Photo courtesy of the U.S. NTDP and Rena Laverty
On April 7th, 2021, USA Hockey will host its annual All-American game for draft-eligible players in the United States. The United States National Development Program will face off against top players in the USHL. I decided it would be fun to list some players I think will have a big impact on the game. Unfortunately, the top prospect from the US team, Luke Hughes, will be sidelined from the game due to an injury.
Check out the full roster here
Some defenseman that I feel will have a good game are Sean Behrens (LHD), Brent Johnson (RHD), and Ryan Ufko (RHD). Sean Behrens has had a solid year with the USNTDP. While being undersized at 5-foot-9, he plays a good two-way game. He is one of my favorite defenders on the US team, and now with Hughes missing from an injury, Behrens has some shoes to fill for the top-defender role. Overall, he is a mobile defenseman who moves the puck well.
Brent Johnson has been a big riser for the draft this year. The Sioux Falls Stampede defender plays right-handed and is excellent in the transition game. He is a good skater and has strong puck skills. On defense, he reads the opposition well and is not afraid to play the body.
Photo courtesy of https://www.sfstampede.com/
Ryan Ufko is an exciting defenseman from the dominant Chicago Steel team. Ufko is an undersized, but effective, two-way defenseman. The right-shot defender has a strong shot from the blue-line and has the ability to move the puck well in all three zones. He can break up plays with ease and push opponents to the outside.
Now onto some forwards, I feel will have a good game are Sasha Pastujov (LW), Chaz Lucius (C), Matthew Coronato (LW), and Cole Sillinger (C). Sasha Pastujov has been very good for the USNTDP team. Pastujov is phenomenal with the puck on his stick offensively, as he can display as a dual-threat scorer, who can make smart passes to teammates and get quality shots to the net. He can also be reliable on defense.
Chaz Lucius was injured for half of this year, but since coming back, it’s like he was never hurt. Lucius is one of the most thrilling players in the draft class. He has an excellent shot that he can rip from anywhere in the offensive zone. His hockey IQ makes him a very good passer as well. In eight games since his return to the U18s, he has scored 10 goals.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. NTDP and Rena Laverty
Matthew Coronato has been one of the most thrilling draft-eligibles in the USHL this year. He has torn up the league, setting records, with 39 goals and 33 assists for 72 total points. The Harvard commit is catching the eyes of scouts with his ability to go from zero to hundred up ice with the puck. His good skating skills help him do an adequate job of finding space to make a play, whether it is feeding a teammate a pass or finishing a shot, he can be flat out dangerous when he has the time and space.
Cole Sillinger is new to the USHL this year, as he played last season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. But because of the shutdown this year, he transferred to play this season in the US. He has done well so far with 21 goals and 19 assists for 40 total points. Sillinger is not the best skater on the ice by any means, but he is very strong and can hold his ground well. He can also make good plays with his skilled stickhandling ability or use his powerful shot to try and score.
USHL Goalies: Remington Keopple (2021) and Colin Purcell (2021).
Keopple currently plays for the Des Moines Buccaneers and is a 2021 NHL Draft overager at 19-years old. He’s played 19 games this year with Bucs and has posted a 3.08 GAA and a .886 save percentage.
Colin Purcell photo courtesy of Youngstown Phantoms
Colin Purcell currently plays for the Youngstown Phantoms and is another 2021 NHL Draft overager. The University of Massachusetts commit has played nine games for the Phantoms and has a 4.38 GAA and a .867 save percentage.
USNTDP Goalies: Gibson Homer (2022) and Kaidan Mbereko (2021)
Gibson Homer is a draft-eligible for the 2022 draft and has played a good amount of games with the U18s. In 24 games with the U18s, Homer has a 2.77 GAA and a .880 save percentage. In 14 games with the U17s, he has a 3.42 GAA and a .852 save percentage. He is committed to the University of Miami (Ohio).
.Photo Courtesy of Rena Laverty and the NTDP
Kaidan Mbereko is a goalie prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft. He has played 16 games for the USNTDP U18s and has a 3.03 GAA and a .877 save percentage. He played three games with the U17s and picked up a 1.97 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
The players that are listed above are some of the top eligibles for the upcoming draft. But here are some honorable mentions to keep an eye on: Tristan Broz (LW), Dylan Duke (C), Matthew Samoskevich (C/W) and Red Savage (C/LW).
Follow Clare on Twitter at @claremcmanuss for more on the USHL and the NHL Draft