NHL Draft prospect: Chris Casto

     The 2010 NHL Entry Draft is Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles and Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey continues his look at prospects, including Minnesota Duluth recruit defenseman Chris Casto, a recent Hill-Murray graduate, here.

     Some highlights:

Prospect Info:

Defenseman Chris Casto is a bit of a late-bloomer that has flown under the radar of many people, including NHL Central Scouting. But the senior defenseman had an outstanding year which should garner him some consideration in the later rounds of the NHL Draft.

Casto started his year with a strong performance in the Upper Midwest Elite League, where he was a top defenseman on the team that dominated in the league’s National Invitational Tournament. In January, during the high school season, he committed to play for Minnesota Duluth. He finished off his year with a run to the state tournament, where he was outstanding in an epic multi-overtime loss to Minnetonka.

Casto isn’t huge, standing at only 6-foot-1, but is a very strong 200 pounds. and skates very well. He showed some offensive abilities against high school competition, but is likely more of a stay-at-home type as he progresses.

Casto will play a year in the USHL before heading to Duluth. He was drafted early in the second round of the USHL Entry Draft by the Lincoln Stars.

Final Analysis:

Casto is borderline to be selected in the NHL Draft, if only because in later rounds, teams are looking to take players that maybe have more flaws, but also a potentially higher ceiling, as opposed to a solid all-around player that perhaps doesn’t have as much upside as Casto.

That said, I think Casto’s skating, and perhaps more importantly, his work ethic, is enough that some team will likely roll the dice with him in the later rounds of the draft. Next year will be telling, but so far, he’s been a player that has risen to the occasion and played his best when the level of competition rises, and could develop into a nice pro player.