First things first. Call it a public service announcement. A mission statement? Maybe a warning label?
The following list is that of my own, and in no way reflects the views, opinions or assessments of any other coach, evaluator or person affiliated with high school hockey or the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA). Any questions, comments, concerns or opinions related to the content of this article can be directed towards myself, Craig Peterson, readily available via Twitter and Instagram.
Look, I’m just a guy who watches a lot of hockey. I’ve been around a lot of programs over the past 10-15 years. I played, I coached, I scouted. I’ve been witness to some pretty high-end hockey. I see a lot of good things, good players and good programs at the high school level. Oh, and I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism. I want to help. Pairing both a passion for high school hockey with some writing skills is my way of growing the game, promoting its players and teams, and providing next-level coverage of the sport that we all love.
The Top 100 Names to Know in High School Hockey is far and away the most grueling and intensive piece of content I’ve ever had to put together. Long days at the rink, countless hours streaming games and watching film, an entire notebook filled with chicken scratch cover-to-cover. All for one 7,000-word article that ended up touching on 100 players from 66 different programs around the state when all was said and done.
Rightfully so, it’s also the most scrutinized piece of work. Everyone wants to weigh in regarding who’s on the list and the order they’re in. Anyone left off makes their case why they should be on. I get it. Honestly, I think a healthy debate regarding players and programs creates a good energy and excitement around our game that others may lack. It’s not about being right or wrong to me, it’s about getting the conversations started.
Last year, the 2019 Top 100 featured nine players who went on to sign NAHL tender agreements, including six of the Top 10. It also included two 2020 USHL Draft picks and three NAHL Draft picks. The eventual 2020 Mr. Hockey recipient checked in at No. 29, and the other members of the Dream Team at No. 7, No. 9, No. 43 and No. 97 (the sixth being a first-year player ineligible for last year’s Top 100).
Full disclosure, I also missed the mark in 2019 on one NAHL tender, one NAHL draft pick and a future AJHL defenseman from last year’s list. So as much as I love doing this, and hopefully you the reader enjoy the coverage, by no means is the Top 100 the end all, be all.
Allow me to lay a little groundwork for the basis of this list. I’ve compiled my top 100 players *returning* to high school hockey. I believe many of these athletes to be promising prospects at the junior hockey level for the way they play the game and the impact that they have on the ice. There are others who have compiled a decorated resume over the course of their playing careers as well, and I believe they will have a significant impact on their team this season. With more than 2,000 varsity hockey players in the state, I am quite confident there are several talented players that I’m missing and may be worth consideration. There are also several dozen first-year players who I make exempt from this list that will certainly have a major impact on the hockey landscape. Maybe that’s an article for later… hmmm…
Anyway, there’s 65 forwards, 28 defensemen and seven goalies that made this year’s list from every corner and crevice of the state. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the 80 seniors, 19 juniors and one sophomore that make up my 2021 Top 100 Names to Know Returning to High School Hockey…