As we hit the final third of the 60-game USHL season and head toward the Clark Cup Playoffs, several notable prospects have made lasting impressions. Last year 45 USHL players and alumni were drafted by NHL teams, and quite a few will surely be selected in the 2017 draft as well. Let’s take a look at some of the USHL’s most promising.
Casey Mittelstadt C/LW (Green Bay) #5 NA Central Scouting Midterm Rankings
Compared to John Tavares and Tyler Seguin by NHL Central Scouting, Mittelstadt has been frequently mocked in the top five of this June’s draft, going a few spots before Eeli Tolvanen. Determined to chase the Minnesota State Championship with his Eden Prairie High School classmates, Mittelstadt gained increased recognition when he chose to leave the Gamblers 16 games into the 2016-17 campaign while leading the USHL in scoring with eight goals and 13 assists. He will return to Green Bay after the March tournament. At 6'1" and 201 pounds, the soon-to-be University of Minnesota Golden Gopher is the real deal with size, elite-level skill, speed and hockey smarts revealed by his superior puck handling, positioning and ability to initiate complex and deceptive offensive plays. In addition to his prolific scoring, he has a great work ethic and doesn’t back down when challenged by larger, stronger opponents.
Video: Casey Mittelstadt two-goal Night 10/6/16:
Eeli Tolvanen – RW (Sioux City) #7 NA Central Scouting Midterm Rankings
A lock for the early first round of this June’s NHL Draft, the 5'10", 170-pound Finnish forward has not disappointed in his second campaign with the Sioux City Musketeers. Following up his 2015-16 totals of 17 goals and 21 assists in 49 games, the Boston College commit is averaging slightly more (17 G, 15 A in 31 games) than the point-per-game pace the 17 year-old achieved on Finland’s 2017 WJC squad with four goals and two assists in six games. A deadly offensive threat with speed to spare and an extremely quick, forceful shot (leads the USHL with 157 SOG) that he needs little space to release.
Video: Eeli Tolvanen 2015-16 Highlights Sioux City Musketeers and Team Finland
Shane Bowers – C (Waterloo) #13 NA Central Scouting Midterm Rankings
With 15 goals and 17 assists in 40 Black Hawk games, the 17 year-old Halifax native is just one point behind his 56-game USHL total of last season in 16 fewer contests. Projected as a mid-to-late first round draft pick this June, the 6'1", 170-pound Bowers has committed to Boston University. In his short time with Waterloo, he has proven to be a hardworking player who excels in all zones and uses explosive bursts of speed to create distance from opposing defenders. Willing to play tough in the corners and elsewhere, it takes a lot to knock him off the puck. He shows impressive hockey smarts and a gritty defensive game that accents his effective all-around play. Bowers was named USHL Forward of the Week at the end of January after scoring three goals and two assists in three games.
Video: Shane Bowers one goal, one assist vs Phantoms, Nov 4 2016
Keith Petruzzelli – G (Muskegon) #1 NA Goalie Central Scouting Midterm Rankings
Highly praised by Muskegon general manager and former NHL goalie John Vanbiesbrouck for his reaction time, use of his size and mental approach to the game, Petruzzelli was recently named MVP for Team East of the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game stopping all 21 shots he faced. This marked the first time a goalie has been named MVP for the annual event. Plays in a very calm and relaxed manner. With recent improvements to his game, several comparisons have been made between the 6'5", 180-pound Quinnipiac commit and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, particularly in how he squares up to shots and exhibits solid rebound control. Petruzelli has a 13-8-0 record with a 2.67 GAA and .906 SV% with the Lumberjacks this campaign.
Video: Keith Petruzzelli Saves 11/3/16
Grant Mismash – LW (Team USA) #30 NA Central Scouting Midterm Rankings
In his second campaign with the USNTDP Juniors, the 6'0", 185 pound University of North Dakota commit continues to flash his skill as a fa