[Update 5:53 PM]: Western College Hockey was kind enough to pass along a previous article they did on Wrenn. Make sure to check out the full piece here as it's chock full of interviews and evaluations. When asked if they agreed with San Jose's selection they replied, "I'm a little surprised San Jose took him that high, but there's definitely a lot of positives there."
Perhaps no prospect in the NHL Draft exemplifies the changing geography of the hockey landscape than William Wrenn, who, in order to advance his hockey career, moved at the age of 14 from Achorage, Alaska to Los Angeles, California to play for the elite Los Angeles Selects AAA team. That move got the lanky, developing defenseman noticed by USA Hockey, and the following year, he agreed to join the US NTDP U17 team.
But it wasn't until the following year that Wrenn began to fill out and find his role as a tough, defensive defenseman. He also became more of a leader for the NTDP, and captained his team to a gold medal at the World U18 Championships.
He'll continue his hockey career at the University of Denver next season.
Strengths: Defensive play, leadership, physicality
Needs to Improve: Being more of a playmaker
Wrenn may have pitched in some offense at the World U18 Championships, but in the long run, that's not going to be his game moving forward. He'll may his career as a rugged, physical defender that takes care of his own end and stands up for teammates.
Wrenn is a player I could see slipping a bit on draft day, just because teams might have a tough time figuring out where he fits in. He's a physical player, but at just over six feet tall, and under 200 lbs., it's unlikely he'll be a huge physical presence in a league filled with much bigger players. He's got great leadership abilities and captain potential, but if he projects out to being one of the bottom three defensemen on his NHL club, it's unlikely he'd be elected captain anyway, though teams can never have enough quality personalities in a lockerroom.
That said, Wrenn has too much talent to pass up completely, and after a few years at Denver under George Gwozdecky, he should turn into a very well-rounded, responsible defenseman that can contribute at the NHL level. Wrenn will likely be selected as high as the third round, but likely somewhere around the fourth round.
More on Wrenn after the jump.
Wrenn is pleased to be considered one of the better defensive-minded defenseman available in the 2009 Entry Draft, but he hopes his stellar gold-medal performance in April's World Under-18 Championship shows NHL scouts he also has a good offensive game.
That offensive game, however, is one he reined in to be the player his coaches wanted him to be throughout the season with the United States National Team Development Program.
NHL Central Scouting's Gary Eggleston said Wrenn "plays a smart and steady game. He skates very well and has good mobility. He passes the puck quickly out of his own end. He backs up the play and his partner very well, and is a reliable stay-at-home defenseman. He plays the body very well and is a physical presence. He works very hard game in and game out and is consistent in his overall play. He is smart and poised and doesn't get rattled when pressured."
"My strong point is playing hard, tough defense," Wrenn said. "I like to hit and be physical, get in kids' faces. I'm good making the first pass to get out of our zone and I'm well-positioned.
William or Bill? Doesn’t seem to matter. Nickname: Wrennie (no surprise).
How did a kid from Alaska end up in a Los Angeles hockey program?
"I played for the Alaska All-growing up and about age 12 I started going to tournaments a lot and played in California a couple of times," he said. There, he connected with Newell Brown, an assistant coach for the who also works with youth hockey in Los Angeles and eventually was invited to play for the LA Selects."
The caliber of hockey was better, Wrenn said, and his parents were open to the idea.
"They’ve always been behind me," he said. "They never told me what to do or what not to do. We weighed the pros and cons, but they left it up to me."
Wrenn has spent the past two years working with the U.S. national training and development program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, playing your basic collegiate schedule. The U.S. team beat Colorado College, held its own against the likes of Michigan and rarely was blown out, he said.
His parents still live in Anchorage and like the idea of having their son eventually playing in San Jose — 2,030 miles away but fairly close to home, at least by Alaskan standards.
"It’s a relatively short flight and you can’t complain about the weather, so I’m sure they’re excited about it," he said.
A montage of his goal scoring performance during the U18's can be found here, and a hit Wrenn delivered during the U17's can be found here. This post will hopefully be updated with more information- I'm still waiting for a couple emails from those familiar with Wrenn to bounce back my way.
Wrenn will be attending the University of Denver in the fall.