The Resurgence of a Hockey Program: Looking Forward to the 2009 NHL Draft

Matt EllenbergerCorrespondent IJune 24, 2008

It’s no secret that Edina, home of players such as Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Joe Gleason and Washington Capitals draft pick Joe Finley (as well as yours truly), has turned in to quite the hockey hotbed in Minnesota’s Metro Area. An influx of talent to the suburb has created a size-able draft class for 2009.

Everyone knows about Shattuck- St. Mary’s, the northern Minnesota powerhouse who has seen more than its share of talent with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Joe Corvo, and Zach Parise.  It appears that home grown talent, at least in Edina, is staying home this year as opposed to playing for a tried and true Sabers team at Shattuck. 

Just this past year, Anders Lee transferred from a single-A powerhouse St. Thomas Academy team to his home school district of Edina. On a line with standouts Marshall Everson (Harvard recruit) and Zach Budish (Minnesota Recruit), they amassed a grand total of 81 goals and 145 points in just 25 games. Individually, Lee had 25 goals and 43 points; Everson added 35 goals and 52 points, and Budish had 21 goals and 50 points. All three are NHL prospects, with Lee ranked the highest as the 112th best North American skater. Everson is ranked 117th and Budish wasn’t ranked because he was too young to get drafted.

Everson can be described as a pure scorer, a player built in the Matt Reber mould (if I was to compare to an Edina player), who currently plays for Dartmouth, or in the mould of a Marian Hossa if I was to compare to an NHL player. He’s a pure scorer with loads of speed to burn, but not much defensive ability. Even if his speed helps him a little in that aspect of his game, you’ve got to keep in mind the kid’s just a junior in High School (I can call him a kid because I’m all of a year older than him).

Budish is a big, strong player who’s just a force out there. He reminds me of a young Eric Lindros minus the injury problems. He plays both ends of the ice as well, and has a good head on his shoulders. He virtually doesn’t make mistakes out there; he delivers the old “bone- crushing” hits, but he never gives up on the play and is almost never caught out of position. That said, the kid has his flaws and will make his mistakes at times. He’s not that fast (but by no means slow) of a skater. That’s where his positioning pays dividends. If he can keep improving his skills he could be a star.

Last, but not least, is Anders Lee. This kid might be the most ready to play at the highest level, but he still has a long way to go. He’s big, strong, but not quite as physical as Budish. When you watch him play, this kid doesn’t stand out upon first glance.  But if you watch him play a while, you realize he has skills you can’t teach. In baseball, they would call him a five-tool player. He has lots of speed, physical ability, and a great shot. Plus, he has that nose for the net that is almost like a sixth sense. If you watch him play long enough, you see that he’s in the middle of every scoring chance. He just has the incredible sense to see the play before it develops.

There you have three High School seniors next year, who give Edina a legitimate shot at the Minnesota State High School League title next winter. Who knows, you might even see these kids at an NHL hockey rink near you just a few short years from now.