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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Colin Sullivan: A Guy You Should Know

Avon Old Farms defenseman Colin Sullivan is considered by many to be the top New England (Founder's League) prep player coming out for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft who is a native of the six-state region.

Guys like Philippe Hudon, Mike McKee and Petr Placek may be considered better NHL prospects, or at the very least, carry a higher profile than Sullivan does, but they aren't from New England. They're all transplanted from elsewhere: Quebec, Ontario and the Czech Republic in their cases. There's also Jamie Oleksiak (Ontario), Adam Clendening (New York) and Matt Nieto (California) who are all making noise in the Hockey East. But none of those guys are native sons of New England.

So, what makes Sullivan the best area option after Mike Paliotta (also a Nutmeg State native, but who left Choate and teammate Hudon to play for the U.S. NTDP)?

Sullivan is an outstanding skater. I mean, really good. I talked to one Eastern Conference NHL scout who was staying at my hotel in Buffalo about him and the first thing he mentioned about Sullivan was the skating. His stride is fluid and he has a quick burst out of the starting blocks. His footwork/pivots/turns are very good and he maintains good balance on his feet when changing direction.

He's currently leading the Winged Beavers in scoring among defenders with three goals and nine points in 13 games thus far, and those stats are nothing to write home about. But to focus on the numbers is to take a diminished view of Sullivan's potential at the next level. First of all, he's getting outstanding coaching from prep legend John Gardner. He's already matched his entire '09-10 output of nine points and only found the back of the net once last season. He essentially played it safe when I watched him, which is fine, but he has the mobility and potential to spread his wings and carry the offense a bit more. He's a bright kid who will be joining Keith Allain at Yale in 2012. Where he plays for 2011-12 is yet to be determined, but he'll try to take his team all the way again this season.

The Milford, Connecticut native is a winner-- his solid play helped Avon to the championship last spring, and while he doesn't have outstanding size (listed at 6-0, 200), his skating chops and potential to be more than the sum of his parts are going to attract some NHL suitors in the spring for sure. He's very good in his own end at the prep level at least and with those wheels, someone will take a chance on him come June.

Now, this space isn't ticketing Sullivan for top-60 consideration, but he does have the solid projection to go as high as the third and at least in the middle rounds. Keep an eye on him.

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