Friday, April 25, 2014

B³ Prospect Watch - Part I

The 2013-14 season ended too soon for all of us, but it's time to look ahead to next season and the players that potentially could make a difference in 2014-15 for the Lincoln Stars.

The purpose of this particular blog article is to highlight a group of younger players the Stars have previously drafted or acquired, and are protected on their affiliate list.

This is the first of two "prospect watch" articles that I will post during the next couple of months, leading up Lincoln's upcoming tryout camp in June of 2014.

Although some of these names might not be familiar to most fans, most the players listed here will likely be playing for Lincoln sometime in the next season or two.  So get familiar with them, because you may see them soon at the IceBox.  In fact, some of the players mentioned below have already worn a Stars uniform.

If you have additional information about any of the players listed below that you would like me to add to the article, or if I have posted inaccurate info, please shoot me an email at lincolnstarshockey@gmail.com.

All fourteen players listed below were included on Lincoln's protected roster, which was released by the USHL this past February.

This is kind of a long article, so make sure you click the "Read more" link below to check it out.


Tye Ausmus ('97) - Defenseman - 5'10", 165 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  Ausmus is a name that should be familiar with most Lincoln Stars fans.  After completing his junior season at East Grand Forks (MN) high school, in which his team won the Minnesota state 1A championship, Ausmus played 7 regular season games with the Stars this past March.  In those seven games, Tye racked up 3 assists and was +1.  Ausmus has a big decision to make this summer.  Does he stay at EGF for his senior season, or does he commit to play for the Lincoln Stars in 2014-15.  Getting Ausmus to report to Lincoln next season would be a big coup for GM Jon Hull and the coaching staff he will soon hire.  Tye's older brother Gage is a defenseman for the University of North Dakota.

Jared Bethune ('97) - Forward - 6'0", 172 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  Like Ausmus, Bethune is another name that should sound familiar for Stars fans.  Before reporting to Lincoln last March, Bethune was one of the top scoring forwards in the state of Minnesota for the Warroad Warriors.  In 28 games for the Warriors, Bethune scored an amazing 91 points (35g, 56a) in his junior season.  Bethune arrived in Lincoln last March after his high school season concluded and scored 5 points (2g, 3a) in six games.  Similar to Ausmus, Bethune will need to soon decide if he plays his senior season in Warroad or does he come to Lincoln.  Jared has already committed to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  Getting Jared to play in Lincoln next season would be HUGE get.  This kid has all the right tools to be a great player.

Miguel Fidler ('96) - Forward - 6'1", 185 pounds - 2013 USHL Entry Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  Fidler just finished up his senior season at Edina High School (MN) where he scored 51 points (20g, 31a) in 32 games.  Fidler led his team to a Minnesota 1AA championship, Edina's second straight state title.  Fidler has been described to me as a kid who will go to the dirty areas of the ice to get goals, and plays with a chip on his shoulder.  Everything I've heard about Fidler from scouts has been very positive, so lets hope he's in a Stars jersey next season.  The NHL has taken an interest in Fidler as he was ranked #133 in the latest central scouting rankings.  He is uncommitted to a college, so if he wants to play hockey in the USHL next season, it will have to be with Lincoln since they hold his rights.  If he reports to Lincoln's tryout camp this June, that will be a good sign.  Miguel's father Mike played 271 games in the NHL.

Colton Fletcher ('97) - Forward - 6'1", 180 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  Colton split time with the Omaha AAA U16 and U18 programs last season.  With the U16's, Colton scored 16 points (6g, 10a) in 28 games played, along with 64 PIM's.  It's with the U18 program that Colton really shined, with 44 points (24g, 20a) in 45 games played.  In those 45 games with the U18's, Fletcher was +24 and accumulated 48 PIM's.  Fletcher is originally from Wasilla, AK which is the same hometown of former Stars forward Matt Friese.  The Omaha AAA hockey program, run by former NHL'er David Wilkie, is an extremely well respected program, so I'm sure Fletcher benefited greatly last season by playing with their U16 and U18 teams.

Michael Floodstrand ('97) - Forward - 5'9", 152 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  Floodstrand was a late addition (after the Stars drafted him) to the NTDP program last year, so he spent the 2013-14 season with the Team USA U17 program.  Floodstrand will likely play the 2014-15 season with Team USA U18 team before going to Harvard University for the 2015-16 season.  So unfortunately, I doubt we will ever see Floodstrand in a Stars uniform.  This is a similar situation that the Stars dealt with a few years ago with forward Sean Malone (who oddly also ended up at Harvard).  Malone was selected by Lincoln in the 2011 Futures Draft, but was a late add to the NTDP program before the 2012-13 season.  It's disappointing that the NTDP program can poach USHL players like that, but I don't fault the player at all for choosing the NTDP.

Corey Hoffman ('96) - Forward - 5'9", 165 pounds - Undrafted
2013-14 stats:  Hoffman started the 2013-14 campaign with the USPHL's Jersey Hitmen before finishing the season with the EHL's New York Bobcats.  In 25 games with the Hitmen, Corey scored 8 points (2g, 6a) in 25 games played.  In 11 game3s with the Bobcats, Hoffman tallied 11 points (6g, 5a).  Hoffman's addition to Lincoln's affiliate roster caught me by surprise since he was never drafted by Lincoln.  This past February when the USHL published the most recent affiliate rosters for every team, Hoffman's name was listed as a protected player by the Stars.  I honestly don't know much about Hoffman, so it will be interesting to see if he's at Lincoln's tryout camp this June.

Tyler Jutting ('97) - Defenseman - 6'4", 190 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures draft pick
2013-14 stats:  In 28 games last season for Mankato West High School (MN), Jutting scored 21 points (5g, 16a) along with 42 PIM's as a sophomore.  Jutting was the only player the Stars selected last year in the Futures draft that did not attend the 2013 tryout camp in Minneapolis.  I very much doubt Jutting will be in Lincoln next season as I would guess he'll finish out his high school career at Mankato West before considering the possibility of junior hockey.  Tyler's father Troy is the assistant coach for the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

Grant Loven ('97) - Forward - 5'10", 165 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures draft pick
2013-14 stats:  Loven, who played on the same East Grad Forks High School squad that Tye Ausmus played on last season, put up an impressive 41 points (15g, 26a) in 31 games as a sophomore.  In the state championship game, Grant scored 4 points (1g, 3a), was +3, and scored the game-winning goal in EGF's 7-3 victory over Hermantown.  Since he's still very young, I assume there's no hurry for Grant to play junior hockey, so I'm guessing he'll be back at East Grand Forks next season.

Joshua Owings ('96) - Defenseman - 6'4", 195 pounds - 2013 USHL Entry draft pick
2013-14 stats:  In 25 games for the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the NAHL last season, Owings had 2 points (both assists), 20 PIM's and was -5.  As one of the youngest players on the Wildcats team last season, Owings doesn't appear that he got a lot of playing time, but the experience of spending the entire season in the NAHL benefited Joshua's development, I'm sure.  Owings was at Lincoln's tryout camp last year and I remember him being a big, lanky stay-at-home defenseman who looked like he could put on some weight.  I'm anxious to see his improvement in person this June if he reports to Lincoln's tryout camp in Minneapolis.

Michael Prapavessis ('96) - Defenseman - 6'1", 170 pounds - 2012 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  Does the last name sound familiar?  Well, it should.  Michael is the younger brother of former Stars defenseman Matt Prapavessis.  Michael is from Oakville, Ontario, Canada and played for the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) last season.  In 47 games for the Patriots, Michael scored 55 points (5g, 50a) and accumulated only one minor penalty.  Just one penalty called against him in 47 games.  Incredible.  26 of his 55 points with the Patriots came on the powerplay, so I assume Michael plays a very similar style to his brother, who was an offensive-minded defenseman, yet solid in his own end.  For his efforts last season, Michael was named OJHL Defenseman of the Year, and Most Gentlemanly Player.  Prapavessis has committed to play college hockey at RPI, but exactly when he starts at RPI is in question.  There's a possibility he may go directly to college from OJHL, or he could come to Lincoln next season.  Like Miguel Fidler, Michael made the latest NHL central scouting list, coming in at #108.  Needless to say, getting Michael to play for the Stars next season would be BIG.

William Scherer ('96) - Defenseman - 5'10", 187 pounds - Undrafted
2013-14 stats:  Scherer is one of three players (the others being Corey Hoffman and John Schuldt) on Lincoln's protected/affiliate roster that wasn't originally drafted by the Stars.  William was a free agent invite at Lincoln's tryout camp in 2012, and performed well enough to both camp all-star games.  At last year's camp, Scherer played well enough to make both camp all-star rosters again.  In 46 games with the Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL) this past season, William scored 6 points (all assists).  Scherer is originally from St. Charles, MO, which happens to be the hometown of former Stars fan favorite, and current Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig.  I think William has a good shot at making Lincoln's roster in 2014-15, assuming he's at Lincoln's tryout camp this June.

John Schuldt ('97) - Defenseman - 6'3", 205 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  John scored 13 points (7g, 6a) in 26 games last season for Minnetonka High School (MN) as a junior.  Minnetonka is the same high school that former Lincoln forwards Tommy Schutt and Vinni Lettieri attended before they played for the Stars.  Schuldt was originally selected by the Sioux Falls Stampede in the 2013 USHL Futures draft, but his rights were traded to Lincoln this past January for forward Tyler Nanne.  I've never seen Schuldt play in person, so I can't really add much about his game.  He obviously has great size for a '97.  He has good hockey bloodlines also as his older brothers Jimmy (Omaha) and Joe (Sioux Falls) both played in the USHL.  I really doubt John is going to leave Minnetonka to play his senior season in Lincoln, but I'm hoping he's a guy the Stars can bring in for 2015-16.

Angus Scott ('97) - Forward - 6'2", 205 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  In 44 games for the Notre Dame Hounds (Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League) last season, Angus put up an impressive 64 points (21g, 43a) to go along with 50 PIM's.  After completing his season with the Hounds, Angus got a very small taste of the USHL when he was called by the Stars and played three games in March.  In those three contests, Angus scored 1 point (assist) and was -1.  The native of Salt Lake City, UT should be at Lincoln's tryout camp again this June fighting for a spot on next season's roster.

August von Ungern-Sternberg ('97) - Forward - 5'11", 170 pounds - 2013 USHL Futures Draft pick
2013-14 stats:  The kid with the greatest name in hockey started the 2013-14 season with the Idaho Jr. Steelheads (WSHL) where he tallied 20 points (8g, 12a) in 19 games.  August decided to leave the Jr. Steelheads after 19 games and finished the season with the Omaha AAA U16 squad.  In 31 games for the U16's, August scored 33 points (10g, 23a) along with 29 PIM's and was +23.  August was a player that had a lot of people talking after his performance at the 2013 Lincoln Stars tryout camp.  I happened to run into August and his dad during a lunch break at last year's camp, and I came away extremely impressed with him after chatting him up.  He's got a good head on his shoulders and comes across as very mature for his young age.  I really think August is ready to make the jump to the USHL next season.  August has committed to play college hockey at Brown University.

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