Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Blake Biondi.
Winner of the 2020 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award, Blake Biondi is set to join the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs next season. The Hermantown High captain put up 37 goals and 39 assists for 76 points in just 25 games. He also added 10 goals and nine assists for 19 points in just six playoff games. Drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers with the eighth pick in the 2018 USHL Draft, Biondi played 10 USHL games. He picked up a goal and two assists for three points. Biondi also played for Team USA at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. He scored one goal and one assist in four tournament games.
Last season Biondi scored 28 goals and 27 assists for 55 points in 25 games with Hermantown. He was named a First-Team All-American. He also played seven games for Sioux City with a goal and an assist. Biondi added two goals in two playoff games. In five games at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, Biondi scored one goal and three points. In eight games with the US NTDP, he also had one goal and two assists. Biondi played 21 games for Team North in the UMHSEHL, scoring 21 goals and seven assists for 28 points.
Blake Biondi Scouting Report
Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born April 24th, 2002 — Hermantown, Minnesota
Height 6’0″ — Weight 191 lbs [183 cm/87 kg]
Biondi is an above-average skater but there are areas he can continue to work on. He has good, but not great, speed. His first step is quick and his acceleration allows him to quickly change speeds. Biondi has good edgework and agility. He can make a quick cut or lateral move to get away from a defender both with and without the puck. Biondi is strong on the puck and does a good job of winning puck battles along the boards and establishing his position in front of the net. He has a strong lower-body and can fight through checks to get to the dirty areas of the ice.
Biondi’s game is based upon a relentless work ethic. He is always near the puck and looking to make a play. When he has it, he is willing to take the puck to the dirty areas of the ice to make a play. He loves to shoot, with a hard and accurate wrist shot and snapshot. Biondi could stand to get a bit quicker with his release though. When a teammate has the puck, he gets into the slot, being ready to take a pass and fire it on the net. Biondi also has the hand-eye coordination to get deflections and to pounce on rebounds. He can finish in tight to the net.
Biondi can also help to set up teammates. He protects the puck well on the cycle game, controlling it down low. He makes smart passes to teammates and keeps his feet moving to get open for a give-and-go. Biondi can take the puck to the front of the net and make a pass to a teammate. He does a good job of keeping his head up and seeing plays develop. Biondi is relentless in chasing down loose pucks, forechecking to put pressure on defenders, and battling on the boards. He never gives up on a play and this helps him to create offence.
Biondi brings his strong work ethic to all three zones. He pesters opposing forwards with effective backpressure against the rush. He also works to support the defence down low. Biondi is willing to battle for loose pucks all over the ice, including in his own end. His quick stick also helps him to poke check opponents. There are some areas of his game that need to be rounded out though. He needs to do a better job of staying with his man away from the puck and being in the right position. This could be something he will learn with time though. The reality is that playing high school hockey, he dominates. The puck is often on his stick and outside of a few games with Sioux City or the NTDP, Biondi has not yet been challenged by prospects of his calibre.
Projection and Comparison
Biondi will need some time to develop. Moving to college will be a big step up in quality of competition and some time adjusting may be necessary. It will also be good for Biondi to be exposed to high-level coaching. Two or three years at the NCAA level will be quite helpful in rounding out all areas of his game. Biondi has the potential to be a middle-six forward in the NHL but will be a bit of a project. His game is reminiscent of Zach Hyman. This is a stylistic comparison only though, and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Blake Biondi that are available on youtube and twitter.
#Hlinka: USA ups its lead to 2-0 over Russia on this PPG by Hermantown C Blake Biondi (Ranked No. 40). Headed to Minnesota-Duluth. Was offered a spot on the NTDP but turned it down to stay with Hermantown. pic.twitter.com/s9A2VMGN9Y
— The Draft Analyst (@TheDraftAnalyst) August 5, 2019
— Bob Gustafson (@BG2020) December 12, 2018
#2020NHLDraft prospect Blake Biondi (U of Minnesota-Duluth commit) lit up the USHS-MN league with 76 points in 25 games. He opted to play for Hermantown HS instead of the USNTDP.
He scored this breakaway goal off of the opening face off of the game on Dec 7th.
— Daniel Gee (@DanielGScouting) May 9, 2020
Not the prettiest of breakouts, but it's a strong first pass from Eamon Powell and a nice cross-ice feed from Dylan Peterson.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 6, 2018
Landon Slaggert was strong all game long for Team USA. He finished with a 🚨 and an 🍏 and was dominant on the PK and the forecheck.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 4, 2018
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Blake Biondi Main Photo:
— YHH (@YouthHockeyHub) July 16, 2018