Ian Clark On Hockey: Local skaters eye NHL draft
University of New Hampshire sophomore defenseman Brett Pesce, Manchester's Zach Sanford and Proctor Academy goalie Merrick Madsen are all listed in the Central Scouting Bureau final rankings, with Pesce projected as high as a second round pick in some circles.
"It went really well. I did well in the interviews and the fitness test went really well," said Sanford, who grew up in Manchester and lived in Auburn for three years before returning to the Queen City. "It all went better than I expected."
Sanford got off to a slow start with Middlesex, failing to score in his first seven games. But he came on strong to finish with 12 goals and 24 assists in 37 games.
Sanford said he models his game after former UNH star and current Toronto Maple Leaf James van Riemsdyk.
Pesce is ranked No. 40 for North American skaters after completing a solid true freshman season at UNH where he scored a goal and five assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-7 in 38 games.
"He's one of the best defenders I've seen at his draft age in a long, long time," Central Scouting's David Gregory told NHL.com. "He does a great job keeping the puck to the outside and when you think you're by him, he uses his stick and body positioning as well as anybody."
Madsen, 17, is a big goaltender at 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds from California who has committed to Harvard University for the 2014-15 season. He will play with Des Moines in the USHL this fall.
The word on Madsen is that he moves well post-to-post for a big goaltender and is constantly at work on improving his game.
"I'm trying not to think too much about it," Sanford said of the anticipation leading up to the draft. "I'm excited and a little nervous, too. It hasn't all hit me yet."
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.