UND commits Dylan James, Jake Livanavage shoot up NHL Draft rankings
James, an incoming freshman forward, could be a second-round pick.
GRAND FORKS — Dylan James entered this season as a bit of an unknown.
He barely played a year earlier due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions and shutdowns in Alberta.
But the UND commit made a name for himself this season with the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League by becoming the league's first rookie in six years to tally 60 points in the regular season.
James popped onto the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's midterm draft rankings in January at No. 67 and he continued his ascent to No. 37, where he landed in the final rankings released Thursday morning.
That means James could wind up going as high as the second round in July's NHL Draft.
Two other UND commits landed on the list. Defenseman Jake Livanavage is at No. 54 and defenseman Tyler Dunbar is at No. 175.
Livanavage, who plays for the Chicago Steel in the USHL, was another fast riser, shooting up 36 spots from January to May. Livanavage and Dunbar are projected to come to UND in the fall of 2023.
Two other players from the area landed on the list. Warroad High forward Daimon Gardner, a Clarkson commit, is at No. 97. Grand Forks native Cole Spicer, a Minnesota Duluth forward commit, is at No. 121.
James will be one of four freshman forwards for UND next season, joining 2021 NHL Draft picks Jackson Blake (Carolina Hurricanes) and Owen McLaughlin (Philadelphia Flyers), as well as draft-eligible forward Ben Strinden of Fargo.
Strinden didn't land on Central Scouting's final rankings list, but there's still a good chance he will get picked. Central Scouting often focuses on first-year draft eligible players. Strinden is in his third and final year of draft eligibility.
The 6-foot, 181-pound James isn't a flashy player, but has a lot of substance to his game. He's an explosive skater who can separate from opponents with his speed. He frequently goes to the top of the crease, where he scored the majority of his 28 goals this season.
James, who plays left wing on Sioux City's top line alongside McLaughlin, is a terrific penalty killer for the Musketeers, who are coached by Luke Strand and former UND alternate captain Colten St. Clair. He also plays the net-front spot on the power play.
James, McLaughlin and Sioux City are currently in the USHL's Clark Cup Playoffs. They begin their best-of-five Western Conference Finals series against the Tri-City Storm on Friday.
Livanavage, who is a junior in high school, finished ninth among all USHL defensemen in scoring this season, tallying 45 points in 61 games. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound blue liner from Gilbert, Ariz., is shifty on the back end and generates offense through his skating.
Dunbar, who plays for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, finished the regular season with 25 points in 61 games. Dunbar, Strinden and the Lumberjacks open the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday against Madison.
The NHL Draft is scheduled for July 7-8 in Montreal.
Notables in NHL Central Scouting rankings
37. Dylan James, F, UND commit
54. Jake Livanavage, D, UND commit
97. Daimon Gardner, F, Warroad High (Clarkson commit)
121. Cole Spicer, F, Grand Forks (Minn Duluth commit)
175. Tyler Dunbar, D, UND commit