Americans set to shine in Prospects Game

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After last year saw just one American invited to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, American born players will have a much larger showing at this year’s game in Halifax Wednesday.

Five Americans will play in Wednesday’s game, tying the record set most recently in 2011.

Portland’s Seth Jones, Kitchener’s Justin Bailey and Quebec’s Adam Erne are slated to suit up for Team Orr while Plymouth’s Ryan Hartman and Oshawa’s Cole Cassels will be upfront for Team Cherry. Of the five, Jones and Erne currently sit 2nd and 24th respectively, in Future Considerations’ December Ranking for the 2013 NHL Draft.

Jones has had a stellar year for the WHL’s Winterhawks and will captain Team Orr on Wednesday. Jones recently came back from the 2013 World Junior Championship where another solid showing continues to put him in the argument for the top selection in June.

The reigning Hockey Soda Energy Defenseman of the Month  is no stranger to prospect games this season as he played in USA Hockey’s All-American Prospects Game in September, recording a goal. Jones currently has eight goals and 20 assists in 31 games as a rookie in Portland.

Erne will enter Wednesday’s game as one of the top CHL scorers to play in the game. Erne sits 9th in the QMJHL in points with 53 in 41 games. This is Erne’s first big event to show his talents after dropping out of the All-American Prospects Game and missing out at a chance to play for the US in the World Juniors.

Hartman sits just outside the Top 30, but after a strong showing at the World Juniors still makes a strong case for being a late first round pick in June. Hartman has 12 goals and 17 assists in his first 33 OHL games. The West Dundee, Ill. product can play a variety of roles including a top six forward or on a team’s checking line. Hartman typically plays center but can also play the right wing as he showed over in Ufa. He is expected to skate alongside Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon in the game.

Bailey, who missed three weeks and the All-American Prospects Game at the beginning of the season due to a concussion, has been an important contributor for the Rangers with nine goals and six assists in 31 games. The Williamsville, N.Y. native also leads the team with a plus-10 plus/minus. Bailey remains a top sixty prospect heading into the game.

Much like the other four Americans, Cassels was invited to the All-American Prospects Game and while the Columbus, Ohio native did not register a point, he was the top faceoff man in the game. The son of former NHL player Andrew Cassels has 26 points in 40 games for the Generals this season. Cassels was a late addition to the Top Prospects Game and replaces William Carrier after Carrier pulled out due to injury.

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