Monday, May 31, 2010

Post-Draft Team Profiles- Lincoln Stars

The Lincoln Stars had the worst season in team history, posting a 16-36-8 record with a league worst 40 points. The Stars made a controversial coaching change soon after the season, demoting head coach Jimmy McGroaty to "associate head coach" and replacing him with Fargo assistant and former Lincoln assistant coach, Chad Johnson, as the new bench boss for the Stars. Johnson is the brother of Fargo head coach and former Lincoln head coach Steve Johnson, so it will be a fun little sibling rivalry when these two teams meet. Stars had a good draft, and have a good crop of returning young players that could put the Stars right back into contention in the USHL. So follow as I recap the Stars drafts and returning and departing players. So let's start with the Futures Draft...
Futures Draft
Round 1 Selection
Luke Johnson (Grand Forks Central HS) was the Stars first pick of the Futures Draft after selecting Johnson with their last pick of the Entry Draft last year. Johnson is the nephew of Stars head coach Chad Johnson and the son of Fargo head coach Steve Johnson. Going back to Luke, the 5'8" forward from Grand Forks, North Dakota compiled 46 points in 27 games played for Grands Forks Central as a freshman playing on varsity. This, however, was not Johnson's first season on the varsity squad for Grand Forks Central, as he played for them while only in 8th grade, a truly impressive feat. Johnson has had some college interest, and I would expect him to get plenty of offers if he plays in Lincoln within the next few years.

Round 2 Selection
Zach Frye (Missoula Maulers) was Lincoln's second selection in the Futures Draft and the first defenseman taken by the Stars. Frye is a solid 6'0", 175 pounds giving him the size to be ready to play in the USHL and handle the physicality of the league. Frye had a great season in the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NORPAC) statistically, putting up 22 points in 31 games. splitting them evenly with 11 goals and 11 assists. Frye also dropped the gloves last season, and was kicked out of quite a few games for unsportsmanlike and got a few majors for physical plays, totaling up 81 penalty minutes on the season. Frye could be a valuable addition to the Stars as they are pretty weak on defense going into the season.

Round 3 Selection
Brad Hawkinson (Colorado Thunderbirds U16) was one of the forwards I profiled leading up to the draft, and I think the Lincoln Stars made a very solid pick in the third round picking up Hawkinson. Hawkinson is a smooth skater that can turn on the jets when he needs to. Hawkinson has been described by quite a few scouts as having some great hockey IQ. Hawkinson also has a solid set of hands and can shoot the puck with the best of his age group. Quite a few colleges have taken an interest in Hawkinson. Colleges that have shown significant interest in Hawkinson include Boston University, Cornell, Harvard, Denver, Yale, and Northeastern. Stats from last season: 38 GP, 13 G, 13 A, 26 P, 16 PIM.

Round 4 Selection
Cole Martin (Team Illinois U16) was the fourth selection by the Stars, as they continue to try and build up a good crop of future defensive strength. Martin, a 6'0", 165 defenseman out of Arlington, Texas recently finished up his freshman campaign with Team Illinois' U16 squad, where he played 31 games and racked up 16 points, 1 of them a goal, and 15 assists, also adding 36 penalty minutes on the year. With the lack of depth at the blue line for the Stars, I would say anyone that's rights belong to the Stars have a decent chance at making the team. If Martin tries out for the Stars this summer, he could very well make the team, it's just kind of those wait and see deals I suppose.

Round 5 Selection
Max Coatta (Minnetonka HS) was the Stars 5th selection, and the third forward selected by Lincoln in the Futures Draft. As a freshman in high school, Coatta was third in points for Minnetonka during the regular season, showing his talent as one of the youngest guys on the team. Coatta helped his team to the Minnesota State Hockey Championship this past season, where the finished second place after losing the big game to Edina High School on March 3rd. Through the regular season, Coatta had 41 points in 25 games, and was a +37 on the year. During the post-season, Coatta had 4 points in during the section playoffs and 1 point during the State Tournament. I wouldn't expect Coatta to be in Lincoln for a few years still, but I guess the situation will play out.
Round 6 Selection
Dylan Blujus (Buffalo Regals U18) was Lincoln's last pick of the Futures Draft, and one of the guys I profiled going into the drafts, and quite frankly, I'm surprised Blujus fell so far in the draft. The report I have says that Blujus is 6'4", 192 pounds which is huge for a 16 year old, and he could be upwards of 6'6" by the time he is in the USHL. He is a very intriguing player, as he has all that size, but doesn't really play with much of an edge. For a big guy, Blujus is a good skater and is very light on his feet which is a nice little bonus for a big blue liner. Blujus plays more of an offensive game, and he possesses good hands and a well above average shot. Blujus could be a very effective powerplay quarterback in the coming years, he just needs to find a more physical game to compliment his size. Stats from last year: 48 GP, 22 PTS.
Entry Draft
Round 1 Selection
Ben Oskroba (Walpole Express) was the Stars' first pick overall in the 15th slot of the first round. Oskroba is a big, hulking 6'6", 218 pound defenseman. I've heard from multiple sources that Oskroba is a great skater for his size, which you really don't see all that often. Oskroba put up some great stats in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League (AJHL) this past season, posting 17 goals and 13 assists in 42 games played for the Express. Oskroba also racked up 78 penalty minutes in those 42 games. In January, Oskroba committed to play for Bentley University. On May 17th, one day before the Futures Draft, it was announced that Oskroba decommitted from Bentley and then committed to Northeastern University for the 2011 season, meaning he will be in a Stars jersey next year. Photo from mark6mauno.
Round 2 Selection
Chris Casto (Hill-Murray HS) was the second round pick for the Stars, as they try to build a solid blue line for next season. With only one returning defenseman, it was obviously Chad Johnson's staff's focus to build up their defensive strength throughout draft week. Casto will come into the USHL as a 6'1", 205+ pound defenseman, which spells out physical defenseman. In a few reports of Castro, scouts have mentioned him as very good on his feet, and he has good enough speed to not let forwards beat him to the outside. Casto showed great discipline for a player of his type, only getting 22 PIM in 31 games for Hill-Murray. Casto committed to play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth starting in the 2011 season, which means that he will only be in a Stars jersey for one season in the current situation
Round 3 Selection
Josh Bretner (Team Maryland U18) was the third defenseman drafted by the Stars. Bretner broke Lincoln's run of drafting big, bulky defensemen however. Bretner is a '93 birthdate that stands at 5'9", 179 pounds and was used by Team Maryland as a fourth forward last season, posting a 13/61/74 stat line in 64 games last season, also racking up 62 PIM, and he was a +32 in those 64 games. Now, there is some doubt around the USHL community as to whether Bretner can be useful in the USHL, having to adjust to the physicality and speed of the game. But I'm here to tell you that the worries are not justified. With Lincoln's powerplay woes in the past few seasons (14% conversion rate in 09-10, 17.6% in 08-09, and 17.5 in 07-08), a move like this had to be made, and can you imagine a powerplay with Bretner and Blujus?
Round 3 Selection
Austin Hervey (Detroit Central Catholic)  was the Stars' fourth selection and they went for Hervey, a 6'2", 215 forward out of Brighton, Michigan. Hervey is obviously a big guy that can take up space in front of the net, if that is the role the Stars choose to place him in. I'm not too sure what his stats were with Detroit Central Catholic, but apparently they were good enough to land him a spot with the USNTDP U17 squad last season. That means the Stars drafted a guy with USHL experience as Hervey put up 2 points in 11 USHL games last year. The Stars at this point in the draft were probably looking for a guy to fill out some of their top six forwards and maybe a possible winger for the Dzingel-Shine-? line that will probably be the second best line in the league next year, behind Des Moines first line with Tynan and Brickley.
Round 5 Selection
Bryan Sinz (Shattuck-St. Mary's) was the fifth selection by the Stars and the fourth defenseman drafted by Lincoln, in an attempt to try and fill out their blue line situation. Sinz is a 6'0", 200 pound defenseman out of Anchorage, Alaska and is a bulky guy that plays more of a physical game. That said, Sinz did post some offensive production from the blue line, getting 19 points in 50 games, 2 of them goals and 17 of them were assists. As a '92, Sinz will more than likely play two years with Lincoln and could end up being a top pair defenseman for the Stars by the end of his USHL career. As far as I can tell, Sinz doesn't have any colleges interested in him, but if plays solidly at the USHL, I can almost guarantee that will change. The Stars, so far in the draft, have done a nice job building up defensive strength.
Round 6 Selection
Jake Lynes (Team Maryland U18) was the sixth selection by the Stars and this was really their first gutsy pick. This pick was not gutsy in terms of Lynes skill, the 6'3", 175 pound forward out of Ellicott, Maryland put up 109 points in 73 games, 66 goals and 43 assists. The risky factor in this pick is the fact that Lynes signed a tender to play with the Topeka Roadrunners of the NAHL, a Tier II hockey league. Lynes could be a very valuable addition to any team, as a big guy who has the ability to put the puck in the net. I'm not familiar with the way tenders in the NAHL work, so I can't say with complete certainty that Lynes will be in one league or the other, but I think with his skill set, he could definitely do himself quite a few favors if he goes the USHL, if he wants to get some solid college interest.
Round 7 Selection
Lukas Hafner (Marquette Rangers) was the 7th selection by Lincoln, and is the projected back-up for the Stars next season. With Kevin Murdock more than likely returning to the Stars next season, it is expected he will slide back into the Stars' starting goaltender role, a position where he posted a 25-16-5 record with a 2.45 GAA and .913 SV%. Hafner, however, could steal a few starts from Murdock next season, as he posted a 11-6-0 record in 21 appearances with Marquette last year. Hafner also put up a 2.07 GAA with a .938 save percentage. Hafner hasn't committed to a college yet, but quite a few teams have shown interest in bringing him on for the 2011, and playing in Lincoln where he could possibly start 15+ games for the Stars next season, will only increase the interest in him.
Round 8 Selection
Nick Cecere (Alberni Valley Bulldogs) was the fifth defenseman drafted by the Stars, and the coaching staff now has their six defenseman that could be in Lincoln next year. The 6'0", 180 pound defenseman out of Des Moines, Iowa has an added bonus: he has played 31 USHL games. In the 08-09 season, Cecere joined his hometown team, the Des Moines Buccaneers for 31 games, getting 3 assists, 31 PIM, and a -8 +/-. With the Bulldogs of the BCHL, Cecere put up 11 points in 60 games, 2 of them being goals and 9 were assists. Cecere will have to take up an overager spot on the Stars next season if he comes and plays for the Stars before suiting up for the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, who have him listed as either coming in for 2010 or 2011, but more than likely will be in 2011.
Round 9 Selection
Mark MacMillan (Alberni Valley Bulldogs) was the ninth selection by Lincoln, and he was a teammate of Nick Cecere. MacMillan finished second on the Bulldogs in scoring last year, behind his brother, Mitch. In 59 games played this past season, MacMillan gained 80 points, 26 goals, and 54 assists. He was also an even on the +/-, and added 44 PIM on the year. MacMillian probably won't be coming to the Stars, as reported by Yeti over at the Black and Blue Blog. Apparently, MacMillan will join Alberni Valley for the 2010-11 season and play with his teammates. The 6'0", 150 pound forward out of Penticton, British Columbia recently committed to the University of North Dakota for the fall of 2011, so I really doubt that MacMillan will be in a Stars jersey.
Round 10 Selection
Eric Scheid (Blaine HS) was Lincoln's tenth pick and their fourth forward selected in the Entry Draft. In 5'8", 150 pound forward put up some good stats as a senior at Blaine High. All of last year, Scheid put up 55 points, 23 goals and 32 assists, in 30 games played. Scheid helped Blaine through a very tough stretch in the season, where they played St. Thomas Academy (No. 2), Edina (No. 6), Hill-Murray (No.4), Edina again, and finally Minnetonka (No. 1). In that nearly impossible stretch, Scheid had 5 points, including a hat trick against Hill-Murray to propel Blaine to a 6-4 victory. Scheid is a '92, so he will probably be playing juniors next year, and more than likely in Lincoln. However, Scheid is committed to play for Alaska Anchorage starting in 2011, so he will only spend one year with Lincoln. Photo from
Round 15 Selection
Brad Wilhelm (Detroit Central Catholic) was the eleventh pick by the Stars, and is another smaller forward. Central Catholic really doesn't give much info on individual players, so I don't have any statistical information on Wilhelm. I can tell you that Wilhelm is a 5'9", 152 pound forward out of Plymouth, Michigan. If you are in the Detroit area, and have seen Wilhelm play, please feel to leave any info on what type of player he is, and whatever statistical data you may have for him.

Round 16 Selection
Paul LaDue (Grand Forks Central HS) was the twelfth selection of the Stars, and with this pick, Lincoln went back to address the defense, and took Ladue 226th overall. LaDue is a 5'11", 160 pound defenseman out of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and was the teammate of the Stars first pick of the Futures Draft, Luke Johnson. LaDue is a productive offensive defenseman, and he showed that last year for the 24-3 Grand Forks Central Knights. In 27 games played last season as a junior, he gained 35 points. Of those 35 points, 10 were goals and 25 were assists. LaDue is in the mix to become a Lincoln Stars defenseman next year, and if he plays well at tryouts for the Stars, he could very well beat out one of the guys drafted earlier by the Stars.
Round 17 Selection
Thomas Schutt (Minnetonka HS) was the Stars thirteenth pick of the Entry Draft, and with this pick, Lincoln went back to building the forward core by adding Schutt, a 5'11", 171 pound winger out of Chanhassen, Minnesota. Schutt was on the second place Minnetonka team last season, and helped his team out in tournament to get Minnetonka to the championship game, where they lost to Edina 4-2. All season, and into the post-season, Schutt posted 45 points in 31 games, including 2 assists in the championship game. Of those 45 points, 20 were goals and 25 were assists, showing his ability to score and dish out helpers. Schutt has had quite a bit of college attention already, just as a junior in high school. I can't tell you if Schutt will be in a Stars jersey next season, I think we'll have to wait and see how it shakes out at tryouts.
Round 18 Selection
Josh Thorimbert (Kindersley Klippers) was taken in the 256th overall slot by the Stars, and probably could have been drafted much earlier, but he is a Canadian, and was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL in 2007, so it will come down to whether he wants to come and go the college route or stay in Canada and try and make his way to the pros that way. Thorimbert had a great year statistically in the SJHL, posting a 26-14-2-2 record along with a 2.66 GAA with a .917 save percentage in 58 appearances for the Klippers last year. Thorimbert was just a rookie in the SJHL last season, and he posted those great stats. Thorimbert has plenty of college hockey interest, but as you can imagine, colleges are a bit touchy when it comes to a Canadian player maybe coming down to the US. Photo.
Round 19 Selection
Michael McKee (Kent Prep) was the Stars fifteenth pick of the Entry Draft, and as per the usual with prep schools, nothing is available online for McKee. He stands at 6'4", 230 pounds. If you have any information on McKee at all, please leave a comment so I can put something valuable in this article.

Round 20 Selection
Kyle Quick (Avon Old Farms) was the Stars last defenseman drafted, and with this pick they went for an experienced that guy that could come into tryouts and give the young guys a taste of the speed of the USHL and try and make the team himself. In the 08-09 season, Quick played for the St. Louis Bandits of the NAHL, where he picked up 3 goals and 11 assists in 25 games played, and was a +11 on the season. This last season, Quick went to go play for Avon Old Farms where, according to the Black and Blue Blog, he got 3 goals and 21 assists on the season. Quick is committed to Brown University, and will probably start there in 2011, meaning he will only be in juniors for a year, so if he doesn't make the Stars, he might have to go play in the NAHL for another year.
Round 21 Selection
Trevor Gutierrez (Alaska All Stars U18) was the last pick by the Stars in the Entry Draft, and this pick was based on potential. As stated before, Kevin Murdock will be coming back next year to play for Lincoln, so that leaves the three goalies drafted by the Stars in the Entry Draft to battle for the second goalie spot on the roster. Gutierrez put up great stats last season, posting a 15-6-1 record in 22 appearances, and put up a 1.76 GAA and .919 save percentage, which are ridiculous stats, and with him sitting on board with their last pick, the Stars just couldn't resist. As far as I know, Gutierrez hasn't gotten much of any college interest, and if he proves his stats at the Stars tryouts, he could very well make the team as a 16 year old, and could be a very valuable goalie in the years to come if he plays this season.
Probable Returning Players
John McCarron (F)
Sam Alfieri (F)
Tyler Deresky (F)
Brent Tate (F)
Dominik Shine (F)
Chris DelMauro (F)
Ryan Dzingel (F)
Garrett Peterson (F)
Frank Misuraca (D)
Kevin Murdock (G)
Possible Overagers
Josh Berge (F)

Please leave comments, I would love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. Luke Johnson played for Grand Forks Red River not Grand Forks Central in 8th grade. The reason he did is because 8th graders have to play in their own school zone which in Luke's case is Red River.


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