The Beanpot tournament commenced on Monday, January 7th. It's an annual D-1 college tournament amongst four of the top programs in the Northeast: Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Harvard University. The tournament spans three games over two weeks and I caught the first two games on Monday. Here are some notes on the NHL and Draft-eligible prospects who took part:
D Danny Biega, Carolina Hurricanes (Harvard University)
Danny Biega has given mixed signals in several viewings this season. Not a great physical specimen by any means, Biega relies on hockey sense and passing ability to generate his value on the ice. He's a very crisp passer, at times putting a little too much zip on his dishes, and has shown solid intelligence. He plays a conservative game when the game is flowing towards the defensive zone, yet will anticipate and jump upif not a little too ofteninto the offensive rush when the play is going the other way. For a 6'0" defender who doesn't show any real positive signs from his physical game aside from good work ethic in traffic, you'd like to see better skating because as of right now I'd grade it as fringe if not below pro-average.
C Charlie Coyle, San Jose Sharks (Boston University)
Charlie Coyle has looked fantastic all season long, both at BU and at the Under-20's with Team USA, but his Beanpot game was somewhat forgettable. Throughout the game, he was constantly turning the puck over, be it by trying to be too cute with the puck, or attempting to drive the puck to the middlewhich he normally succeeds at doingand being knocked off the puck before he even got to the slot area.
C Alexander Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (Harvard University)
While Alexander Killorn doesn't project as anything beyond an average player at the most, as a third round pick in 2007 reaching that level would have to be considered a small victory for the Lightning. Killorn is a fair skater who still requires a little fine tuning with his mechanics, but when he gets moving in a straight-line can flash pro-level ability. While I wouldn't call his puck skills pro-average, he does control the puck fairly well and in a few viewings this year has shown the ability to be a pretty decent heads-up passer. His hockey sense is solid, which when combined with his skating gives Killorn a chance at making the NHL.
LW Chris Kreider, New York Rangers (Boston College)
I've written about Kreider in detail several times this year already, so I'll keep his profile brief so I'm not repeating myself. In the Beanpot game, Kreider showed bursts of explosiveness. He's one of the best prospects in hockey at creating his own chances with his combination of speed, shot and physical attributes. The other parts of his game are questionable, but what he did in this game is what you like to see from a player with poor hockey sense and that was effort along the boards and on the backcheck. His coach even gave Kreider some PK minutes and he was not only effective, but looked good in that situation.
D Patrick Wey, Washington Capitals (Boston College)
While nobody would ever mistake Patrick Wey as a player who is going to put up counting numbers at the next level, he has established himself as a prospect who may have a shot to be a depth defender. His skating and hands are below-average, with latter being well-below, but Wey finds a way to contribute by being smart defensively, making solid passes and using his big frame. He sometimes will be the victim of a poor giveaway every here and there, but that's part of being a 19-year-old defenseman playing at a high competition level and not having the athletic gifts to overcome errors. With his hockey sense, I expect his turnovers will start to lower with time.
D Adam Clendening (Boston University)
Adam Clendening was a consensus first round pick coming into the season, but an underwhelming performance as a freshman at BU has hurt Adam's draft stock. Clendening is going to be picked on his ceiling rather than what he's doing today as despite the point production (which is mainly due to a lot of PP minutes). He has several holes in his game that will make pro teams wary. Unquestionably though, he has top four potential and if you want to do a perfect world projection, he has the puck skills and vision to be a top pairing power play guy. There's a long ways until that point however.
D Jamie Olesiak (Northeastern University)
Between the two games played on Monday, it was hard to find a prospect drafted or undrafted that was more impressive than Jamie Olesiak, whose stock has continued to climb throughout the year. Jamie is a terrific physical specimen who logged a ton of minutes in all situations including the power play. Olesiak showed an advanced defensive game and quickly closed his gaps, using both his stick and frame well to shut down the opposition. He displayed decent passing ability and even jumped up past center ice when he sensed he could become the third man up. His panic threshold with the puck was good and either when he was on or off the puck, everything he did on the ice seemed to be effortless. The only knock on him is his fringe skating ability, but for a 6'5" defender is actually around what you'd expect. He also tended to look away from the puck when he engaged in front of his own net, but that's a nitpicking issue that can be addressed through coaching.
RW Matthew Nieto (Boston University)
One of the top scorers on last year's USA U-18 team, Matthew Nieto, like Clendening and Brandon Saad on that team, is a late birthdate that had to wait until the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He's an above-average skater with good top speed, great edge control and balance. He regularly shows solid playmaking ability on the rush and for a sub 6'0" forward regularly goes along the boards and to the front of the net and plays wells in those areas. Whether or not scouts are going to be impressed enough with the skill level in relation to a physical game with question marks will determine how high Nieto will go.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.