Over the past 18 months, Minnetonka High School defenseman Tommy Vannelli has risen from relative anonymity to be a potential top 60 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound native of Victoria, Minnesota has developed rapidly since emerging at this summer's U.S. evaluation camp, where he earned a spot on Team USA for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in August - and an invite to join the NTDP.
Declining the offer in order to return for his senior high school year, Vannelli has since verified his status as the top draft-eligible prospect in the state of Minnesota.
He enjoyed a successful fall campaign in the Upper Midwest Elite League (23-4-10-14), propelling Team Northwest to a 14-4-3 record, tops in the league. The Upper Midwest is a league that comprises the top high-school players from Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, and precedes the start of the high school campaign, which kicked off this past week.
Tommy Vannelli (D, 2013), Minnetonka (USHS-MN) - since returning from the Hlinka tournament, Vannelli has shown why the National Team Development Program wanted him in Ann Arbor .. smooth skater and methodical two-way defender with an offensive flair .. always has his head on a swivel, demonstrating exceptional awareness and hockey sense .. impressively keeps the game in front of him - does an excellent job surveying the ice and seeking out potentially dangerous situations .. excels at the transition game - can fuse himself into the rush and also has the ability to recovery quickly .. boasts excellent puckhandling talents thanks to soft hands which allow him to maneuver around opponents .. very good passer - makes a strong outlet pass to break out of the defensive zone - and can thread a precision feed through traffic .. quarterbacks the power play, exhibiting impressive patience handling the puck combined with a sharp ability to find the open man .. possesses very quick feet - even if his stride is a bit short, which gives him the luxury to dart through the neutral zone with relative ease .. moves well laterally and is fluid in transitions and cuts .. does a good job getting pucks through traffic to the net and opening up scoring opportunities for teammates, however does not have an overpowering slapshot .. at 175 pounds, he still has plenty of room to fill in a lanky frame - and his lack of strength is a marginal issue at this level of competition in terms of competing in front of the net and in the corners when a physical response is needed .. appears to have tremendous upside with his development progressing at such a rapid pace .. looks to build on the momentum of a very productive summer and further enhance his draft stock.