February 8, 2020

January Notebook – Ferrari

Every season, scouts from Future Considerations spend countless hours gathering information on the next wave of NHL talent coming down the pipe. Future Considerations scout Tony Ferrari is no different.

Here is Ferrari’s notebook for January.

Ty Smilanic, C, NTDP, 6-1, 170, 1-20-2002
Lake Superior State University 4 @ NTDP 5 (SO) – January 31, 2020
Smilanic plays an up-tempo game built on speed and puck skills. He was a transition machine through the middle of the ice, often turning defenders inside-out through the neutral zone. He has the ability to dangle the puck as if it were tied to a string on his stick at times. He did an excellent job of fighting through defenders’ physicality and retaining control of the puck. On two separate occasions, the young American split the defenders between the faceoff circles and generated a good chance at the net. Smilanic was an active attacker all game long, showing off his blistering snapshot and booming slap shot on the power play a number of times. His accuracy was a bit off, especially as the game wore on, but the shooting talent is unmistakable. He finished the game with two primary assists as he created opportunities for teammates with regularity and was rewarded for it. His quick feet and agile skating allow him to avoid contact throughout the ice, but he is susceptible to getting stood up if he gets angled off towards the boards. He was blown up once early in this game but it was encouraging to see that the massive hit didn’t change Smilanic’s approach to the game. He definitely needs to get stronger for next season. His defensive game isn’t great but he stays engaged, which helps drive results at the USHL level but was noticeably out of his element against a bigger, stronger college team. Effort isn’t the issue defensively so the hope for his two-way game to improve. He is a high-skill player who has room to improve as inconsistencies from game-to-game still haunt the young American who has also missed time due to injury.

Jake Sanderson, D, NTDP, 6-1, 185, 7-8-2002
Lake Superior State University 4 @ NTDP 5 (SO) – January 31, 2020
Sanderson has cemented himself as the top blueliner on this NTDP squad. His ability to affect the game in a positive way at both ends of the ice is a staple of his game. Sanderson’s play has become more refined over the course of the season, making silly mistakes far less often than last year or even the beginning of this season. He always had the tools that teams covet, such as high-end skating, shot and puck-moving ability, but the young American has become so much more than that as the mental side of his game has developed. He understands when and when not to take chances in the offensive zone and does an excellent job of identifying threats defensively. A small detail to his game that he’s added this year is directing traffic. Whether he’s defending on the rush or with the opposition set up in the zone, Sanderson is communicating to teammates and makings sure they are where they need be. His physicality is average but his skating and stick work makes him a much-improved defender. In the offensive zone, Sanderson shows the ability to make plays with his feet and his stick. He is a very good distributor of the puck and makes crisp passes through traffic, but does seem to force some passes that may not work at the next level. His shot is very good but what makes it more dangerous is his shooting locations. He always seems to creep deeper into the zone, rarely firing a shot from above the circles to ensure that the scoring chance isn’t wasted on a low-percentage shot from the point. Overall, Sanderson’s game has grown more than any other player on the NTDP team and the results are beginning to show.

Brett Berard, RW, NTDP, 5-9, 152, 9-9-2002
Lake Superior State University 4 @ NTDP 5 (SO) – January 31, 2020
Berard is the type of player that you can’t help but notice on the ice for a number of reasons. He is always involved in the play and gets to the net with regularity. He seems to show up on the boxscore almost every game. He also has a very diminutive frame. He doesn’t let this affect the way he plays the game for the most part. He has a very good shot and, because he always finds himself in the slot or around the net front, it becomes even more effective. His skating is above average but not great which is a knock on a player who is so small, but Berard does an excellent job of identifying open space and claiming it for his own. He finished this game with a goal that came from a beautiful feed from Matthew Beniers along the wall to Berard who was attacking the slot from top-down. This is a staple in Berard’s game. He likes to weave in and out of traffic, almost cycling into open space. Due to his fairly average skating, Berard is generally a secondary option in transition as he is effective but doesn’t benefit from being a primary puck carrier. He works hard and finds space to attack with the element of surprise by weaving in and out of traffic. Berard will benefit from waiting a year to go to the NCAA as he will need to get stronger and faster with and without the puck. The NTDP winger isn’t the most effective player defensively. He has an active stick and gets into passing lanes high in the zone but he will likely never be anything more than an average defensive winger. This becomes less of an issue if Berard proves that he can continue producing at the next level when he attends Providence College in the fall of 2021. The NTDP attacking forward has had a very good season to this point and sits just outside of the top-100 on our rankings but with some continued success, he will be hard to deny next time around.

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