Here's a quick-hitter on the who's who of 2010 draft prospects from New England. I may follow up with writeups on kids who aren't New England natives but who play in the region, but for now, we'll forcus on the locals.
And, you can read more detailed writeups of these guys if you can get your hands on a copy of the June, 2010 Draft Preview issue of New England Hockey Journal.
Charlie Coyle, RW South Shore (EJHL)
I've waffled between Coyle and Kevin Hayes all year as to who is the better prospect in the class, but in the end, I keep going back to the fact that the Boston University-bound Coyle may not quite have the size and skill/upside of Hayes, but he's a more complete player at this stage of their development. He's more physical and from what I've seen, more willing to go out and do the dirty work and initiate contact, whereas Hayes plays more of a finesse game. I like both players, but when projecting who will likely be the better pro, I have to go with Coyle.
He's a bit of a lumbering skater in his first few strides, but once he gets going, he's fine. He has a nice array of shots and goes hard to the net. Along with Chris Wagner, Coyle and the rest of the Kings offense gave opponents fits last season.
Kevin Hayes, LW Noble & Greenough (HIGH- MA)
I don't want people to get the wrong impression on Hayes-- this is a really solid kid and prospect. He's got size, speed and skill. The Dorchester native also put up some bigtime numbers at Nobles last season. There appears to be quite a bit of interest in him in the late first-round, which makes sense given that he has the most upside of any of the New England draft-eligibles this season. Now, for the bad news: I think he's very much a work in progress, so any team picking him will need to be in it for the long haul. He has accelerated so he can be on Chestnut Hill next season, which helps his stock at the draft, but he's got to get stronger and show more of a willingness to play in the greasy areas of the rink. He reminds me a lot of what I was hearing about Joe Colborne two years ago: very big and very talented, but needing to show more commitment in all areas of his game.
One thing I've heard is that he's more skilled than his older brother (and Toronto '08 second-rounder) Jimmy, but not as gritty and physical. If he can add a little bit of Jimmy's sandpaper to his game, I think he'll become a pretty big name in prospect circles because he doesn't lack for talent.
Connor Brickley, LW Des Moines (USHL)
'Little Brick' is Andy Brickley's second cousin and an interesting prospect because he seems to be entering the draft with his stock really rising up. I'd say a lot of that has to do with the fact that he had a solid 20+ goal season in the USHL and is coming off a gold medal with the Team USA under-18 squad, where he played his tenacious, big-hitting role to perfection. He's a good skater who may not have the greatest hands or natural finishing skills, but makes the most of his talent and creates problems for opponents when he's going all out. A relentless forechecker who anticipates the play extremely well, he seems to always be in position to lay the big hits and separate the puck carrier from the biscuit to create turnovers.
I really, really like this kid. He could've stayed at Belmont Hill and smoked everyone, but he recognized that he needed to play at a higher level to help disinguish himself from some of his peers, so he left home and played well enough to earn time in several big international competitions. He's not the biggest guy out there, nor is he the most skilled...but you always know he's there. Someone will grab him sooner rather than later. Second round may be a tad soon, but early third is not a bad spot for him.
Billy Arnold, LW U.S. NTDP (USHL)
This is another guy who deserves a lot of credit for getting out of the comfort zone of what would have been a crazy scoring fest with Hayes at Nobles. Instead, Arnold went out to Ann Arbor and the U.S. Under-18 team where he overcame a slow start and was one of Team USA's most consistent forwards from February on through the under-18 tourney in April. He doesn't have a lot of height, but he's well-built and strong, very strong on his skates and the puck. He works the play nicely coming out of the corners and can pick the corners. Arnold is a real opportunist around the net. He's shifty and smart-- he diagrams the play and then gets where he needs to go in order to make something happen. He's got to stay diligent on his conditioning. He began the season not in the proper shape and although he got there, it's just something he's going to have to pay attention to going forward. NHL teams are getting more and more stern about off-ice conditioning of their players and if you have any questions, just talk to Bruins prospect Jordan Knackstedt, who found that out the hard way last fall at Boston training camp.
Arnold is probably not going to go as high as Central has him, but you never know. He's going to a very good program at Boston College, and I just really like his mental makeup and approach to the game. I think he's gotten a bum rap in some circles, but the kid is a winner and he's going to prove it down the road.
Brian Billett, G NH Jr. Monarchs (EJHL)
Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report says that the EJHL Goalie of the Year is the most underrated player in the 2010 draft and I have to agree. All this guy did was win, and demonstrate a big-game ability. But you know, try as I did to find NHL folks who believed in him like I and a few others did, I wasn't so successful. I hope Billett gets some vindication on draft day, I really do. Because he's one of these people who is a serious competitor and who plays hard and is well respected by his teammates. It takes a special kind of goalie to win as many games as Billett did and post the excellent numbers without facing a lot of shots. My big fear is that Billett will be like The Gunnery's Alex Vazzano last year and get passed over, but whereas Central had Vazzano high on their list and apparently none of the NHL's 30 teams did, Billett did not make it into Central's top-30 in their final rankings. That's an oversight in my opinion. He'd be a good pick in the late third/fourth rounds, but I'll be happy if he goes 5th/6th/7th to be honest. He deserves to get picked.
Mike Pereira, LW Avon Old Farms (HIGH- CT)
If speed kills, then you're looking at the best skater of all the New England draft-eligibles, a guy who elevated his game when it mattered most and led Avon to the prep title last March. You talk about a net opportunitst, and Pereira is it. He'll quietly circle around and then explode onto the puck and bury it into the back of the twine in the blink of an eye. I can't tell you how impressed I was with his performance in the playoffs-- he was that good. He's lean and raw, and will need some good seasoning and coaching from Toot Cahoon at UMass-Amherst, but I really like him as one of those long-term project players with a lot of upside.
Chris Wagner, C South Shore (EJHL)
Small but skilled, productive and gritty center made a statement after getting passed over last year. This guy can play some hockey-- I watched him singlehandedly dismantle the Green Mountain Glades in the first game of the playoffs, registering two goals and an assist in the first five minutes of action to say "Goodnight, Irene!" just like that. He was tenacious, opportunistic and when the puck was on his stick, he didn't flub it. Apparently, he was like that all season, because Wagner set an EJHL single-season record for scoring with 83 points in 44 games. He's gotten stronger, and although he's not going to an elite program at Colgate, he's one of those players who could fly under the radar a bit. The Bruins brought him in for a visit, so he's at least attracted their attention. Not surprising, though- 83 points in any league will do that for you.
Tommy O'Regan, C St. Sebastian's (HIGH-MA)
I saw this guy in the winter and he impressed me with his skating and real ability to dangle and create offense on his own. Apparently, he didn't have a lot of help on the Arrows this year, so O'Regan was forced to do a lot by himself, which can be tough for any player. He's got very nice puck skills and has an offensive acumen that will be welcome at Harvard in 2011. That said, I'm told compete levels were up and down and he went through a rough stretch in the middle of the year before surging and finishing strong. His dad was an NHL player, so he's got the bloodlines.
Garnet Hathaway, C Phillips Andover (HIGH-MA)
Real character/hear-and-soul center doesn't have tremendous skills or a projectable offensive element in the pros, but he's going to give you all he has and then some. He's got size and skates well, always moves his feet and plays with a lot of energy. Hands and offensive instincts are not what they need to be, but he's headed for Brown and could surprise. He's a late-round guy if he gets drafted, but could work his way into the mix down the road as a free agent if he gets passed over. A coach's dream.
Luke Curadi, D Penticton (BCHL)
The Monster from Cheshire, Conn. was passed over last year, but my guess is that someone will take a chance on the 6-6, 250-pound blueliner after he went out west and played at a higher level. This is one tough kid-- and he plays as nasty as his vitals make him out to be. He's a pretty decent straight-line skater, but his footwork and lateral agility need a lot of work. He hits to hurt and can fight...oh, can he fight. He was recruited to RPI in 2011 by then-assistant Jim Montgomery and will join Montgomery in Dubuque with the expansion Fighting Saints of the USHL next season. They don't come much more raw than this kid, but NHL teams are always looking for legitimate size and toughness-- he's got that in spades.
Cody Ferriero, F Governor's Academy (HIGH- MA)
Arguably the most skilled player of all the New England prospects, he also lacks size and some scouts aren't impressed with the attitude and character. If you're watching him in action, the speed and hands jump out at you, but he also lacks discipline at critical moments and will take bad/selfish penalties. If a team believes that it's jsut a maturity thing and that he can be brought to heel, he'll be drafted just like his older brother Benn was, but I've been told about some red flags with him, so it will probably be later.
Mike Reardon, D Noble &Greenough (HIGH- MA)
Underrated d-man has good mobility and is a smart player who often gets overlooked in the New England class. He's not a spectacular defender, but he gets the job done. Red Line Report had him listed in their "mid-round sleepers worth a look" section and he could be a player that some NHL team has targeted late in the draft because he does have some long-term potential.
Other New Englanders in the mix for the draft and ranked by Central: Brian Ward, Brandon McNally, Jacob Rutt, Derek Deblois ('91), Mike Seward.
Not ranked by Central: Danny Federico, Nick Lovejoy, Peter McIntyre, Pat Mullane ('90), Brandon Russo. Nick Thompson, Steven Whitney ('91), Jared Wiedemann, Colby Drost