2016-17 Team: Hermantown Hawks (#12)
Date of Birth: January 24, 1999
Place of Birth: Hermantown, Minnesota
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 190 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): not ranked (final)
- Future Considerations: 85th (final)
- ISS: not ranked (May)
- Bob McKenzie: 65th (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 52nd (final)
- The Hockey News: 48th (final)
Minnesota has built a hefty reputation as the “State of Hockey” in the United States. Aside from a strong pro tradition between the North Stars and Wild, the state is a massive factory for college hockey. The University of Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth are powerhouses, and youngsters grow up dreaming of playing for those clubs when they get old enough. As a result, high school hockey in the state is nuts. Eden Prarie’s Casey Mittelstadt is the shiniest bauble from the State of Hockey in the 2017 NHL Draft class, but Hermantown’s Dylan Samberg is a very interesting player likely available in a subsequent round.
Samberg has a reputation for being a very impressive amateur golfer, in addition to be a pretty good high school defender. Not shockingly, his golfing experience has bled into his hockey style a bit – the kid has a really good shot. He’s also got a big frame, but arguably he’s built more like a golfer than what we think hockey players should be – he’s leaner and athletically-built rather than being a big brute. That means he can move more readily than big-bodied defenders usually do, which arguably suits the way the NHL game is played these days.
So why isn’t Samberg as highly touted as some defenders? Well, it’s probably based on the fact that he’s only established himself as a strong Minnesota high school player. He’s arguably mastered the small pond, but he hasn’t even played enough in the United States Hockey League for scouts to really have an idea of how his talent level can extrapolate. That said, how raw and untested Samberg is may end up being an asset; there’s really no indication yet of where his ceiling is, so NHL clubs may take the bet on it being rather high. Regardless of question marks about the competitiveness of Minnesota high school hockey, Samberg’s big frame and success thus far will probably get him selected as teams bet on his potential. He’ll be off to Minnesota-Duluth in the fall.
NHL Draft Projection
Samberg seems a good bet to go somewhere in the fourth or fifth round of the draft.
“Samberg is one of the rawest players in the Draft and will definitely be a project, despite being a relatively high pick. He was originally scheduled to play a year in the USHL before college, but after Minnesota Duluth lost defenseman Neal Pionk to the NHL, Samberg will head straight to college hockey. It may take Samberg a few years in Duluth to adjust and develop, but if he continues on his upward trajectory, he has potential as a first or second pairing defenseman at the NHL level.” – Chris Dilks, SBN College Hockey.
- Strong shot from the point
- Big frame
- Good mobility, especially when considering his size
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs to improve his offensive game aside from his shooting
- Needs to use his size more effectively in board battles
- Needs to continue to improve his defensive positioning and reads
Second pairing, offensive defender.
Risk – 1.5/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 7.5/10
This season Samberg won the Reed Larsen Award, given to top senior high school defenseman in Minnesota. He was also a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award, awarded to the top high school player in the state.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.