There were 131 selection made during Monday’s USHL Phase I (formerly Futures Draft) with an impressive number of those picks coming out of Midget Minor programs in the New York Metropolitan Area. One program that stood out amongst the rest were the Long Island Gulls who had seven players selected through the eight-round draft. Divided into two parts, we'll take a look at how the first three rounds played out first.
Leading the way for the Gulls were left-handed defenseman, Simon Butala (8th overall, Madison Capitols) and winger Dante Palecco (15th overall, Muskegon Lumberjacks).
Butala is a highly-regarded defenseman coming out of the Gulls system and already has an NCAA commitment to the University of Maine. He is one of the top local midget minor players that I had the pleasure of seeing this year. Butala checks in at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, giving him good size that he is willing to use in his own end when attempting to take his opposition off the puck. The 15-year-old blueliner (he'll turn 16 in August) is tough to beat one-on-one and he does a good job keeping pace with his opposition to contain them.
Butala logged plenty of ice-time each game for the Gulls and was one of their most reliable blueliners. Butala has strong mobility to go along with his size, and he has a sense for the offensive side of things. One of his biggest assets on offense is his powerful shot, he just needs to work on his accuracy. Butala is a player that can make a decent impact in his rookie season with the new Madison club.
Muskegon’s pick is not a stranger to the public as most have heard of the high scoring forward, Dante Palecco. Potting 34 goals in only 24 games this season, putting him well over a goal per game, it's no secret that one of Palecco's biggest assets is his ability to find the net. He won’t blow you away with his skill set but he is very efficient and consistent with his ability to contribute on the scoresheet.
He competes hard and uses his speed to get in on the forecheck and pursue the puck. He has a quick, net-seeking wrist-shot that he can score with coming off the wing or down the middle. Paleccoalso has the ability to sneak into position around the net for scoring opportunities. A Yale commit, Palecco was drafted prematurely in 2013 by Des Moines, but his USHL career will take place in Muskegon where he will have a familiar face to play alongside in highly regarded Grant Jozefek, who went early in the 2013 Future’s Draft (7th overall to Muskegon).
At 19th overall, third pick in round 2, Tri-City took big winger Sam Sternschein (Cornell) who scored at a goal-per-game pace with 19 goals in 19 contests with the Long Island Gulls. Sternschein is a highly-skilled winger, who has the ability to take over a game with his power and skill. He has a rocket of a shot, and uses his body to make him a difficult player to take off the puck.
The one major issue with Sternschein is his consistency. If he isn’t dominating a game you might be hard pressed to notice him on the ice as he becomes a difficult player to read. His consistency issues could be the cause for him being left off the US National Development invite list, as well as him going undrafted at the OHL Draft. Sternschein has high upside, but he needs to find balance to his game.
In round three the 2014 AYHL Championship rivals; Long Island and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, saw forwards go back-to-back, as Gulls forward Evan Wisocky was taken by Madison at 39 and was quickly followed by Jr. Knight’s winger Vladislav Dzhioshvili, who was taken by Bloomington at 40.
Wisocky totaled 16-20-36 in 18 games for the Gulls this season. Wisocky is a quick, brisk skater who generates speed with the puck. Like Palecco, he won’t necessarily blow you away, but Wisocky has a strong sense for where to be for the puck and where to place it. He has a powerful, accurate wrist-shot, as well as the ability to get to the net and tap home rebounds or redirections. Wisocky is hard-working on the ice, and his defensive game is developing.
Dzhioshvili was one of the more exciting players to watch this season. He matched Palecco’s goal total of 34 on the season, but Vladislav came ahead in point totals with 63 in 26 games. He doesn’t have the most explosive first steps, but when he gets going he plays a shifty, east-west game with the puck. He has the ability to open up major space for himself with the puck thanks to his silky, quick hands and elusive ability. Dzhioshvili has a lethal shot and the ability to elude the defense and find space alone near the net for backdoor feeds. Dzhioshvili has the ability to create chances for his linemates, but projects as a goal-scorer. Where he struggles at times is his compete-level and structure.
Tags: Simon Butala | Dante Palecco | Sam Sternschein | 2016 nhl draft prospects | Evan Wisocky |
|1. C Sam Reinhart||Kootenay Ice|
|2. D Aaron Ekblad||Barrie Colts|
|3. C Michael Dal Colle||Oshawa Generals|
|4. C Leon Draisaitl||Prince Albert Raiders|
|5. C William Nylander||Rogle|
|6. LW Nick Ritchie||Peterborough Petes|
|7. D Haydn Fleury||Red Deer Rebels|
|8. D Roland McKeown||Kingston Frontenacs|
|9. LW Sam Bennett||Kingston Frontenacs|
|10. C Jared McCann||Soo Greyhounds|