2011 NHL Draft Prospects: No. 31 Seth Ambroz

Growing up in New Prague, Minnesota, there isn’t much to do in the winters other than play hockey. And although Omaha Lancers right wing Seth Ambroz was not really into hockey at first, it only took his brother and a couple skating sessions to develop his love for the game.

“Living in Minnesota, it’s just what you do,” Ambroz said in an interview with USHL.com.  “I started playing shortly after my brother.  He got into it when he was about three or four years old and I followed shortly thereafter.  Then our sister joined us when she was about 12.”

“My brother definitely got me started in hockey and opened up some doors for me,” Seth said. “He told me about Bliss and he liked him a lot as a coach. He told me he was a tough coach, but also a great teacher.”

Years later, after his sophomore season in the United States League, Ambroz was one of the top-ranked prospects for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. His 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games, combined with the plus-24 rating he compiled, led NHL Central Scouting to label him as one of the most talented upcoming players in the world. But after his two linemates, Montreal Canadiens first rounder Louis LeBlanc and Boston College forward Pat Mullane, moved on from the USHL, Ambroz’s game regressed a bit, as his plus/minus rating dropped to just plus-1, after posting 46 points in the 2010-11 season. His Central Scouting ranking dropped to 31st among North American skaters. But Ambroz continues to work on his game and refuses to give up.

“The transition from high school to the USHL was hard since it’s a much faster game, but you just have to get used to it,” Ambroz said. “Playing with Louie (Leblanc) and Pat (Mullane) helped me a lot though. Louie just had that attitude of wanting to play hard and he would never quit. Being with him every day was a great thing for me to have.”

“He’s a freak,” Omaha GM Bliss Littler told NHL.com. “He’s a special kid. To think, he started on our third line last year and ended up on the top line with Louis Leblanc and Pat Mullane. He’s on one of our top two power-play units and he’s killing penalties.”

“He’s an outstanding underage player with a very bright future,” NHL scout Jack Barzee told NHL.com. “He’s good at all facets of the game and has them down pretty well.”

The 6-foot-3, 198-pound forward’s best aspect is probably his size. As a power forward, he is very difficult to move off the puck – and he can throw bodies around when the opportunity calls for it. His skating and hands are above average, but still needs to work on his two-way play. He still lacks the explosive acceleration needed to succeed at the professional level. But Ambroz is pumped to be a part of June’s annual ceremonies, and knows that he needs to work hard if he hopes to take that big step to the next level.

“I’m definitely excited about the draft coming to Minnesota,” wrote Ambroz in his NHL.com draft blog. “I just hope it all works out well. I realize there’s pressure but you just hope to play well in front of the scouts who are watching. It’s something that you can’t really think about too much because you know you’re not going to be able to have your best game every single night. You can’t let the pressure get to you because that’s when you kind of start grabbing your stick a little harder or not making the simple plays you should be making, so just got to think of it as just another game. Just do what you do best.”

Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.

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