Hard to believe how quickly this season is going, as the NCAA is almost entering the playoffs already. But before the college boys get at it, the prep ranks will gun for titles. As mentioned last week, the Minnesota high schoolers are in their sectional playoffs, while the New England prep schoolers kick things off this week. There’s a lot to cover before the NHL draft in Philadelphia, so let’s look at some of the prospects we’re excited to see in the pros one day.
Josh Jacobs, D – Indiana Ice (USHL)
Jacobs has all the attributes you could ask for in a modern-day defenseman. The kid is already 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, he plays at both ends of the rink and he can move.
“I think my skating is very good,” he said. “I have a big, long stride and I can switch up from backwards skating pretty quickly.”
In his second season with the Ice, Jacobs has helped Indiana to the top of the Eastern Conference standings in the United States League. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a franchise that finished dead-last the previous campaign and along with an influx of talent (NHL draft picks Brian Pinho and Aidan Muir; Penn State commits Scott Conway and Denis Smirnov), the team is also playing its first full season under coach-GM Jeff Brown, the former NHL defenseman.
“You just need to buy into Coach Brown’s system,” Jacobs said. “It’s like a brotherhood. You push yourself in practice to the limit and that helps us develop as a team.”
And the head office hasn’t rested, recently acquiring 2014 draft prospect Ryan Mantha from Sioux City. Jacobs and Mantha both grew up just north of Detroit.
“Ryan’s a good friend of mine,” Jacobs said. “I’ve played against him my whole life. He’s a great teammate.”
The pair don’t usually skate together in Indiana, but did win a title for Team USA at the World Jr. A Challenge earlier in the season. And while they’ll both be wearing green in college, they will be split up again: Mantha’s heading to North Dakota while Jacobs will bring his skills to Michigan State.
“I felt very comfortable there,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, that was my dream school.”
And the Spartans are lucky to have Jacobs coming in. Draft eligible in 2014.
Michael Dal Colle, LW – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Dal Colle outduelled fellow high draft prospect Sam Bennett on the weekend as the Gens beat up on Kingston 7-2. The big left winger with loads of offensive talent had three points on the night and now ranks third in the league with 35 goals and 87 points in 60 games. Draft eligible in 2014.
Dylan Malmquist, C – Edina Hornets (Minn. HS)
The Hornets are on to the sectional final thanks to an 8-2 dismantling of Prior Lake and Malmquist led the way with a goal and three points. The Notre Dame commit has nice hands and vision and makes tight passes around the net, but must work on his consistency. Draft eligible in 2014.
Adam Ollas Mattsson, D – Djurgarden (Swe.)
A big, competitive blueliner, Ollas Mattsson comes in at 6-foot-3, 211 pounds already. Mobility is a work in progress, but the defenseman makes a good first pass and is playing up with Djurgarden’s men’s team in the Allsvenskan and playing on some good pairings. Draft eligible in 2014.
Warren Foegele, LW – Saint Andrew’s College Saints (Ont. HS)
A raw project who has been compared to Mark Jankowski due to his off-the-radar team affiliation, Foegele helped the Saints win the Midwest Prep League title on the weekend, beating Stanstead College – Jankowski’s alma mater – along the way. Foegele was 5-foot-8 in his OHL draft year, is up to 6-foot-1 now and will likely get even taller. Incredible skater is committed to the University of New Hampshire. Draft eligible in 2014.
Philippe Desrosiers, G – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Desrosiers set a Quebec League record last week, going 243:35 without surrendering a goal. The calm, athletic netminder recorded three shutouts in that span and held a tough Blainville-Boisbriand squad to one goal in his last outing, giving him seven wins in a row. Drafted 54th overall by Dallas in 2013.
Jaedon Descheneau, RW – Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Most of the attention in Kootenay has focused on Sam Reinhart this year, but talk to scouts and they’ll tell you his linemate is also one to watch. Descheneau was passed over last season and his 5-foot-9 frame didn’t help his cause, but the kid is a boon for Reinhart and has 38 goals and 86 points through 60 games. Draft eligible in 2014 (undrafted in 2013).
Nick Shore, C – Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
The rookie pro had a tough start finding the net in the beginning, but Shore has found his footing in Manchester. The smart pivot has five points in his past six games, including a two-goal effort in a win over Worcester. Drafted 82nd overall by Los Angeles in 2011.
Jordan Schmaltz, D – University of North Dakota (NCHC)
The slick, puck-moving defenseman has been on a solid run for UND lately, tallying six points in his past six games. Schmaltz has added 12 pounds to his frame since coming to Grand Forks, which was an important remedy for his early lankiness. Drafted 25th overall by St. Louis in 2012.
Dominik Masin, D – Slavia Prague (Cze.)
A defensively staunch blueliner who can also put up some numbers at the other end, Masin has two goals and 18 points through 32 games in the Czech junior league. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder has been a captain internationally and plays a responsible game. Draft eligible in 2014.
Josh Jacobs photo courtesy of Whiteshark photography.