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NHL Central Scouting releases 2022 midterm rankings

By Peter Odney , 01/12/22, 7:00PM CST


16 Minnesotans find their name among the 228 listed North American skaters, along with two goaltenders among the top North American netminders.

Nine players from MSHSL rosters among the 18 Minnesotans listed

The NHL Central Scouting Midterm rankings were revealed on Wednesday, and 16 Minnesotans found their names among the 228 listed North American skaters, with three of those skaters listed under the heading “Limited Viewing.”

Among those 16 players, nine are playing for Minnesota State High School League teams, with seven performing among the National Team Development Program’s Under-18 team, the United States Hockey League, and the North American Hockey League. Two Minnesota-born goaltenders, Hobie Hedquist and Croix Kochendorfer, are listed among the top North American goaltenders. 

Since the high school players are reasonably well known, the following capsules will focus on the Minnesota products that have taken their talents elsewhere. 

Included in that set of players will be a trio from the NTDP U-18 team, who all share the ice with the No. 2 North American skater Logan Cooley. Cooley comes in behind overall No. 1 Shane Wright of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, widely viewed as a generational prospect. Wright is one of just five players in Canadian Hockey League history to earn exceptional status, allowing them to play in the league as 15-year olds. The other players that earned exceptional status are John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Joe Veleno.

Rounding out the top-five North American skaters are third-ranked Matt Savoie, fourth-ranked Conor Geekie, and No. 5 Pavel Mintyukov. Savoie and Geekie both play for the Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg Ice, while Mintyukov plays for the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. 

Isaac Howard is ranked No. 12 among North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting.

Jimmy Snuggerud 
Hometown: Chaska, Minn. 
2021-2022 Team: USNTDP Under-18

Snuggerud is a former Chaska/Chanhassen Youth Hockey Association and Chaska High School standout who opted to jump to the National Team Development Program after his freshman season. 

Snuggerud has already eclipsed last season’s scoring total of 46 points with 16 goals and 47 points in 43 games this season. 

Snuggerud is committed to Minnesota. 

Isaac Howard 
Hometown: Hudson, Wis. 
2021-2022 Team: USNTDP Under-18 

Technically a Wisconsin native, Howard has played in Minnesota programming for the vast majority of his hockey career, including a two-year stint at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault. 

Committed to Minnesota Duluth, Howard is a two-year member of the NTDP, and currently has 16 goals and 49 points in 43 games played this season. 

An offensive weapon with a good shot and soft hands, Sportsnet has Howard is ranked as high as No. 4 among North American skaters.

Ryan Chesley 
Hometown: Mahtomedi, Minn. 
2021-2022 Team: USNTDP Under-18 

Long-considered one of the top defensemen in his age group, Chesley has done little to change that billing in his two years in Plymouth. 

At 6-foot, 194 pounds, Chesley is a quality skater that plays a virtually mistake-free game in all three zones. 

A Minnesota commit, Chesley has totaled 10 points for the NTDP this season, and is +23 in his time with the national program.

Cottage Grove native Nick Pierre has nine goals and 15 points this season for Sioux City.

Tyler Haskins 
Hometown: Rochester, Minn. 
2021-2022 Team: Madison Capitols (USHL) 

Haskins is a Rochester product that chose the Tier I round around his Peewee age, skating for the Chicago Mission for four seasons before moving on to the USHL. 

Haskins has six goals and 20 points in 21 games played for the Capitols, which ranks eighth among Capitols players. 

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound forward is committed to Michigan. 

Gavin O’Connell 
Hometown: Wayzata, Minn. 
2021-2022 Team: Waterloo Blackhawks

O’Connell recorded 52 points in two seasons with the Wazyata varsity before transitioning to the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks for the 2021-2022 season. 

At 6-foot, 181 pounds, O’Connell is a gritty player that doesn’t shy away from physical contact and is at his best low in the offensive zone. He has a pair of goals and 11 total points through 29 games for the Blackhawks, and is committed to Minnesota Duluth for the 2023-2024 season.

Nick Pierre
Hometown: Cottage Grove, Minn. 
2021-2022 Team: Sioux City Muskteteers (USHL)

After racking up 25 goals and 34 assists for Hill-Murray during the 2019-2020 season, Pierre jumped to the USHL, where he's laced his skates for the past two seasons in Sioux City. 

He appeared in 23 games last year for the Musketeers with a limited role, but has tallied nine goals and 15 points through 29 games this season.

Pierre is committed to Wisconsin.   

Aaron Pionk
Hometown: Hermantown, Minn. 
2021-2022 Team: Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL) 

Pionk wrapped up his prep career last season with a Class A State Tournament appearance with the Hermantown Hawks, and has spent this season with the NAHL’s Minnesota Wilderness in a significant role. 

At 6-foot-2, Pionk has a solid reach and an offensive side to his game, evidenced by his six goals and 19 points in 34 games for the Wilderness. 

Pionk is the younger brother of current Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.  

Gavin O'Connell has seen action in 29 games this season for the Waterloo Blackhawks.

Minnesotans Listed Among NHLCS North American Skaters

NHLCS Rank Player Hometown 2021-2022 Team
8 Jimmy Snuggerud Chaska, Minn. NTDP18
12 Isaac Howard Hudson, Wis. NTDP18
22 Ryan Chesley Mahtomedi, Minn. NTDP18
26 Sam Rinzel Chaska, Minn. Chaska High School
40 Zam Plante Hermantown, Minn. Hermantown High School
69 Alex Bump Prior Lake, Minn. Prior Lake High School
82 Tristan Sarsland Plymouth, Minn. Benilde-St. Margaret's
100 Leo Gruba Lake Elmo, Minn. Hill-Murray
101 Daimon Gardner Winnipeg, MB Warroad
113 Tyler Haskins Rochester, Minn. Madison Capitols (USHL)
143 Gavin O'Connell Wayzata, Minn. Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
149 Dylan Godbout Woodbury, Minn. Hill-Murray
170 Nick Pierre Cottage Grove, Minn. Sioux City (USHL)
172 Aaron Pionk Hermantown, Minn. Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL)
218 Weston Knox Andover, Minn. Andover High School
220 Finn Loftus Blaine, Minn. Blaine High School

Minnesotans Listed Among NHLCS North American Goalies

Rank Player Hometown 2021-2022 Team
23 Hobie Hedquist Huron Lake, Minn. Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL)
27 Croix Kochendorfer St. Paul, Minn. Chippewa Steel (NAHL)

Huron Lake native Hobie Hedquist is ranked No. 23 among North American goalies by NHL Central Scouting.

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