Also hearing that TOR is one of the final few teams being considered by Michigan State UFA F Taro Hirose: https://t.co/bW1eJBmP87
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 12, 2019
Per NHL source, Mercyhurst D Joseph Duszak is expected to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Exceptional skater and puck-handling D. Finished the season with 47 points, good for third nationally among all players (not just D). Finishes three-year NCAA career with 99pts in 101 GP.
— Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) March 12, 2019
Taro Hirose | LW
School: Michigan State
As is the case with a lot of the prospects we’ll be looking at today, Hirose is on the smaller side. But his 5-foot-10 frame hasn’t stopped him from putting up some outstanding numbers at Michigan State. It’s also worth noting that it’s a rare thing for a Canadian player to lead the nation in scoring at the college level, but that is what Hirose is doing this year with the Spartans.
Hirose, who models his game after Johnny Gaudreau, has displayed great speed, vision, and hands at the collegiate level. Through the first 24 games of the 2018-19 season, he has piled up 40 points and is averaging 1.74 points per-game. For some context: Ryan Poehling, the 25th overall pick of the 2017 Draft (Montreal) has 19 points in 20 games with St. Cloud State in his junior season.
In case you were wondering, Michigan State doesn’t have any NHL prospects who are contributing in a big way this year. The engine of their offense is undoubtedly Hirose.
The native Calgarian has produced consistently at even strength this year — 28 of his first 40 points this season were scored at evens. But what really separates Hirosi’s production from the rest of the pack is his primary assists. He has 18 primary assists this season, which is the same number of primary assists he finished with in 36 games last year. Hirose is definitely more of a playmaker than a shooter — and he does make some brilliant passes — but there’s a lot more to Hirose’s game than his knack for setting up teammates.
According to some, Hirose got lost in the shuffle at times when he attended the Red Wings Development Camp last June, but TSN’s Kristen Shilton and others thought he stood out in a big way at the Leafs Camp in 2017. She wasn’t alone; Hirose was the subject of a feature article for The Athletic that summer. How he will fare playing against big, physical defenders is definitely something to consider, but Hirose looks like an NHL-talent that’s just waiting for a team to give him a chance.
If Chris Drury and Jeff Gorton don’t have an interview lined up with Hirose already, they definitely should consider making one.
Taro Hirose making nifty plays for MSU. pic.twitter.com/qGggOnmeVC
— Kyle M. (@KyleWIIM) January 2, 2018
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 11, 2017
Joe Duszak | D
School: Mercyhurst University
Duszak, a Long Island-native, checks off pretty much every box when it comes to what we expect from a big college free agent signing. The 5-foot-10 right-handed defenseman was the 2016 USPHL (United States Premier Hockey League) Defenseman of the Year and is currently the highest-scoring rear guard in the nation. As you might expect, Duszak — who converted to his current position in his first midget season — is frequently labeled as an offensive blueliner.
We can’t talk about Duszak without spending a significant amount of time discussing his production. He has 11 goals and 22 assists this year and 12 of those assists are primary. He’s already eclipsed his production as a sophomore, and is currently leading his team in goals and assists. His 3.26 SOG/GP also leads the way for Mercyhurst, which speaks volumes about his role and value to the Lakers’ offense — so too does his seven-point lead over Mercyhurst’s second-highest scoring skater.
It’s worth noting that Duszak also leads Mercyhurst in the minus department, although that is a poor way to measure defensive performance. As one might expect, he’s the Lakers’ horse and is on the ice battling against the opposition’s best players. A cursory look at some film revealed that he struggles in net-front battles, especially on the penalty kill. But that is not altogether surprising considering his frame.
Rick Gotkin, Mercyhurst’s head coach, thinks that his star defenseman succeeds in all three zones. “He’s always been a good scorer,” Gotkin told Chris Lerch of USCHO in a recent interview, “but he’s become a very reliable defenseman. He’s a super competitive kid who loves to play hockey. He’s got a great instinct for the game. He sees the ice well. He’s become a great 200-foot player.”
Duszak played beneath current Hartford Wolf Pack assistant coach Joe Mormina in his freshman season at Mercyhurst, so the Rangers should know quite a bit about him. However, Duszak attended the New York Islanders 2016 Mini-Camp and he’s a Long Island kid. Like Hirose, he’s on the radar of a lot of teams.
Mercyhurst D Joseph Duszak is getting a lot of NHL attention, and with good reason. 25 points (9 goals, 16 assist) in 21 games as a D. 77 points (23g, 54a) in 85 NCAA games.
— Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) January 8, 2019
A 👀 at Duszak’s second goal ✌️ pic.twitter.com/ybua7WJZzZ
— Mercyhurst Hockey (@HurstMensHockey) December 9, 2018
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