NHL draft tracker: Riley Tufte, Blaine High

Kelly Friesen
Minnesota native Riley Tufte is a potential first-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft. (MJoy Photography/Fargo Force)
Minnesota native Riley Tufte is a potential first-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft. (MJoy Photography/Fargo Force)

With an imposing 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame, it’s easy for Riley Tufte to stand out among his peers. He is not, however, a prototypical power forward, as he’s regarded as a larger skilled winger with an appealing combination of soft hands and a strong skating ability.

“I do see a big advantage to having size,” says Tufte, who is ranked 17th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. “I obviously have a long reach and can use my body to win battles.”

In his fourth season with Blaine High, the Ham Lake, MN., native dominated the Minnesota high school hockey scene this past year. He produced over three points per game with 47 goals and 78 points in 25 matches.

“Being here for four years, I’m used to the pace and know the league,” he says. “My teammates have been playing with me my whole life and we have lots of good chemistry. It’s helped me a lot this year to know what to expect.”

Tufte started the year with the USHL’s Fargo Force, who drafted him first overall in the 2014 USHL Futures Draft, but decided to return to Blaine High early on in the year to remain closer to family and friends. He has returned to the Force for the remainder of the season after his high school team’s season wrapped up.

“I wanted to go back and play with my buddies for one more year,” says Tufte, who has scored six goals and eight points in 17 contests with Fargo. “I didn’t think I had to be there yet and wanted to spend my last season with my buddies. I also wanted to win the state tournament, but that didn’t work out.”

Tufte, who turns 18 in April, is set to remain in the North Star State next season. He committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth back in 2014.

“It was a tough decision to decide which college, but they were the school that was always in the back of my mind,” he says. “I’m excited to go there and play for their program.”

1. How did you get involved in the game?

“My family is big involved in the game. My uncle, Craig Dahl, was the head coach of St. Cloud University and helped me get involved in it. He played a big role in that.”

2. Do you model your game after someone in the NHL?

“(Florida Panthers forward) Nick Bjugstad. He’s from Blaine and is really good family friends with my family. He’s also a bigger player like me and I think we play similar to each other.”

3. Who is your favourite NHL team?

“The Minnesota Wild just because I grew up in Minnesota. I’d have to go with them.”

4. If you weren’t entrenched in hockey, what other sport would you pursue?

“Probably baseball. I grew up playing it and it’s my second favourite sport.”

5. What’s your favourite movie or TV show?

Sandlot. It’s a good baseball movie and I enjoy watching it.”

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen