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Edit: Drafted 35th Overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
J.T. Compher has been a player for the U.S. National Team Development Program for several years. Last year he led the Under 17 team in scoring both in the USHL, and with 9 points in 5 games at the U17 World Hockey Challenge. He then jumped up and played with the U18 squad at the 2012 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, putting up 5 points in 6 games and contributing to Team USA’s Gold Medal win.
He continued to score this season, and while his total number of games was limited by injury he still put up over a point per game pace, scoring 24 points in 21 games in USHL action. Compher also captained the U18 squad at the 5 nations tournament leading them to a 1st place finish.
Currently Compher is participating in the 2013 IIHF Under 18 tournament, and has 7 points in 5 games, leading the US to a semi-final showdown with the host Russian squad. One thing we can say about Compher is that he has a knack for elevating his game when the stakes become highest, and this is certainly a worthy attribute for any young player to have.
Born — Northbrook, IL
Height 6.0 — Weight 184 lbs
February Rank 30
Compher is a talented agitator who plays an irritating game. He is always yapping and always in an opponents face after the whistle. Compher has the ability to get opponents off their game and draw penalties. Compher always seems to have a nose for trouble, finding himself in the middle of any scrum that starts when he is on the ice. He is not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice, and wins board battles and establishes position well in front of the net. He also drives the net hard, and has been known to take a goalie interference penalty or two for his efforts. He also has the skills to back up his chirping and agitation as he has the vision, and passing ability to be an extremely effective playmaker. Compher has very good stickhandling skill and can protect the puck well and control the play off the cycle. Compher combines this with a very good shot and release, and he knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. He also has the hockey sense to always find himself in the right place at the right time.
Compher’s skating stride is not pretty, but it gets him where he is going and it is effective. He has decent speed and acceleration. He is very strong on his skates, and has good balance allowing him to fight through checks and get to the net. He is difficult to knock off the puck. His agility and edgework could use some work, and better skating technique through practice could certainly help in those aspects.
Defensively, Compher is well developed. He brings his tenacious, hard working, physical game to the defensive end of the ice. He is willing to sacrifice for his team and puts his body on the line to block shots. His hockey sense, and ability to diagnose plays is very good and he often finds himself in the right spot in the defensive zone as well.
In terms of style Compher reminds us of a young Claude Lemieux. Now Claude may have a reputation as one of the most hated players in the history of the NHL, but the reality is that he was a player you may hate as an opponent, but you absolutely love as part of your own team. The agitation, combined with the offensive skills, defensive awareness, and the ability to elevate in big games all are reminiscent of Claude Lemieux. Potential Wise, Compher has the ability to be a very valuable two way forward capable of playing top 6 minutes and providing offence for an NHL if he reaches his ceiling. We recognize that we have Compher higher than most, but we at LWOS are big fans of JT Compher and feel that if he falls into the late 20s (where many other analysts project him) some NHL team is going to get an absolute steal.
Check back tomorrow for our number 18 prospect.
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