BROOKINGS, SD They call it “A League of Opportunity” for reason.
On Tuesday morning, the North American Hockey League (NAHL) announced that 15 players in the league had been recognized in the National Hockey League’s (NHL) “Prospects to Watch” list for 2019 draft-eligible players. The list consisted of NHL Central Scouting’s “Preliminary List” with players to watch in North America and Canada.
There are three different lists that the NAHL compromises of “A”, “B” and “C” teams, with players from the major junior hockey leagues around the world. Those lists are sent to NHL team scouts trying to track the top-eligible players entering the 2018-19 season.
Members of the “A” list have been labeled as potential first round picks in the draft. “B” members are listed as possible second or third round candidates. Lastly, the “C” players are labeled as potential fourth, fifth or sixth round picks.
In addition to those lists, the NHL Central Scouting “Players to Watch” list was released on Tuesday as well. This consisted of nine NAHL players who have the potential to end up on the “A”, “B” or “C” teams in the near future.
Among the names on those lists were Brookings Blizzard goaltender McLean Dorr and defenseman Nicklas Andrews.
Dorr, 19, hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is currently in his first season with the Blizzard. He landed on the “Players to Watch List.”
“When I first saw it, I was like, ‘Really?'”, said Dorr. “I thought they were kidding at first. It’s really cool, obviously. But it’s just the start. I want to be higher on that list now.”
Dorr rotates with Jack Caruso as the starting goaltender for the Blizzard. He made his first NAHL start in the Showcase on Sept. 21 in Blaine, MN, against the Maryland Black Bears. He made 31 saves in a 1-0 overtime loss.
Blizzard goaltending coach Rob Liddell has been high on the right-handed catching goaltender since he came to Main Camp back in July. After Dorr allowed just one goal in the entire camp, Liddell knew that Dorr was as legit as they come and he’s destined to be an NHL draft pick.
“Obviously, it’s great for him,” added Liddell. “With this being his first year of junior, to get this kind of validation is awesome. He’s a level headed kid and he’s also not satisfied with just being on the list. He wants to be ranked (A, B, C). It’s not just his size; it’s his fluidity and athleticism,” he continued. “When he’s on, he never looks out of place, so it can look like he’s not trying. His nonchalant, yet athletic style is so reminiscent of pros like Carey Price or John Gibson.”
As for Andrews, he too is in his first season wearing the navy and green in Brookings. The 17-year old from Canton, Michigan received the honors of landing on the “C” list.
“My dad sent me a screenshot of the list to me,” said Andrews. “It’s cool to see my name with some of the other elite players at this level. And it was special coming from my dad because he’s one of the people I look up to. It’s one thing to be on the list, but it’s another to stay on the list. Every day in practice just has to be that much better and hopefully I’ll see my name in June.”
Andrews is currently committed to play NCAA Division-I hockey at Colorado College in 2020.
“He’s a young defenseman trying to adjust to the junior hockey level,” said head coach Moe Mantha. “He works very hard in the weight room and he knows that he needs to get stronger. On the ice, he is so smart and poised out there. He always puts himself in very good positions in practices and it carries over to the games. As an old defenseman, you look at him and you just go ‘Boy, he’s got some nice poise with the puck’. He is a solid two-way defenseman.”
You can see McLean and Nicklas in action at the Larson Ice Center on Friday, October 12, when the Blizzard take on the Austin Bruins. Puck drop is at 7:05 PM, with doors opening at 6 PM. Group tickets are available at the Larson Ice Center box office. A group of 10-49 gets you a ticket for $8/person, with a group of 50 or more at $6/person. Single game tickets are also available at the same location or call 605-592-9114 for more information.