2022-23 Team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Date of Birth: Nov. 27, 2004
Place of Birth: Elko, MN
Height: 6-foot, Weight: 185 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters): 53rd
- DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY: 93rd
- SMAHT Scouting: 98th
- FC Hockey: 154th
The United States Hockey League (USHL) class this season is strong, with one of those prospects being Tanner Ludtke. A balanced player who can contribute at both ends of the ice, he has already committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha for the 2023-24 season. While he may not be the flashiest player, he showed this season he can not only be a solid playmaker but capitalize on scoring opportunities.
When breaking down Ludtke’s game, his best trait is body positioning. In the offensive zone, he is excellent at protecting the puck and is good at sealing off the wall, knocking down the opposition’s clearing attempt. He also knows where to position himself when driving to the net so that his stick is open to collect passes and get shots on goal. When the puck is in the offensive zone, defenders need to be careful not to give him too much space; otherwise, he will find an opening and capitalize.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
One reason Ludtke had such a successful season is his ability to read and react. When the puck is on his stick, rather than try and force a play, he will either find an open teammate to pass the puck to or dump it deep into the zone and try to win a down-low board battle. He also recognizes when he needs to cover for a pinching defenceman to avoid an odd-man rush from developing. A prospect who likes to play a safe game, he understands the importance of possession and does everything he can to ensure his team keeps the puck in the offensive zone for as long as possible.
In his first full USHL season, Ludtke helped the Lincoln Stars to a fifth-place finish during the regular season before falling in the Western Conference Final. He finished sixth in the league with 32 goals, while his 66 points were tied for eighth across the entire USHL. During the season, he was also selected to Team USA for the World Junior A Challenge, where he and his teammates won gold. Overall, it was a very successful season which is always a positive heading into the draft.
The hope is that playing in the NCAA will help Ludtke become more creative on the ice. He is a player that likes to use his teammates as much as possible, which is fine now, but if he wants to make the jump to pro, he needs to find a way to drive the play more often. There is no question he has a lot of potential; now it is about whether or not he can take the next step in his development.
Other THW Profiles
Tanner Ludtke- NHL Draft Projection
Ludtke is a perfect middle to late-round pick for a team that doesn’t mind waiting a few years for him to develop. He is going to spend the next few seasons in the NCAA, so teams won’t get him right away, but they can work with him and monitor him closely to ensure he is progressing year after year. A good range projection would be 120-130 which would be the late fourth or early fifth round.
“Tanner Ludtke is a player that rarely gets mentioned in the public sphere. The 6’0 forward can look a bit awkward in his skating mechanics and his pace of play is a question mark. However, he plays the game so well. He’s very involved as a one-touch puck transporter, is one of the top shot generators in the USHL in my data set, and has enough skill that his pace doesn’t hinder him from making plays.” – SMAHT Scouting, Austin Garrett
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“Ludtke plays a simplistic, two-way game and, while he doesn’t have elite offensive skill, it’s the little things he does that makes him an effective player. There’s not a particular area of his game that stood out. To a certain degree he can do a little bit of everything.” – Douglas Larson, FC Hockey
- Ability to read the play
- Play in his own zone
- Wrist shot
- Body positioning
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Carrying the puck into the offensive zone
- Creativity with the puck on his stick
Ludkte projects as a bottom-six forward at the NHL level. He will most likely be a winger, as he is best along the boards while also being used on the penalty kill. While he still has some work to do on the development side, there is absolutely a path for him to become a useful player at the NHL level.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 2.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 5/10, Defense – 6/10
Achievements & Awards
- 2022 WJAC-19 Champion