The third and closing main all-star sport of the North American junior hockey tour – the CHL and CJHL video games passed off final week – was a little bit of a dud, action-wise.
The BioSteel All-American Prospect Recreation at USA Hockey Area in Plymouth, Mich., changed the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Recreation and the USHL Prime Prospects Recreation, which allowed for extra prospects to be cut up up between two occasions. The brand new format noticed the Underneath-18 USA Hockey Nationwide Staff Growth Program tackle the highest NHL draft-eligible gamers from the USHL, going underneath the crew names of Staff Knuble (U.S. NTDP) and Staff Gomez (USHL). Staff Knuble was dominant from the get-go, taking the 6-1 victory within the showcase occasion.
However just like the CHL and CJHL contests, the rating solely mattered a lot. The occasion was all about evaluating expertise. At this level within the yr, NHL scouts have a strong grasp on the highest performers, so exhibitions resembling this assist affirm ideas concerning the particular person gamers. No person jumps up the draft rankings dramatically, however shock performances might help fringe gamers. A 3-point night time doubtless helped Hunter Strand’s scenario, however he’s not eligible till 2021. The true focus was on the 2020 draft, and regardless of the actual fact the American draft class is barely weaker than it was final yr when 11 United States merchandise have been drafted within the first spherical, there was nonetheless some notable expertise on show forward of what’s being referred to as the strongest draft since 2003.
Right here’s a take a look at 10 of the very best performers from Monday night:
Jake Sanderson, D (NHL CS Rank: 11)Sanderson was the spotlight of the showcase, throwing huge hits, skating lengthy lengths with the puck and making highlight-reel passes. He was the simple alternative for MVP. The highest American for the 2020 draft, Sanderson is a great defenseman who is aware of when to take dangers and has a backup plan if these dangers don’t pan out. As he showcased Monday, Sanderson makes use of his velocity to place create alternatives and wastes no time getting again in place after a rush. The son of former NHLer Geoff Sanderson, the 17-year-old is every little thing you need out of a modern-day defenseman and might be an enormous addition in a draft the place protection takes a backseat to pure offensive expertise.
Ty Smilanic, C (NHL CS Rank: 18)The 2019-20 season hasn’t been form to Smilanic, who has missed a mixed 13 video games attributable to a sprained ankle, mononucleosis and a damaged finger. Actually, he skated in Monday’s contest with a finger forged, nevertheless it didn’t appear to cease him from being considered one of Staff Knuble’s most noticeable gamers. By all of the accidents, Smilanic has been strong with 14 factors in 21 video games with the U-18 crew, this after his 20 objectives and 38 factors have been one shy of the crew scoring lead final season. By way of pure goal-scorers, Smilanic is without doubt one of the finest choices from the US. As soon as he’s again to full well being, followers will get a greater take a look at his means.
Thomas Bordeleau, C (NHL CS Rank: 26)A twin citizen of Canada and the US (his dad, Sebastien, truly represented France internationally), Bordeleau helped arrange Luke Tuch’s aim within the second interval to negate any momentum Staff Knuble might have had. The playmaking heart is likely to be the very best passer within the nation and simply probably the greatest playmakers within the draft, as proven by a couple of artful give-and-go performs Monday. A wise two-way heart, Bordeleau has improved his power over the previous few years. He doesn’t get knocked round as usually as he did again in midget AAA.
Brendan Brisson, C (NHL CS Rank: 31)Regardless of a scoreless outing in Plymouth, Brisson has had a wild few weeks. Brisson was the very best participant on the World Junior A Problem with 5 objectives and 12 factors, and previous to the all-star outing on Monday, Brisson was coming off of a five-point run in two video games with USHL Chicago. Not an enormous child at 5-foot-11, Brisson showcased wonderful velocity and talent with the puck and had a couple of good rushes within the first half of Monday’s battle. It will be nice if he had a bit extra dimension, however Brisson has uncooked expertise.
Luke Tuch, LW (NHL CS Rank: 35)It is likely to be a lazy comparability, however Luke performs a sport similar to that of his older brother, Vegas Golden Knights ahead Alex. A giant, 6-foot-2 ahead, Tuch is a robust child who creates havoc across the crease and he was rewarded with a aim within the second interval. A Boston College commit for 2021, Tuch places a variety of energy behind his shot and he strikes properly for an enormous child, too. Knocking the puck off of him is a problem.
Brett Berard, RW (NHL CS Rank: 36)Berard is that this yr’s “good participant, however fairly small” choice on the U.S. NTDP, and he showcased how impactful he might be with a aim and an help Monday. Tiny but shifty, Berard received his aim on a breakaway on his first shift of the sport and was buzzing across the internet for the rest of the night time. Berard has 14 objectives with this system this yr, trailing Bordeleau by one for the crew lead. Most notably, Berard’s 12 objectives at 5-on-5 and 4 game-winning objectives put him first in each classes. Berard will fall down the draft rankings attributable to his dimension, however he’s a strong middle-six scoring choice.
Tyler Kleven, D (NHL CS Rank: 44)Sanderson’s largest competitors for the highest defenseman on the U.S. NTDP, Kleven had a aim and an help and showcased his blast of a shot from the purpose on multiple event. Monday’s contest was an enormous one for Kleven, who recorded two factors for the primary time in junior hockey. He’s not a high-output defenseman – his 16 factors in 85 video games with this system confirms that – however Kleven’s actual talent is his lateral quickness and easy stride, an incredible high quality in a 6-foot-Four and 201-pound defender. Kleven isn’t afraid to get bodily alongside the boards and whereas he doesn’t put many pucks within the internet, he’s misleading with the puck and might drag opponents lengthy sufficient earlier than making a wise go.
Sean Farrell, LW (NHL CS Rank: 53)Additionally a member of the stacked Chicago USHL crew, Farrell didn’t put some extent on the board however his play away from the puck was notable. The 5-foot-9 ahead possesses nice velocity and was at all times on the assault. He had a couple of noteworthy breakout passes, too. Farrell is a robust passer, as proven by his league-leading 30 assists and 40 factors in 28 video games. His 1.50 points-per-game common is nice for 10th amongst non-U.S. NTDP USHLers since 1999-00 and there are not any indicators he’s slowing down. So long as he continues to enhance in his personal zone, Farrell might be worth pickup on the draft.
Drew Commesso, G (NHL CS Rank: 2G)Commesso, a Boston College commit for 2020, was truly the quietest goalie on Monday, however of his 10 stops, there have been a couple of huge ones that stood out. Particularly, a pair of breakaway saves within the first interval that stored the sport tied at one. Clearly, it’s nonetheless early, however Commesso’s .921 save proportion in 17 video games with the U-18 crew this yr ties John Gibson for the very best mark in program historical past amongst goalies with a minimum of 15 stars. That’s a showcase of some upside given the U-18 crew’s general weaknesses in comparison with the powerhouse crew from final yr. The very best 2002-born goalie within the nation, Commesso is assured and doesn’t let a foul aim get to him.
Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, LW (NHL CS Rank: 212)Fontaine didn’t discover the scoresheet – that’s going to occur when your crew’s solely aim comes with the person benefit – however he had a pair shut calls within the second half of Monday’s sport and some thrilling strikes up his sleeve. The 5-foot-9 ahead performs the same model to Brisson: velocity, velocity and extra velocity. Fontaine made main noise on the World Junior A Problem with 10 factors, together with a late game-tying aim and the time beyond regulation winner in a 5-Four thriller over the Czech Republic in December. And, sure, he has the very best title within the draft.
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Tags: prospectsConnect: In regards to the AuthorSteven EllisSteven Ellis is a Digital Content material Producer for The Hockey Information. He spends his free time listening to music you would not like and watches obnoxiously-long motor races.