Scouting Report on NU Recruits: Lincoln Stars

Via @cpreems29

Providence, RI — Through the glory of Twitter I was able to make contact with Tim Sattler, a former blogger in Lincoln, Nebraska who used to cover the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. Tim covered the Stars and saw former Huskies Colton Saucerman, Kevin Roy, and Dax Lauwers go through the USHL and reach Huntington Avenue. While the blog has since been stopped, Tim still attends Lincoln games often, and was kind enough to give me some feedback regarding two players Northeastern and its fans expect to come in and contribute immediately: goaltender Cayden Primeau and forward Brandon Schultz.

NHB: Cayden Primeau is seen as the crown jewel of the 2017 NU recruiting class, and we’ve been looking forward to him for some time. His stats, however, leave a lot to be desired. Do the stats tell the whole story, or is there more to Primeau in terms of physical tools/team performance that we can’t see? 

TS:  Cayden is a very raw talent.  Goaltenders, at his age, usually struggle mightily in the USHL.  Very, very rarely have I ever seen anyone as young as Cayden play and perform as well as he has this season.  His performance has been a bit up and down, and I think he would agree with that.  Consistency could be better.  He has for the most part split starts with Josef Korenar this season.  The Stars do not currently have a clear #1.  More like a #1a and #1b.

I must be bad luck, because most of my viewings of him at home haven’t been the greatest.  He can wander a bit from the net, which has gotten him in trouble.  Recently there was a weekend when he didn’t have his best effort at home and gave up 4-5 goals in a loss, but the following night he stood on his head on the road and stopped 38 of 39 in a big win.

Because goaltenders very, very rarely are “one and done” in the USHL, I was hoping he would return next season because I really think it would benefit him.  I’m not up to date with Northeastern’s goaltenders, and how many are returning next season, but everything I’ve heard indicates he will only play one season in Lincoln and will enroll at NU this fall.  We’ve had some very, very good goaltenders play here in Lincoln since 1996, and I can’t honestly recall the last time we had a goaltender go “one and done.”  Michael Bitzer, now a standout at Bemidji State, played here two years.  Jared Coreau, previously with Northern Michigan and now with the Detroit Red Wings, played here two seasons.

The sky is the limit with Cayden.  Physically, he has all the tools.  Very cool, and composed between the pipes for as young as he is.  Great genes, obviously.  I think he has a very, very good shot at playing in the NHL someday.  I just wish he wish he was coming back and getting more junior experience before heading off to college.

NHB: Primeau has worse stats but a better record than his partner in net for Lincoln. Do you think there is a change in team performance/attitude based on who is in net, possibly playing looser when Primeau is in net because they trust him to perform well? We have seen that type of performance splits with Jonathan Quick and the LA Kings.

TSHard for me to answer this question because of my limited viewings.  I really don’t think the team plays any different depending on who is in net.  As I stated above, I think Korenar has been more consistent this season compared to Cayden.  Korenar is a year older, by the way.

NHB: Tell me a little about Brandon Schultz. He is Lincoln’s leading scorer (30 points in 40 games) as an overaged skater. He isn’t the biggest player (5 foot 7); what can he bring to the college game? How is he on faceoffs?

TS: I wasn’t sure what to think of Schultz when the Stars first acquired him at the beginning of the season from the Waterloo Blackhawks.  His size stands out initially when you look at his stats.  He’s small, there’s no getting around that.  Sometimes smaller players (especially defensemen) struggle at the USHL level due to the speed and physicality of the league.

But Schultz is fearless with and without the puck, and his game has really grown on me.  Recently I was working as goal judge, and I heard a comment from a fan sitting near me which stated, “Man, that #21 is damn good.  He battles all game long.”  There’s no on/off switch in regards to that kid….it’s always on.  He plays both ways very well.  One of the quicker players I’ve seen play in Lincoln in the last few years.

He’s a little pitbull out there, honestly.  Has some pest in his game, but he knows when not to push it to the point where he’s racking up stupid penalties.

He has predominantly played wing for the Stars this season.  If he has played center, I’ve never seen it in person.  He has also played on the PP and the PK.  As a ’96, he’s considered an “overager” in the USHL.  Each USHL team can roster up to four “overager” players, so typically these players are the ones on your team that are leaders, both on the ice and off.  Schultz is certainly that.  Due to his junior experience, I would suspect he shouldn’t have a lot of growing pains as a freshman at Northeastern.  The coaches will be able to plug him in right away.

Many thanks to Tim for taking the time to answer our questions. I appreciated how frank he was, calling the shots like he saw them, especially with regards to the way Primeau has looked. While Cayden definitely has room to grow, Huskies fans still have to be excited that a player that talented is coming to Matthews Arena next season.

Follow Tim on Twitter at @tdsattler.

To view our Northeastern Hockey roster projection, including Primeau and Schultz next year, click here.