Shane Gersich hasn’t played a game in the United States Hockey League, but he’s already making his mark.
Omaha used the first overall pick in the USHL Futures Draft to take Gersich of Holy Family Catholic in Minnesota Tuesday. The five-foot-11, 175-pound forward scored 60 points in 21 games this season. He missed some time in the Minnesota High School season to go to Austria and represent the United States at the Youth Olympics in January.
Gersich, the nephew of legendary American hockey player Neal Broten, participated in the USNTDP U-17 Evaluation Camp in March but turned down an invitation to spend one more season at Holy Family. He plans to make the jump to the USHL the next fall, and follow in the footsteps of 2011 1st Overall Pick Taylor Cammarata, who made an immediate impact for the Waterloo Blackhawks this year by having one of the best seasons in recent memory for a 16-year-old.
The event gathers 15 of the 16 member clubs (The Unites States National Team Development Program does not participate in the Futures Draft nor the regular draft) to select players that are USHL-eligible for the first time, which come from a specific age group. 1996 birthdates are the focal point for this year’s edition of the Futures Draft.
The Draft order was a random lottery during the season with The Omaha Lancers getting the top pick. However, in an effort to make the Draft completely even in terms of draft picks, the Futures Draft is a snake draft, meaning Omaha will have the last pick of the second round. The players selected will go onto the Club’s affiliate lists, and can be put onto the active rosters at any time.
This also marks the first year the USHL has adopted the Tender System, which has residual effects on the Draft itself. Teams had the opportunity to sign as many as two players to tenders, meaning they get the kids they want but also will have to forgo their second round and third round picks in this year’s Futures Draft, depending on how many players the club chooses to tender. The players tendered will have to play more than half of the season with the team.
All in all 78 players will be taken, as 12 players had signed tenders already and will be in uniform next fall.
Two locations really supplied much of the talent selected- Minnesota High School hockey and Chicago-area programs like Mission, Team Illinois, and Chicago Young Americans. With that being said, players were also seemingly taken from everywhere; Arizona, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Quebec, and Ontario amongst other places. The Chicago Steel used their last pick to head to Sweden and select William Nylander, the son of former NHLer Michael Nylander.
The Draft tonight shows us the future of the future. While these players are simply Draft Picks in the USHL tonight, they will soon evolve into the stars of tomorrow.