The Tigers might be getting a 2nd round NHL Pick in last year's entry draft headed their way.
Tommy Vannelli an 18 yr old, 6'2 175 lb offensive defenceman, has decided to leave the University of Minnesota. The Medicine Hat Tigers hold his CHL rights. He has yet to make a decision on whether he wants to play in the CHL or play in the USHL for Tri-City in the states.
Here is an excerpt from the Gophers head Coach on his take why he left their program.
“After a few weeks of trying to balance academics and athletics, Tommy made the decision this morning that college hockey was not the best route for him at this time,” coach Don Lucia said. “We accept his decision and will move on as a team.”
From Mckeens Hockey
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.
The Tigers have a stacked blueline already. If Vannelli did decide to join the Tigers it would be likely that young players in Hobbs, Allan, Schultz, and Staples would be really hard pressed to get a lot of ice time here.
From what I read it seems like he is a player that would fit well into the Tigers systems, and they have a Minnesota connection with the training a lot of players do down there, as well as Miles Koules who played hockey down there.
To me that seems like the best defensive group the Tigers have iced since their memorial cup run.