That’s not a bad way to make an introduction.
With the 2019 NHL Draft class just starting to hit its stride on the ice, 42 of the top US-born eligibles gathered to showcase their wares at the 2018 USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Wednesday.
Many of the 42 players in attendance didn’t disappoint.
Matthew Boldy scored twice, including the game-tying goal with 1:07 left in regulation to lift Team Langenbrunner to a 6-4 win over Team Leopold. He was named the game’s most valuable player for his efforts. Marshall Warren added a goal and two assists in the single exhibition, and Cole Caufield found the back of the net twice for Team Leopold.
Jack Hughes, the consensus top pick for the 2019 draft, delivered as expected. Alex Turcotte, ranked second, did as well.
Here now is a look at the top performers from the showcase who are eligible in 2019.
Matthew Boldy, F, Team Langenbrunner, 6-0, 174, DOB 4-5-2001
Boldy, as mentioned, led the showcase with two goals, and chipped in an assist for a three-point game for Team Langenbrunner. He remained dangerous throughout, and fired six pucks on the net of Team Leopold before ending the game with a plus-3 rating. Statistics aside, he showcased himself well, constantly displaying his ability to haul the puck into the offensive zone and generate chances off the rush.
“He’s a strong shooter and creative passer,” Future Considerations scout Chuck Chesnutt said. “Boldy seemingly creates scoring chances on every shift or is at the very least pushing the pace of play by joining in on the rush to outnumber opposing defenders.”
Trevor Zegras, C, Team Langenbrunner, 5-11, 159, DOB 03-20-2001
Zegras closed the game with one goal and four shots for Team Langenbrunner, and was seemingly a factor in the game all night. He displayed his non-stop motor in the game, something that didn’t go unnoticed by those watching. That effort was matched by his ability to process the game, another facet of his play that was appreciated in the one-off.
“Zegras was one of the hardest working skaters on the ice,” Future Considerations scout Keith Fries said. “His high compete level and hockey IQ were both on display. He’s a shifty skater that can really dance with his opponents, and was slippery enough to avoid contact while pushing the pace of play. He was really noticeable. It was a good outing for Zegras, in this one.”
Marshall Warren, D, Team Langenbrunner, 5-11, 161, DOB 4-20-2001
Warren led all defensemen in the game, and tied Boldy for most in the game, with three points (one goal, two assists). Warren was effective from the back end, also registering four shots on goal, in providing a second-wave offensive punch. His passing game, particularly on outlets, was also on display in the game. It’s arguably the best asset the Harvard University-commit has in his arsenal.
“He possesses elite hockey sense to consistently look to make deep passes down ice to spring his teammates, has uncanny ability to make the right decision quickly and while under duress to get the puck out of danger without making an erroneous pass,” Future Considerations scout Zack Thompson said.
Jack Hughes, C, Team Leopold, 5-10, 165, DOB 5-14-2001
Hughes, as the projected No. 1 pick come June, brought plenty of fanfare to the event. He didn’t disappoint. He left the exhibition with a goal and an assist to pace Team Leopold, and led the single-game affair with eight shots. Expectations were high on Hughes, and some would call his night quiet by his standards, but the 17-year-old old still showcased all those skills that make the strong majority consider Hughes as the top talent — bar none — in this year’s draft class.
“He simply processes the game at a much higher level than his peers and his tremendous skating abilities and excellent vision ensure that he always stays a few steps ahead of the opposition,” Chesnutt said. “His high-end speed and creative passing plays make it difficult for defenders to anticipate whether or not he’s going to try and put a shot on net or look for an open teammate to hand the puck off too.”
Alex Turcotte, F, Team Team Langenbrunner, 5-11, 194, DOB 2-25-2001
Turcotte, second only to Hughes in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking for the 2019 draft, wasn’t shy in the showcase. He finished with two assists, both primary helpers, one shot, and a plus-1 rating for Team Langenbrunner. Further to the point, Turcotte showcased why he’s considered one of the top prospects eligible for the 2019 draft class. His vision was on display, something that scouts were more than happy to see.
“He’s a high-end playmaking forward,” Thompson said. “Turcotte has the ability to push the pace of the play and carry the puck through the neutral zone into the offensive end at full speed while using elite hockey sense to find open teammates. He’s was able to show that he’s got all those tools and a tool box, too.”