In a draft where players’ names seldom ring bells in the heads of NHL draft followers, Tuesday’s USHL Entry Draft had quite the upgrade in players selected.
This year’s first round saw NHL Draft eligible players Adam Gilmour (second overall, Muskegon), MacKenzie MacEachern (fourth, Chicago), Chris Calnan (10th, Waterloo), Mark Jankowski (11th, Dubuque), and Peter Quenneville (13th, Dubuque) all selected.
MacEachern, Calnan, and Gilmour are projected to be a mid-to-late round selection and are ranked in the top 150 of Future Considerations’ final draft ranking. Jankowski could go as early as the late first round in Pittsburgh a month from now. Quenneville is also likely to be drafted as he is also ranked in Future Considerations’ final rankings. The five were not the only high profile players selected in the first fifteen selections as Connor Hurley, one of the top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft, was selected by Muskegon third overall.
When analyzing the annual USHL Entry Draft, one always looks for quantity of non-American players selected. This year saw an increase of six Canadian native players selected—including a whopping five in the first round.
Arguably the most intriguing Canadian selected was Quebec-native Frédéric Gauthier, who was selected ninth overall by the Youngstown Phantoms. The pick was intriguing in the fact that the Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL) would like to have him report this fall and forgo his commitment to Harvard University for 2013.
Europeans also saw an increase, with a total of nine selected—five more than the 2011 USHL Entry Draft. Frederik Tiffels from Germany was the first European selected after being taken by Muskegon 17th overall. Tiffels, who is eligible for next year’s NHL Draft, had 28 points in 36 games while playing in the top German junior league this season.
Possibly one of the most puzzling developments an hour into Tuesday’s draft was the selection of three National Team Development Program players in the first five rounds.
Connor Chatham, who was selected in the third round by the Omaha Lancers was the first player to be selected from the NTDP in the USHL Entry Draft. Shortly after the selection was announced, it was determined he would not be returning to the NTDP for his U18 season.
Questions on whether or not Dawson Cook, who was selected by Green Bay in the fourth round and Michael McCarron, who the Lincoln Stars took 23 picks after Cook, will be back to Ann Arbor were quickly brought up as each selection was announced. The speculation quickly ended after the draft concluded, with both Cook and McCarron tweeted they would be staying with the NTDP.
Fellow teammate of the three Gage Ausmus was also selected later in on the draft by Sioux Falls in the 17th round. Ausmus will likely play for Sioux Falls after in two seasons before making his way to the University of Denver.
The NTDP has a history of players leaving after their first season with the program. Last May, then-NTDP’s U17 defenseman Dakota Mermis was selected by Green Bay and promptly left the NTDP. Mermis is considered by most to be one of the top 125 available in this year’s NHL Draft.
The USHL is unique in that 15 year olds are eligible to be selected in the Entry Draft and play in the upcoming season. Current OHL players Nick Ebert and Anthony DeAngelo were selected in their first year of USHL Entry Draft eligibility and made their respective team months later as 15 year olds.
Tuesday’s draft saw three 1997 birth year players selected, the first being Cameron Askwe taken with the 89th selection by the Indiana Ice. Dubuque took another 1997 birth year shortly after with six-foot-three, 185 pound Noah Hanifin 131st overall.
While it is uncertain which players will make or report to their respective USHL teams this summer, the idea of seeing the next wave of future talent roll through the USHL has followers anxious for the start of next season. USHL followers will not have to wait long as next season is just around the corner with the annual Fall Classic beginning on September 19.
The annual USHL Entry Draft allows teams to select players with birth years between 1992 and 1997 and who not on one of the 15 member teams’ protected lists. A total of 210 players were selected.
The Sioux Falls Stampede took Tony Calderone with the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Calderone lead the Midwest Elite League in points this season while playing for the Victory Honda (Mich.) U18 program with 65 points in 40 games. The Trenton, Mich. native is eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft and is committed to the Princeton University for the 2014-15 season.
Much like the increases in Canadians and Europeans, the state of Massachusetts saw a sharp increase in the number of natives taken. Last year’s Entry Draft had seven Massachusetts-natives taken while this year had 16 taken.
The state of Minnesota continued to have the most players selected with 37 natives (17.6 percent of all players taken) in the draft—one less than the 2011 draft.
Two players who played in the NCAA were taken this year. Ben Gallacher (Ohio State) and Barrett Kaib (Providence College) were both taken in the first round. College players taken in the USHL Entry Draft typically plan on transferring and rather than sitting out a year will play a year in the USHL if junior eligible. St. Louis draft pick Max Gardiner played for Dubuque this season after leaving the University of Minnesota after his freshman year. Gardiner will join Penn State University in their inaugural season this fall.