NHL Central Scouting released its midterm rankings on Tuesday and one current Wisconsin skater and three future Badgers found themselves on the North American list.
The highest ranked player was Luke Opilka, who was listed as the No. 5 North American goaltender. Opilka, who currently puts on the pads for the U.S. NTDP U-18 team, is the second highest ranked goaltender that will play college hockey, following only North Dakota recruit Matej Tomek (Topeka, NAHL).
With current goaltenders Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson graduating, Opilka is expected to step in next season as the starting goaltender for the Badgers. He'll have to compete with current freshman Gabe Grunwald, but it would be considered a big upset if Opilka isn't the regular starter between the pipes next fall.
Wisconsin freshman Cameron Hughes was ranked as the No. 183 North American skater, a far cry from the potential first-round ranking some had projected for him coming into the season. Hughes has not scored a goal yet this season and has just six assists through 18 games.
To be fair to Hughes, he didn't turn 18 until October and should be a senior in high school this year. If he had remained in the Alberta Junior Hockey League this season, he'd likely be leading the league in scoring and would be a top-100 player. He'll be selected at some point in this draft, there is little doubt in my mind.
Future recruit Adam Parsells (Wausau West high school) was ranked as the No. 105 North American skater. Listed at 6'5.5, 192-pounds, Parsells is projected this high because of his potential. While I think he'll be a solid player for the Badgers down the road, he's still growing into his lanky frame, although he's taken giant leaps, no pun intended, over the past two years.
Scouts are mixed on Parsells. I've talked to NHL scouts that think he should be ranked as high as the second round, while others wouldn't draft him at all. He will be selected at some point, but the range of opinions on him is vast, so it makes projecting his landing spot incredibly difficult.
The other recruit to be ranked was Matthew Freytag, who checked in at No. 149 on the list. The Tri-City Storm (USHL) left-winger is a likely late-round NHL pick if he is selected. Freytag has signed a national letter of intent with Wisconsin, and is expected to join the Badgers next fall.
Brock Boeser, who was originally committed to Wisconsin but decommitted in November, was ranked as the No. 28 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. He has yet to make an official college choice, although North Dakota and Minnesota are the favorites to win his services.
River Falls native and Minnestoa commit Tommy Novak was the highest ranked Wisconsin player on the list, checking in at No. 29. The skilled forward plays with Boeser in Waterloo (USHL).
Two other Wisconsin natives were ranked by Central Scouting. Denver recruit Kevin Conley (Youngstown, USHL) from Wausau was ranked No. 165. Northern Michigan recruit Collin Peters (Sioux Falls, USHL) from Sheboygan checked in at No. 128.
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