The 2021 Biosteel All-American Game is a yearly event in which the top USHL prospects face each other in front of a crowd of scouts, looking intently for talent to pick up in the upcoming 2021 NHL Draft. This year’s face-off was between a team of USHL all-stars and the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP), both engaging in a passionate, physical bout to showcase their abilities in front of an attentive audience of high-profile names such as Stan Bowman (GM, Chicago Blackhawks) and John Vanbiesbrouck (GM, 2022 U.S. National junior team).
The heavily-televised event has immense potential for any prospect looking to throw their name in the mix, and prove to scouts that they might have underestimated them. We will take a look below at the All-American Game’s standouts and determine which prospect managed to raise their stock the most after this contest.
The game began with intensity; both teams’ players well aware that scouts are watching, and wanting to draw their eyes. One thing was very clear throughout this contest: the USHL All-Stars team was a collection of great individuals, whereas the USNTDP was a well-oiled machine of players used to playing together. This reflected itself in the score, as the Program ran away with this game, 7-1. The chemistry shown by each line, and their understanding of head coach Dan Muse’s systems, made this a runaway win for the U18 team.
The 2022 Draft-eligible crop of Logan Cooley, Isaac Howard, and Rutger McGroarty was prominent in this game, showing impressive compete and drive despite the older competition and lower stakes. However, the interest of this list will be in the 2021 Draft-eligibles who stood out from the rest, and who could get picked earlier than predicted
Mackie Samoskevich, USHL all-stars, C (45th on the March 2021 Ranking)
Samoskevich’s game truly shined in this high-pace, back-and-forth bout, as he truly improves when the game speeds up. His reactivity, soft stickhandling, and East-West vision allowed him to manipulate opponents with ease even as the intensity dialed up, keeping a cool head and finding the right seams to keep the play moving. It’s unfortunate how dominant the USNDTP was, as most scouts will come away unimpressed by many of the USHL all-stars despite some of them showing more-than-decent ability in this game.
Red Savage, USNTDP, C (89th on the March 2021 ranking)
Savage is a prospect who mostly flies under the radar, as his style is mainly defense-oriented and his offensive contributions leave most scouts wanting more. However, Savage is one of the most consistently strong defensive contributors among the available forwards in this draft. His never-give-up mentality on loose pucks and forechecks, as well as his ability to use his body and stick jointly to strip pucks from defenders make him especially proficient in prolonging offensive zone sequences. His two points (1G, 1A) in this game resulted from his tenacity and reactions, and these tools should follow him wherever his ceiling lands him.
Sasha Pastujov, USNTDP, LW/RW (40th on the March 2021 Ranking)
Pastujov scored two goals in this game, and showed a decent amount of compete and skill to compliment his growing defensive game; his ability to be aware of the puck at all times is a top-end tool, but his skating and playing pace will need to improve at least marginally in order to succeed in the NHL one day. Still, his intelligence and ability to dictate play were on display in this contest, and his stock should rise ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft.
Sean Behrens, USNTDP, LHD (53rd on the March 2021 Ranking)
Behrens was probably the best defender on the ice last night, although the scoresheet does not indicate how involved he was. He regularly took the puck himself into the offensive zone, occasionally attempting to surprise the goalie himself on the entry. He played decent pucks out of his own end, allowing the Program’s forwards to play with much more pace on the counter, and broke up more than his share of plays. His game is anticipation-based, and he shows the tools required to make it as a defenseman at higher levels. His stock should see an increase over the next few weeks, leading into the upcoming draft.
Liam Gilmartin, USNTDP, RW (Unrated, 2021 Draft-eligible)
Gilmartin is yet another underrated forward from the Program; he understands his responsibilities at the right of Red Savage and Jeremy Wilmer (52nd), and can keep up both physically and mentally with the game to the point of almost never being at a positional disadvantage. He seems like a very coachable player, and FC Hockey’s USHL scout Dylan Krill had nothing but great things to say about him in a recent discussion following the game: “I think Gilmartin has proved to me that he is a top 50 [NHL Draft] player. He is so reliable and plays his role perfectly. Playing a responsible defensive game, bringing physicality each shift and understanding where he needs to be and what to do very consistently.”
Expect Gilmartin to show up higher than expected along with the rest of this list, as Stan Bowman and the many important NHL Draft scouts present likely noticed what we both saw of him.
Honorable mentions: Dylan Duke (35th), Chaz Lucius (16th), Shai Buium (NR, 2021)
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