Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his rankings of the Top 30 draft-eligible prospects of 2016. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center here in Buffalo on June 24 and 25.
#24. Riley Tufte – LW, Blaine Bengals (Minnesota HS)
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |
A dominating presence at the scholastic level with the same Blaine Bengals program that spawned current Florida Panthers standout Nick Bjugstad, the swift-skating Tufte torched the competition this past season with 47 goals and 78 points in 25 regular season games to earn the Mr. Hockey award as Minnesota High School Player of the Year.
Like Bjugstad before him, Tufte has the coveted NHL size (6-foot-5, 190 pounds), reach and puck skills while being lauded by coaches for a being a great teammate and leader. Despite the expansive frame, Tufte is not a hard-hitting power forward prospect, but rather a skilled scorer with a soft and quick set of hands that dangle the puck through traffic and past a goaltender.
The thought is that Tufte will develop a more physical edge to his game as he gains more reps against a higher level of competition.
Tufte, who bookended his high school season by producing 10 goals in 27 games at the beginning and end of the USHL season with the Fargo Force, will continue his development with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he’ll begin play in 2015-16 as a true freshman for the perennial National Collegiate Hockey Conference power.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline and an updated organizational depth chart, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).