Wondering if Casey Mittelstadt is top-pick-worthy? If Eeli Tolvanen should go before the mid-teens instead of slipping further in mock drafts? What about the futures of Shane Bowers, Grant Mismash, and Josh Norris? Then you might like a look at the recent USHL Draft and speculate who might elevate to the level of this year’s aforementioned top graduates.
For new USHL followers, their draft involves two phases. While Phase One “futures” picks (with 2001 birthdays) don’t often contribute in their first USHL year, top selection Grant Silianoff a Notre Dame commit, Shattuk St. Mary’s High School sophomore, and top scorer on their U16 club with 35 goals and 73 points in 55 games may gain a key role at left wing with his new team, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders before long.
Solid on offense and defense the 5-10, 153-pound Silianoff has great vision and a fearless, energetic game. A prolific goal scorer in high school as well as his early Squirt and Pee Wee league days in Edina, Minnesota, he also profiles as a skilled playmaker who can dish smart, opportunistic helpers in spades. As a bantam leaguer in 2015-16 he registered 62 goals and 61 assists in 61 games.
The Phase Two Draft involves prospects not on any team’s protected list and provides far greater numbers of immediate USHL players. Phase Two picks are frequently tier-two juniors moving up from the North American Hockey League. Notable NAHL grads include USHL Forward of the Year and league scoring champ Zach Solow (18 goals and 69 points for Dubuque) and USHL Player of the Year and top goalie Matiss Kivlenieks (36-7-4-2, 1.85 GAA, .932 SV% for Sioux City).
Phase Two first selection and Notre Dame commit Graham Slaggert (son of Notre Dame associate coach Andy Slaggert) recently helped the U.S. National Under-18 Team grab the gold at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 men’s World Championship, with his driven and versatile team plays. He does all the little things right, posesses tremendous speed and is highly skilled on the penalty kill and at blocking shots as well as battling for the puck in tight zones.
Scouts see him as a potential mid-round NHL pick in time. He’s kept good hockey company, earning his reputation with Brady Tkachuk, Scott Reedy, Mismash, Norris, and diminutive cult figure Sean Dhooghe (5-3, 138 pounds) in the US National Team Development Program.
Speaking of Dhooghe, those of you who saw Clayton Keller make his NHL debut this year whose appearance (not his superior game) could be mistaken for that of a 10th grade hall monitor, should know the Chicago-area sparkplug who invokes the names of Theo Fleury and Cam Atkinson. He’s also eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the way.
Dhooghe’s three-goal, six-assist performance with the gold-medal winning USA U18 squad in April brought greater attention to the University of Wisconsin commit and his unique game.
Here’s an impressive shorthanded goal highlighting his quick skating and reaction time, complimented by a deft pass from Michigan State commit Tommy Miller out of the zone.
Here are a few more Dhooghe goals. This one at 1:01 with tip-in after a Brady Tkachuk shot featuring a nice feed from Josh Norris…
…and at the 1:39 mark with a Slaggart assist.
…here’s a slightly dated, but relevant analysis of Dhooghe’s skating stride and technique.
Obviously size is a concern to some, but I really hope someone gives this guy a shot in the pros.
Back to the draft, other USHL selections that stand out include the second overall Phase Two pick by Chicago, center Johnathan (aka Jack) Dugan. A tall (6-2, 185-pound) and skilled two-way player with great poise and timing, he displays a wicked wrist shot and ability to find opportunities to cut through defenses when they don’t seem to exist. Finishing up his high school year at Northwood Prep in Lake Placid, Dugan skates for former Rochester American AHL Head Coach Chadd Cassidy. A Providence College commit.
The third selection of the Phase Two draft, and son of long-time New Jersey Devil and current AHL Cleveland Monster Head Coach John Madden, Tyler Madden is a creative, elusive, and quick forward that defenses often have no answer for. With great puck awareness, the Northeastern commit is a dangerous playmaker whose hockey IQ helps create high-chance opportunities near the net. On the small side, he’s grown a few inches recently, but stands at a rail-thin 5-10, 146-pounds and will want to add bulk as he continues to develop.
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