On Sept. 29, 40 of the top American players for the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft will be showcased at the First Niagara Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres, in the inaugural CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game. Now we know who they’ll all be as USA Hockey unveiled the roster earlier Wednesday and it should be a good one.
Four goaltenders, 12 defensemen and 24 forwards will be split into competing squads at a later date, but the list USA Hockey has compiled gives us the first indication of the best the 2013 American draft class has to offer. All the players invited are either in their first or second year of NHL Draft eligibility.
A lot will change over the course of the season as many of these players will rise and fall throughout the year, but by being selected to this game, the players participating will have a great opportunity to make an early statement in their all-important draft-eligible season.
Coming up after the jump some brief thoughts on the roster.
– Full roster available here.
– Of the 40 players invited to camp, 32 have played in the United States Hockey League at some point. Twenty two are veterans of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. Four played in the Canadian Hockey League (2 OHL, 1 QMJHL, 1 WHL) last year, with two more expected to join them next year. Five of the players invited played in the U.S. high school ranks last year.
– Twenty eight of the players invited have already committed to 15 different NCAA Division I schools. Michigan leads the way with five commits invited, while Boston College and Denver have four apiece competing.
– Fourteen different states will be represented with Minnesota leading the charge with seven participants. Michigan and Illinois have six apiece, Massachusetts will send five and New York has four natives attending.
– The roster was put together by USA Hockey in collaboration with NHL Central Scouting Services.
Players to Watch
Well, since it’s a top prospects game, so all of the players are technically ones to watch. This game should be a good glimpse of the wide array of talent available in the 2013 NHL Draft. Typically, anywhere from 55 to 60 Americans will be selected in a given Draft, so to have 40 of the suggested top prospects
Seth Jones is certainly the headliner of the group. The big defenseman will be headed to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks next season. He is expected to push Nathan MacKinnon for the first overall spot throughout the season. For my money, Jones is the best American-born draft prospect since Patrick Kane in 2007.
He has immense skills from puck handling to skating to hockey sense. There isn’t much that’s not elite about this kid. He thinks the game like a longtime NHL veteran making plays you almost never expect. He is going to draw the most eyeballs during the game.
Adam Erne is another guy who will be kept a close watch on. It’ll be a busy year for Erne, who is set to lead the U.S. U18 Select Team into the Ivan Hlinka in a few weeks. He had a terrific rookie campaign for the Quebec Remparts, putting up 55 points in 2011-12.
The big forward has a solid frame and is tough to get off the puck. He’s showed good vision, solid puck skills and a pro-level shot. We’ve seen players that had early success like Erne dramatically tail off in their draft season as their peers catch up to them physically. As long as Erne keeps taking steps forward developmentally, he should avoid the same fate.
Ian McCoshen of the Waterloo Black Hawks, like Erne, was in the USHL by age 15. He’ll enter his third season in the league which will bring heightened expectations of the big defenseman from Hudson, Wis. McCoshen will not be playing in the major scouting event that is the Ivan Hlinka. Instead, will playing for Waterloo in the World Junior Club Cup in Russia, which is not expected to draw many scouts, so this All-American prospects game could be a big showcase for him.
McCoshen skates well and has a big body. He’s shown good offensive tools from the blue line and can bring the physical game. McCoshen is going to have a ton of eyes on him as there is so much expected, so this could be a big opportunity for him.
One of the more intriguing decisions to go along with this roster is the decision to include second-year draft eligible players. Considering this is supposed to be the best the U.S. has to offer, it’s an interesting decision to bring in guys that got passed over just a few weeks ago.
A total of
six nine second-year eligibles will be playing including Jacob Montgomery, Devin Tringale, Jared Rutledge, Dakota Mermis, Cody Corbett, Matt Lane, Austin Farley, Frankie Vatrano and Quentin Shore.
It’s good that these guys are going to get a big-time opportunity to get scouted in a major event. I was definitely surprised when most of the players in this group didn’t get called on Draft day and would assume most, if not all of them, will get big time consideration in their second year of eligibility.
That said, it raises a little concern that there weren’t enough first-year eligibles to fill out a 40-man roster. Just doesn’t bring a lot of confidence about the overall depth of the American draft class.
With this event in its infancy, I’m really looking forward to how it all plays out. Clearly, they have a terrific venue and a solid group of players including some sure-fire first-round talent.
The stage is set to start a new tradition to showcase the best the U.S. has to offer in terms of NHL prospects. Having them all under one roof from a wide variety of teams and leagues is such a good idea, I wonder why it took them so long to think it up.
Needless to say, I’m glad it exists and hope the first year is enough of a success to keep it going.
As we get closer to the event, expect full player-by-player breakdowns of the roster right here on United States of Hockey.