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NHL Draft

Tyler Inamoto's work ethic earning raves

NTDP defenseman well-regarded for character, defensive-zone play

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

Defenseman Tyler Inamoto knows there's work to do ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Inamoto, 17, has one point in six games with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team, but he's successfully displayed an ability to play a strong defensive game that could translate to the professional level. He earned a B rating from NHL Central Scouting on its preliminary players to watch list.

"I think that I'm a good two-way defenseman," Inamoto said. "I play really physical down in my zone and I'm hard to play against down in the defensive zone. I make good first passes, I skate pretty well for a guy my size (6-foot-1, 194 pounds), and I just play the game with a lot of grit."

NTDP U-18 coach John Wroblewski said Inamoto stands out because of his work ethic and team-first attitude.

"Along the lines of character, he's one of the finest young men I've been around," Wroblewski said. "He just does things properly. You tell him something and he's staring you right in the eye. He's going out and executing as hard as he possibly can."

That included two games with the NTDP U-18 team during the USHL Fall Classic East at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Pa., on Sept. 16 and 17

"I love his retrievals. He goes back and plays a fearless game," Wroblewski said. "He gets bumped a few times [in an 8-2 win against Dubuque on Sept. 16], but next time back he leaves a perfect wall play for his partner and is able to distribute. Just his overall mobility and the knack to be able to control the ice with that mobility and size, he'll be able to break up a lot of plays and facilitate a lot of offense.

"His hands and shot are very good as well. He's probably not a quarterback for a power play, but he's a guy you look to contribute offensively."

Inamoto has one assist in six games this season. In 27 games with the NTDP U-17 team last season, he had three assists.

He's committed to the University of Wisconsin for next season, a decision he made after touring the campus.

"I took a visit my sophomore year [of high school] and I just love the campus," Inamoto said. "I fell in love with the campus and the facilities and the coaching staff. I just felt that was the right fit for me, and I took time to talk to my family and we all came to the same decision. Then I committed there that year."

Inamoto grew up rooting for several NHL teams. He initially was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, which was instilled in him by his father, Barry, who grew up in Toronto, before transitioning to a New Jersey Devils fan.

That came along with playing with Tyler Madden, the son of former Devils forward John Madden. But when John Madden signed with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009, Inamoto's rooting interests shifted to the Blackhawks.

Despite his admiration of and comparisons to Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, Inamoto said he hasn't shaped his style after any particular player.

"I don't really think I mold after anybody in the League," he said. "I try to play my own my game."

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