By Kevin Wickersham
The United States Hockey League and their alumni had a couple of banner days at the NHL Entry Draft with 48 players and former players selected. That’s nearly a quarter of all 217 draftees. Most of us know about Casey Mittelstadt and Eeli Tolvanen, and are getting more familiar with Josh Norris and Shane Bowers – all four first round picks fresh out of the league. USHL graduates Cal Foote, Ryan Poehling and Jake Oettinger are also well-known first day draftees, but later selections also offer promise for their new clubs. Here are a few:
Round 2 – 43rd overall – Dylan Samberg – Winnipeg Jets – D
The Jets get a physical, large-framed defenseman (6-03, 190-pounds) who moves around on his skates well and dishes out hard and effective hits. His USHL career spans six regular schedule and eight postseason contests, as he went straight from captaining Minnesota’s Hermantown High School squad as a senior (10 goals, 18 assists and 43 PIM in 25 games) and garnering All USA Hockey First Team recognition to the conclusion of the 2016-17 Waterloo Black Hawks campaign. Samberg can eat up tons of minutes and effectively quarterback the power play as well as kill penalties. He’s committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth starting this fall.
Round 2 – 61st overall – Grant Mismash – Nashville Predators – LW
Left winger Grant Mismash was an absolute heist for Nashville at 61. In his second campaign with the USHL’s USNTDP Juniors the 6-0, 185-pound University of North Dakota commit continued to flash his skill as a fast-skating, physical playmaker with excellent stick-handling ability and a wicked shot. He’s an all-around asset with a mean streak – a hard checker who wins most tough battles against the boards and fights well for position in front of the net. He can really overpower opponents when charging toward the net on offensive chances. It’s hard to envision him not making a difference at the NHL level once he develops further, perhaps as a tough second or third-line scoring wing. Mismash totaled eight goals and 16 assists in 26 USHL games, and 26 goals, 35 assists in 65 contests with the US Under-18 squad, totaling 150 penalty minutes between both. He also put on a good show at the U-18 WJCs with three goals and five assists in seven games, including a plus-four.
Round 3 – 81st overall – Reilly Walsh – New Jersey Devils – D
An offense-oriented defenseman, Walsh excels at moving the puck quickly up the ice and rifling dead-on wrist shots. His presence and relentless play elevates game pace, particularly in transition when dishing crisp and accurate passes to teammates in full stride. This, combined with his somewhat slight frame contradicts the prototypical blueliner mold as Walsh functions almost as a dangerous third wing at times. A beast on the power play. Can hold his own on defense but should focus on development in the NCAA. Diligent and competitive, he’ll certainly put in the time and effort to bulk up over the next few years at Harvard to help withstand the rigors of the professional game. Coached by ex-NHL/AHL father Mike in prep school, Walsh was member of 2017 USHL champ Chicago Steel.
Round 3 – 88th overall – Keith Petruzzelli – Detroit Red Wings – G
Keith Petruzzelli is highly praised by his former USHL squad Muskegon’s General Manager and ex-NHL goalie John Vanbiesbrouck for his reaction time, use of size and mental approach. Ranked first among North American goalie prospects in Central Scouting’s mid-terms, the physically-imposing Petruzzelli slipped below Boston University’s Jake Oettinger to second place on their final list. This may help him last into the third round. He plays in a very calm and relaxed manner, with recent comparisons made between the 6-05, 180-pound Quinnipiac commit and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, particularly in how he squares up to shots and exhibits solid rebound control. He registered a 22-10-1 record, 2.40 GAA and .918 SV% with the Lumberjacks this campaign. Won a silver medal with Team USA’s U18 squad in Hlinka.
Round 3 – 90th overall – Evan Barratt – Chicago Blackhawks – LW
Left wing Evan Barratt’s playmaking, solid two-way game, hustle and highly competitive nature add up to a promising complimentary forward with NHL potential. The 6-0, 188-pound Penn State commit averaged nearly a point per-game in Team USA’s USHL play with nine goals and 15 assists in 26 contests. He added an impressive 18 goals and 38 assists in 63 U.S. National U18 Team games. Barratt’s very hockey smart at age 18 and tenacious on the forecheck to compliment the physical components of his game.
Round 4 – 96th overall – Maksim Zhukov – Vegas Golden Knights – G
Large in net at 6-03, 181 pounds, Russian Maksim Zhukov impressed with Green Bay (19-8-1-1, 2.25 GAA, .913 SV%) in his first USHL season. Working mostly as a stay-at-home netminder who doesn’t leave the crease often but moves quickly and skillfully about it, regularly stationing himself at the top to cut off shots, Zhukov profiles as a starter at the NHL level. Exhibits lightning-like reflexes with the glove and has been known to really stand on his head, taking control of a game and willing his team to victory. Could develop further in terms of fending off rebounds, as well as maintaining his vision of pucks in heavy traffic, but a great deal to like here.
Round 4 – 102nd overall – Scott Reedy – San Jose Sharks – C/LW
Reedy’s a 6-01, 203-pound aggressive and effective center/left wing that flew somewhat under the radar. He might be a steal for the Sharks, as he was projected to go anywhere from the early 20s overall to late third. He’s a very physical and skilled scorer, outstanding puck-handler, and displays a knack for doing the right thing at the right time. Reedy uses his large frame and strength to blast opponents keeping him from the net, and can work his way out of the tightest traffic to create opportunities. In 2016-17 he totaled 32 goals, 24 assists and 90 PIM in 81 games between Team USA’s USHL play and the U.S. National U18 Team. A Minnesota native, Reedy has committed to the Golden Gophers.
Round 6 – 162nd overall – Jack Adams – Detroit Red Wings – C
At 20-years-old Jack Adams is an overage, 6-05, 211-pound power forward whose 37 goals in 56 Fargo Force contests topped the USHL. Diligent at his craft, the Massachusetts native increased his skating speed and skill last year which paid serious dividends with a 29-goal leap from 2015-16. Adams is money around the net and in traffic, especially tough against defenders who he just wears down with persistent physical play.
Round 7 – 199th overall – Cayden Primeau – Montreal Canadiens – G
Cayden Primeau had a tough year, finishing at 14-11-1-1 with a 3.16 GAA and .895 SV%. The son of 15-year NHL vet Keith Primeau has scouts raving as he profiles as a future NHL starter, but the Northeastern University commit clearly needs to develop further. At 6-03 180 pounds, Primeau covers the net effectively with a combination of size, agility, and positioning. Could improve his glove work and ability to block rebounds, but has ample time to refine his game. The New Jersey-born Primeau hangs tough tackling second and third-chance shots, as one can see some of his father’s resilience when facing barrages of shots while tending the Lincoln goal.
Round 7 – 214th overall – Matt Hellickson – New Jersey Devils – D
At 19, Hellickson is a puck-moving, strong-skating, overage prospect headed to Notre Dame for 2017-18. A Minnesota native with a left-handed shot, he was a two-year member of the United States National Team Developmental Program preceding 2016-17, dishing four assists in seven 2016 WJC-U18 contests. He spent last year wearing the “A” for USHL Clark Cup runner-up Sioux City’s blue line (6 goals, 22 assists and a 19-plus in 52 contests) earning a spot in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Praised for his poise, vision and passing ability.
Here’s the entire rundown:
2017 NHL Entry Draft Selections from USHL (* = USHL alumni)
8th – Casey Mittelstadt – Buffalo Sabres
14th – Cal Foote* – Tampa Bay Lightning
19th – Josh Norris – San Jose Sharks
25th – Ryan Poehling* – Montreal Canadiens
26th – Jake Oettinger*- Dallas Stars
28th – Shane Bowers – Ottawa Senators
30th – Eeli Tolvanen – Nashville Predators
43rd – Dylan Samberg – Winnipeg Jets
49th – Mario Ferraro – San Jose Sharks
52nd – Luke Martin* – Carolina Hurricanes
61st – Grant Mismash – Nashville Predators
66th – Max Gildon – Florida Panthers
71st – Kasper Kotkansalo – Detroit Red Wings
77th – Ben Mirageas – New York Islanders
81st – Reilly Walsh – New Jersey Devils
88th – Keith Petruzzelli – Detroit Red Wings
90th – Evan Barratt – Chicago Blackhawks
91st – Jack Badini – Anaheim Ducks
92nd – David Farrance – Nashville Predators
93rd – Clayton Phillips – Pittsburgh Penguins
95th – Jack Rathbone – Vancouver Canucks
96th – Maksim Zhukov – Vegas Golden Knights
99th – Jacob Bryson* – Buffalo Sabres
102nd – Scott Reedy – San Jose Sharks
103rd – Mikey Anderson – Los Angeles Kings
111th – Jeremy Swayman – Boston Bruins
126th – Michael Karow – Arizona Coyotes
133rd – Tyler Inamoto – Florida Panthers
134th – Cole Hults – Los Angeles Kings
137th – Noah Cates – Philadelphia Flyers
156th – Denis Smirnov – Colorado Avalanche
162nd – Jack Adams – Detroit Red Wings
174th – Morgan Barron – New York Rangers
177th – Skyler Brind'Amour – Edmonton Oilers
179th – Carson Meyer* – Columbus Blue Jackets
180th – Cole Guttman – Tampa Bay Lightning
184th – Sebastian Repo* – Florida Panthers
187th – Nick Leivermann – Colorado Avalanche
192nd – Linus Weissbach – Buffalo Sabres
196th – Wyatt Kalynuk – Philadelphia Flyers
199th – Cayden Primeau – Montreal Canadiens
200th – Sammy Walker – Tampa Bay Lightning
201st – Logan Cockerill – New York Islanders
208th – Phil Kemp – Edmonton Oilers
209th – Nick Swaney – Minnesota Wild
211th – Croix Evingson* – Winnipeg Jets
214th – Matt Hellickson – New Jersey Devils
215th – Josh Ess – Chicago Blackhawks
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