USHL Report – June 2019
It is always exciting covering prospects from the USHL. Draft evaluations begin to take over this time of year. However, there is always time for the latest from the league. Overall, it was a month of great plays, saves, and more.
The playoffs ended as the Clark Cup Final finished with Sioux Falls crowned the champion. After that, there is the matter of the NHL Draft which takes place next Friday in Vancouver.
Clark Cup Final Recap
The playoffs always have an unexpected result or two, but Chicago looked on the verge of tying Sioux Falls when the Stampede found a way to push one into the back of the net in double overtime. That changed the series and Game three was essentially a Sioux Falls cakewalk (a 5-1 rout). The sweep was then complete.
Sam Stevens led the way in a balanced effort for the Stampede with a goal, assist, and five shots. Overall, the final game featured five different goal scorers for Sioux Falls and a 20 save effort for Jaxson Stauber. One of the underrated aspects of the series was the Stampede’s ability to draw penalties. Game three saw Sioux Falls wind up with five power play opportunities overall.
The Stevens goal was short-handed which made it 3-0 and effectively ended the game. Chicago would score late in the third period, but Sioux Falls added two empty-net goals to complete the scoring. With that, the new champion was crowned.
The NHL Draft Beckons…
As the NHL Draft approaches, the USHL has a ton of draft profiles available on their website – including Jack Hughes, Cole Caufield, and Alex Turcotte among others. Jack Hughes is expected to go first to New Jersey next Friday night. However, after that, it is a bit wide open once we get to the third pick. Will Spencer Knight get drafted in the first round? Where does Bobby Brink wind up? There are lots of questions to sort out.
This is likely one of the most stacked USNTDP/USHL classes ever. With so many players going early in the draft, it will be intriguing to see how many of these picks pan out. Then, there are the Roberto Mastrosimone’s of the world. Mastrosimone could surprise teams as he has been a bit underrated throughout this season.
Again, the tipping point is the third pick of round one. After that, players could go anywhere. It is that unknown which makes drafts so much guesswork. Either way, an extensive draft recap will be featured next month on the USHL Report.
The Breakout Surprise
Finally, one player who truly helped his draft stock was Egor Afanasyev. Afanasyev is a likely first-round pick now after a breakout season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Overall, the forward scored 27 goals and 62 points in 58 games. That included a seven- game point streak where he racked up 14 points. For a big guy, Afanasyev carries a good deal of speed and has improved his skating dramatically from a year ago.
At the next level, the forward must learn more of that balance which he harnessed this season. Afanasyev combines the package of playmaker and sniper with a dash of speed. He has been a fun player to watch all season. Though he likely would not make an NHL impact for at least 2-3 years, Egor Afanasyev will be a player to watch nonetheless in the future.
That is all for now. You can follow me on Twitter @ChrisWasselDFS for the latest hockey and hockey prospect news. See you next month with the latest from the USHL.