michael is the type of player who will really benefit from the college environment, spending time in the gym and getting one-on-one access to top strength coaches. He’s got a great frame, but he’s a bit skin and bones. Once he adds strength he could be really good. As it is he has some nice snarl to his game to go with that size and a very good stick."

Matt Buckles - 4th rd., 98th overall, Florida

Cornell head coach Mike Schafer:

"He’s a goal scorer, a guy who has scored at every level. We expect that will continue in college, and he’ll be able to develop his understanding of playing within systems. Understanding when to pick your spots and score within a team game can be a challenge, but he’ll embrace it."

Andrew Copp - 4th rd., 107th overall, Winnipeg

Michigan associate head coach Billy Powers:

"Andrew came to us from the NTDP, but he was really a part-time player for them in a way. He was a pretty elite high school quarterback and played football through Thanksgiving, so this was his first year focusing on one sport. We knew he was a character kid who had the ability to play a defensive role, but in the second half he really showed that there’s more to him on the offensive side. He has good puck vision and hockey sense, and he loves to go to the tough areas. He was overlooked last year but we really feel as a staff that a team will be very fortunate to get him this time around."

Hudson Fasching - 4th rd., 118th overall, Los Angeles

Minnesota head coach Don Lucia:

"Hudson is a power forward who has all those characteristics – strength, scoring and an ability to protect the puck. He’s still young, but we hope he can play a prominent role for us right away. We’ll continue to work with him to make sure he’s playing that role of a power forward and using his size to his advantage."

Ryan Fitzgerald - 4th rd., 120th overall, Boston

Boston College head coach Jerry York:

"He’s a player who certainly has the bloodlines you love to see in a hockey player. He makes plays you can’t teach. Beyond that, he has a great grasp of how to play hockey as a team sport. He’ll make everyone else on the ice better. Despite his size, he has a real on-ice strength, and that will keep improving. He’s a good checker as well, especially for someone with his offensive skill."

Tyler Motte - 4th rd., 121st overall, Chicago

Michigan associate head coach Billy Powers:

"Tyler reminds me a lot of Kevin Porter when he was coming out of the USA program. He’s a gifted all-around player who will be involved in special teams and be a key forward for us right from the start. He’s around 5-10, and to make another comparison, he could be like a Carl Hagelin type – he may not wow you with his physical gifts at 18 but in three or four years he could be special."

Luke Johnson - 5th rd., 134th overall, Chicago

North Dakota head coach David Hakstol:

"Luke is a young man who brings steady, high-end offensive ability, and he’s going to have the opportunity to play an important role right away. He’ll grow and develop into a player who we expect will be a good pro prospect. Whether it takes three or four years for him to be ready for the challenge of stepping into the NHL, he’ll have that opportunity with us."

Michael Brodzinski - 5th rd., 141st overall, San Jose

Minnesota head coach Don Lucia:

"Brodzinski has a tremendous shot – that’s the first thing you notice about him. He has a very low panic point with the puck, so we know we’ll be able to put him in positions like the point on the power play. He’ll develop in college; he has to continue to get stronger and work on his defensive game, so he’s as effective from the red line in to our net as he is on the other side of the ice."

Anthony Florentino - 5th rd., 143rd overall, Buffalo

Providence head coach Nate Leaman:

"He’s a big, strong defenseman who is very mobile for his size. We expect him to be an impact guy on the back end for us. He’s a very good passer with a heavy shot. The big thing he will improve upon in college is reading situations, reading the rush, that sort of thing. He was essentially the best player on the ice all the time this year, so he’ll be challenged in college against better competition."

Gage Ausmus - 5th rd., 151st overall, San Jose

North Dakota head coach David Hakstol:

"Gage is a big, physical, stay-at-home defenseman who knows his role and plays it well. He’ll fill out and grow in that role much like [Toronto prospect] Andrew MacWilliam did for us. He won’t replace MacWilliam right away, but he’ll be in the same situations MacWilliam was as a freshman. We love his character as well; he’ll be a captain before his time with us is done."

Wade Murphy - 7th rd., 185th overall, Nashville

North Dakota head coach David Hakstol:

"Wade is a little undersized, so that may be held against him in the draft, but he’s a strong player, a complete player. Despite his size he is a strong player on the ice. Where he has to grow is building into a pro body. He will really benefit from the extra time in the weight room in that regard.

"He reminds me in that way of [Calgary prospect] Corban Knight in that regard. There was a quote about Corban when he was drafted, saying that when this young man is 22 he’ll have the strength to step into the NHL. That’s a bit of what I see in Wade Murphy."

Nolan De Jong - 7th rd., 197th overall, Minnesota

Michigan associate head coach Billy Powers:

"Nolan is similar to Michael Downing in ways, and we’re excited about both of them. He’s a heady player with good offensive instincts and will play a role on the power play for us. He’s an 18-year-old and it will be a transition to adjust to the college game, but as he adds strength to his frame he’s got a lot of potential."

Troy Josephs - 7th rd., 209th overall, Pittsburgh

Clarkson head coach Casey Jones:

"He’s an excellent competitor and an extremely good skater. I think he’s going to have a nice impact for us. His offensive game is growing; he has a lot of room to grow as an offensive player and I think he’ll develop into a really good one for us."


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