Minnesota Gopher Hockey: Four Incoming Freshmen Selected in 2013 NHL Draft

Bruce Bennett

Incoming freshman forwards Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching, and defensemen Tommy Vannelli and Michael Brodzinski all had the honor of having their names called during the 2013 NHL draft as they were selected by four different teams.

The Gophers lost four players early to the pros (five, if you count Mark Alt going "pro" where he'll play in the AHL and eventually an obscure league in Europe. Obviously SO much better than finishing your career at The U. Obviously), and will try to replace them with four kids who could play pro one day too. Tommy Vannelli, Taylor Cammarata, Hudson Fasching and Mike Brodzinski were selected in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, but before they turn pro someday, they'll first wear the Maroon and Gold sweaters of the Minnesota Golden Gophers this fall. They join 11 other Gophers on the current roster (and 191 all-time) who have been drafted in the NHL as they try to defend the MacNaughton Cup win the Big Ten conference title (that's just...well it's just not right for one thing. Weird for another. Sigh...eventually I'll get used to this).

Vannelli (here's WCHB's scouting report) was the first to go on Sunday as the St Louis Blues selected him 47th overall in the second round. He's considered to have strong offensive skills already and a smooth skater, but like most of the Gopher defensemen for the coming season, needs improvement in his own end. The former US NTDP U-18 and Minnetonka Skipper has tons of upside and should be in Don Lucia's top six D-men to start the season.

Cammarata (WCHB profile) went in the third round to the New York Islanders 76th overall (guess Garth Snow doesn't hate Don Lucia's players after all? Maybe?), and Gopher fans may hope to see Taylor in a Minnesota sweater for four years before he goes pro. That's not because of a lack of talent, but a lack of size, as Cammarata is only about 5'6 and maybe a buck sixty with all his gear on. But what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in skill, as the kid has scored at ridiculous levels everywhere he's been, with no better example than last season with Waterloo of the USHL where he racked up 93 points in 59 games (not a typo) on his way to being named league MVP. So yeah, he can score, and that shouldn't stop at The U. The only question really is whether he's a first or second liner (a mighty mite line with Kyle Rau? Come on! How fun would that be?), but he should be incredibly fun to watch.

Fasching (WCHB profile) was once considered a first round lock as a high school freshman and sophomore, but his stock slipped the past two seasons due to a lack of production, and he lasted until the 118th pick in the fourth round where he was selected by the LA Kings. Fasching still has a ton of potential, and is a very good player- you don't play for the US NDPT for two years if you're not- but just hasn't dominated the way a first round pick would. Still, he'll have every opportunity to crack the top 2 lines this fall, as with the loss of former captain Zach Budish and assistant captain Nick Bjugstad to the pro's, the 2013-14 Gophers return a ton of speed and skill up front, but not much in the way of size. At 6'3 and 210, Fasching has the size and skill of your prototypical power forward and would fit well with some of the smaller, faster guys on the team. While they could use someone with his size and skill set, with the amount of firepower returning up front, as well as fellow newcomers like Cammarata and former Minnesota Mr Hockey Justin Kloos (who was also a teammate of Cammrata's last year at Waterloo and finished second in the league in scoring with ONLY 87 points. Only), Fasching will really have to earn it.

Last, but certainly not least, Brodzinski was taken in the fifth round at 141st overall by the San Jose Sharks. He's probably been the least heralded recruit of the incoming group, yet he's a very solid defender with a big shot and poise who can definitely play at the college level. He's not the biggest nor fastest defender out there, but can be counted on to play in all situations. He was 2nd team all USHL and first team all-rookie with Muskegon, and will battle for a spot in the top 6 this fall.

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