Last year while working as a scout for Atlanta, I saw more than 290 games, a pretty common slate for traveling talent evaluators. While this year my role has changed to that of a draft pundit for ESPN Insider, the road has been a constant, and now I find myself in the midst of a lengthy 10-night, 11-game swing through the Ontario Hockey League.
The tour, which began in Michigan on Oct. 13, will allow eyes-on evaluations for some of the top 2012 draft prospects. We'll be bringing you reports straight from the rinks of the OHL, USHL and NCAA over the next two weeks. And we start the series of breakdowns with a freshman making a strong impression in his first year in Maize and Blue.
Ann Arbor, Oct. 13
St. Lawrence University vs. University of Michigan
After I took a two-hour flight from Prince Edward Island and a five-hour drive from Toronto to Ann Arbor, the hockey kicked off with the 10-3 drubbing of St. Lawrence University by the Michigan Wolverines and top prospect Phil Di Giuseppe. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Wolverines winger did not disappoint and established himself in my mind as a true premium prospect for the next NHL draft. Actually, the sheer number of NHL scouts in attendance alone should have led me to that conclusion.
Anytime you're draft eligible and playing significant minutes as a freshman in college, you're ahead of the curve. Di Giuseppe didn't show any immaturity, despite his age. He appears to be a bit of a combo player who could be a skilled power forward at the next level. He's playing at a great program that can develop him and get him good exposure. Things are lining up well for his draft stock.
To see what Sonier and other NHL scouts think of top prospects in Oshawa, Ottawa, Plymouth and Windsor, you must be an ESPN Insider