Today, I will be featuring Green Bay's Derrick LaPoint.
LaPoint, an Eau Claire native, was reported to be one of the top three prospects in last May's entry draft. LaPoint though, fell right into his home state team's lap. Definitely an excellent pick by Gambler coach, Mark Mazzoleni. Derrick has not disappointed from an offensive standpoint. In 56 games played this season, LaPoint has recorded 49 points on 13 goals and 36 assists. His 49 points is good enough for 25th overall in the league, and 2nd among defensemen. LaPoint is the quarterback on the Gambler powerplay, and his numbers can attest to that. He has 34 points while on the man advantage, with seven being goals and 27 being assists. LaPoint doesn't boast the greatest +/- rating, due to the fact he's on the ice for the Gamblers when they are a man up, and most people know that you don't receive a plus rating for scoring on the powerplay. Although his -10 isn't exactly stellar, Derrick is routinely counted on in key situations.
LaPoint was drafted in the NHL last June by the Florida Panthers. He was selected in the 4th round and 116th overall. LaPoint is in an elite group among USHL players. He is one of only a few players currently playing (in the USHL) that is an NHL draft pick. Other draft picks include: Cedar Rapids' Sergei Kolosov (DET) and Richard Bachman (DAL), Chicago's Pat McGann (DAL), Des Moines' Jeff Petry (EDM) and Shane Sims (NYI), Indiana's Brent Gwidt (WAS) and Alex Kangas (ATL), Omaha's Will O'Neill (ATL), Sioux City's Kyle Medvec (MIN), Tri-City's Jesse Martin (ATL), Andrew Sackrison (STL), Nick Oslund (DET), Aaron Marvin (CAL), and Ian Keserich (COL), and Waterloo's Jan-Mikael Juutilainen.
LaPoint will play his college hockey at the University of North Dakota, beginning next fall. I think he could be a kid who may leave school after a year or two in Grand Forks, simply because he's an excellent player, and NHL teams are going after defensemen like LaPoint.