The 2020 NHL Draft began Tuesday night with the first round and will continue on Wednesday with rounds two through seven. The draft is being conducted this year in a virtual format thanks to COVID-19, so there will be no images of players in the stands at one of the arenas as they get drafted. While no Minnesota Golden Gophers recruits will be drafted in the first round this season, there are at least a trio of current/future Gophers who are expected to hear their name called on Wednesday.
Brock Faber—Defenseman—Projected 2nd-3rd Round
Brock Faber is a defenseman from Maple Grove who is a current Gopher freshman. Faber played the past two years with the US development Team in Michigan and will look to step in to a Gopher blue line and contribute right away in November. Faber is a strong two-way defenseman who is rapidly improving his offensive skills. But he is incredibly skilled in the defensive zone. In the Star Tribune’s profile of him Faber was described by his position coach at the USDTP Nick Fohr as “He really prides himself on the ability to defend. He’s one of the top guys I’ve had, if not the top guy, at defending the rush,” said Fohr, who’s been with the NTDP for nine years. “… A lot of that comes back to his ability to skate. He’s such a good skater.”
He’s the 44th-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting Service’s final 2020 ratings. In the Athletic’s most recent 7 round mock draft, hockey prospects guru Corey Pronman has Faber going in the 2nd round with the 54th selection to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Jake Ratzlaff—Defenseman—Projected 5th-7th Round
Jake Ratzlaff is a defenseman from Rosemount who is expected to skip his senior season for the Irish and play for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. Ratzlaff is still trying to determine what his future holds. Ratzlaff committed to the Gopher hockey program two season ago and is a skilled defenseman. However Ratzlaff is also a skilled football player who has scholarship offers from both the Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers. It’s up to him whether he will decide to play hockey or football in college. if it’s hockey he will head to Minnesota in the fall of 2021—-if football, it’s between the Gophers and the Badgers, but he has spoken very well of the Badger program to recruiting sites in the past. So Minnesota fans would prefer he decides to keep his skates on.
Jess Meyers wrote a preview of Ratzlaff’s condundrum earlier in September as he tries to figure out his future. The 6’3 defenseman demonstrates solid straight-line speed for his size. He has a very long reach and can effectively poke pucks away if he extends his body out. Ratzlaff has a hard slapshot and is willing to be an offensive threat. in Cory Pronman’s mock draft Ratzlaff was selected in the 6th round with selection 169 by the Edmointon Oilers. Ratlaff’s draft stock is slipping somewhat just due to the uncertainty of his future. But he also has said that a lot of whether he will choose hockey or football will depend on where he is selected. Hopefully the two align and he decides hockey is his best route to the pro ranks and he stays with the Maroon and Gold.
Joe Miller—Center—Projected 5th to 7th Round
Joe Miller is a center from Minneapolis who finished his junior season at Blake last spring. Miller is expected to play with the Chicago Steel in the USHL this season before signing with the Gophers for the 2021 season. Miller was ranked the #180th North American skater by the Central Scouting Service and in Corny Pronman’s mock draft he was selected #172 in the 6th round by the Chicago Blackhawks.
In Miller’s junior season he lead the Bears to the State Tournament and a third place finish in AA. Miller scored 59 points in 25 regular season games including 25 goals but then blew up in the section and state tournaments recording 21 points in six games. He can put the puck in the net and can be a skilled playmaker as well setting up others.
Jake Boltmann is a defenseman from Edina who is right on the cusp of whether or not he will be drafted on Wednesday. Boltmann split time between Lincoln of the USHL and Edina last season and is expected to do the same in his senior season in 2020-21. Boltmann is ranked the #113th North American skater in the Central Scouting ratings, but his size at just 6’0 and 180 pounds leaves a bit to be desired. Boltman may need to be seen more at the junior level before potentially being drafted a year from now.
We will recap where the potential Gophers are headed later this week.