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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

College notes: a few guys you may not be tracking

The NCAA season is off and running (for a few weeks now) and I thought I'd check in with accomplished Red Line Report scout Max Giese on some of the guys he's seen from the 2011 draft class.

First up is North Dakota defenseman Dillon Simpson, who is solidly ranked in that publication's first round right now. The son of former Bruin killer Craig Simpson, he turned down his dad's alma mater Michigan State in favor of the Sioux and Grand Forks.

"He looks pretty good," Giese said of Simpson. "He's real solid, a really smart player. He's fairly mobile with a fair amount of skill, too. I'm looking forward to seeing him more this season so I can get a better read, but I like what I see so far."

Former U.S. NTDP forward Mike Mersch, who is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, has some promise, but is much more of a project that Simpson is, and as such, will be tabbed a little further down the draft.

"He's intriguing," said Giese. "From the waist up, he's pretty good. He's got a strong, wide upper body, has good hands and is a really smart, two-way player.

"The problem is, he's an awful skater; he's got slow feet, no burst in his stride and despite his good size, gets knocked around. He's a project. He's got the potential to be pretty good a few years down the road, but he's going to take some time to develop and is really going to have to improve the skating."

Giese was not as upbeat about Wisconsin defenseman Frankie Simonelli, a small but mobile player and puck mover. I'll save his comments for a later date, but let's just say that at first glance, Simonelli is a considerable "work in progress."

Giese conceded that it's a tough racket for these freshmen who are physically and emotionally underdeveloped compared to the junior and senior NCAA players they go up against. This can be a tough challenge to overcome for a player in his draft year, so it's the guys who have the benefit of good genes and come into collegiate play bigger and stronger than many of their peers who tend to have more of an immediate impact.

One kid to keep an eye on is RPI blue liner Pat Koudys, an Ontario native and former OHA standout last season (defenseman of the year) who happens to be 6-4 and is pushing 200 pounds. He's a mobile, two-way defenseman who attended the NHL R&D camp back in August and is a topic of intrigue among NHL scouts on the NCAA beat in the east. The Engineers used to be an NHL factory for the ECAC, but haven't produced a lot of big leaguers since the heyday of the mid-80's/early 90's (Adam Oates, Darren Puppa, John Carter, Joe Juneau anyone?) You can bet that with a player with the size and upside of one Koudys (pronounced COW-dice), Troy, NY will be a destination for scouts this season.

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