Twenty names to watch in college hockey’s recruiting season opener – Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — A key date for college hockey recruiting is approaching.
Starting August 1, prospects entering their freshman year of high school can receive scholarship offers and make verbal commitments.
A year ago, UND picked up three matchday one commitments – forward Jayden Perron, defender Jake Livanavage and defender Andrew Strathmann. All three continued their commitments with excellent seasons in the United States Hockey League.
Now, a new group of players will present offers from the best college hockey programs.
Which players do you need to know? Here is a list of 20 of them. This is not necessarily a breakdown of the top 20 players. The roster both mixes top prospects nationally and places more emphasis on traditional recruiting areas for UND and other National College Hockey Conference programs.
1. Macklin Celebrini, Forward, Vancouver, BC: Celebrini, who played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, is widely regarded as the most available prospect. He signed an offer to play with the Chicago Steel in the USHL this season and immediately made an impression at Chicago summer camp, despite being one of the youngest players there. He is expected to be one of the first players to leave the roster in the 2024 NHL Draft, if not the first overall.
2. Danny Nelson, defensive forward, Maple Grove, Minn. : Nelson is an interesting prospect on many levels. For starters, anyone can guess where college teams plan to play it. During prep season, Nelson played defense for Maple Grove and was outstanding, leading the Crimson to the state championship game. After the high school season, he joined the USA Under-17 team and played center. He was excellent there as well and will continue to be a forward for the USA Under-18 team this season. No matter where he plays at the college level, he will be a game changer. His older brother, Henry, is a Notre Dame clerk.
3. Cole Eiserman, forward, Newburyport, Mass. : Eiserman, who played for Shattuck-St. Mary’s last season is one of the most gifted offensive players in this class. Eiserman will play for USA Hockey’s national team development program beginning in the fall.
4. John Whipple, defense, Excelsior, Minn. : Whipple, who will play for the USA Under-17 team this season, is becoming the best defenseman in his class. Whipple played at Shattuck-St. Mary is the last two seasons.
5. James Hagens, Forward, Hauppauge, NY: Hagens led Mount St. Charles Academy’s 15U team with 54 goals and 115 points last season. Mount St. Charles Academy is the same place that developed first-year UND student Owen McLaughlin. Hagens will play for NTDP this season.
6. Keith McInnis, defenseman, Red Deer, Alta. : McInnis is a smooth-skating defenseman who has signed an offer to play with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL. He has similar attributes to Jake Sanderson in the way he plays at both ends of the rink and skates, he just doesn’t quite have Sanderson’s offensive punch. McInnis will play under coach Matt Smaby over the next two years, so he should be able to maximize those abilities.
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7. Sacha Boisvert, forward, Trois-Rivières, Quebec: It’s always remarkable to see the best Canadian talent come to the United States, and Boisvert fits the bill. He is a first-round pick in the QMJHL, but instead signed an offer to play with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Boisvert has spent the past two seasons with Mount St. Charles Academy alongside Hagens.
8. Matthew Frost, forward, Arlington, Virginia: Former UND alternate captain Bryn Chyzyk, now general manager of the Waterloo Black Hawks, made Frost the top pick in the USHL Draft this season. It may be a year before Frost joins Waterloo full time. Frost’s hometown is on the East Coast, but he was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and spent time in Winnipeg.
9. Max Plante, forward, Hermantown, Minnesota: Max’s older brother, Zam, is a Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick and a Minnesota Duluth draft pick. His father, Derek, is a former Minnesota Duluth captain and current Minnesota Duluth associate head coach. All signs point to Max being a Bulldog and he’s considered a top player in college. Max led state champion Hermantown in scoring with 71 points in 31 games.
10. Michael Hage, forward, Mississauga, Ont. : Hage is Chicago’s other sweet signing this year alongside Celebrini. Previous Steel tenders have a good track record: Perron, Livanavage, Adam Fantilli, Ryan Ufko and Robert Mastrosimone.
11. Beckett Hendrickson, forward, Minnetonka, Minnesota: Son of former Minnesota Wild player and longtime Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson, Beckett is one of the few players on the U.S. Under-18 team who couldn’t sign up over the summer. last due to a late birthday.
12. Brendan McMorrow, forward, Lakeville, Minnesota: As a sophomore, McMorrow was a key player on a Benilde-St. Margaret’s team which has won 20 of 21 games at one point in the season. He will now head to the USA Under-17 team.
13. EJ Emery, defence, Surrey, BC: The dual American-Canadian citizen is one of two blue right-handed defensemen heading to the U.S. Under-17 team this fall. Emery played last season with Yale Academy, and before that, the Burnaby Winter Club — a Vancouver-area program that produced recent NCAA stars Kent Johnson and Dante Fabbro.
14. Aidan Park, Forward, Playa Vista, CA: The Green Bay Gamblers nabbed Park, a Californian, with the No. 3 overall pick in the USHL Future Draft this season. Park has amassed over 100 points in each of the past two seasons playing for Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U and 16U teams.
15. Hiroki Gojsic, forward, Langley, BC: The 6-foot-4, 183-pound forward was a second-round pick in the Western Hockey League but kept the door open to NCAA options by committing to play for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL this season. Penticton has been a popular recruiting ground for the UND – and much of the NCHC for that matter.
16. Will Skahan, defense, Woodbury, Minnesota: Skahan, who played for St. Thomas Academy last season, is the son of longtime NHL strength and conditioning coach Sean Skahan. Sean worked at UND for one season as a GM under Dean Blais and assistant coaches Dave Hakstol and Brad Berry before heading to the pros. Will is expected to play for the USA Under-17 team this season.
17. Mac Swanson, Forward, Anchorage: Former UND captain and assistant coach Cary Eades, general manager of the Fargo Force, picked Swanson with a first-round pick in the futures draft this summer. Swanson is the son of Brian Swanson, a Colorado College superstar in the 1990s who was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and went on to play for the Edmonton Oilers and Atlanta Thrashers.
18. Brodie Ziemer, forward, Carver, Minnesota: Ziemer is the younger brother of St. Cloud State defenseman Brady Ziemer, but he has carved out his own path as a forward. He played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and heads to the U.S. Under-17 team this fall.
19. Kristian Epperson, forward, Mequon, Wis.: Epperson, who played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s last season is widely considered Wisconsin’s top 2006-born prospect. He will join the USA Under-17 team in the fall.
20. Diego Buttazoni, forward, Langley, BC: Buttazoni joined the Coquitlam Express for the BCHL playoffs last season and fitted right in, recording three points in seven games as the team’s youngest player. Express expects him to be among the top six forwards this season at the age of 16.