Entering the home stretch of the 60-game USHL regular season which culminates April 8, and gearing up for the Clark Cup Playoffs, the league’s top prospects have been largely impressive and continue to draw great interest from NHL scouts. Last year 45 USHL players and alumni were drafted by NHL teams and quite a few will be selected in the 2017 draft as well. Let’s take a look at some of the USHL’s most promising, including a few blue chip prospects projected to go early in the 2018 draft’s first round.
Casey Mittelstadt C/LW (Green Bay) #5 NA central scouting midterm rankings
The highly-heralded Mittelstadt is still pursuing his goal of the Minnesota State Championship with Eden Prairie High, who just took the Section 2AA title earn a trip to the state finals. The 18 year-old elite prospect with a great combination of size, speed, toughness, and smarts should be back with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers by the end of March, following a ridiculously productive scoring campaign with his high school squad (thus far 21 G and 43 A in 25 games for 2.56 PPG). He tallied eight goals and 13 assists in just 16 games with the Gamblers this year, prior to his mid-November return to Eden Prairie. Still leads the USHL in points-per-game average this season at 1.31. Rated an ‘A’ prospect by NHL Central Scouting and is widely expected to be drafted in the top ten, if not top five, picks this June. A University of Minnesota commit.
Video: Casey Mittelstadt two-goal Night 10/6/16:
Eeli Tolvanen – RW (Sioux City) #7 NA central scouting midterm rankings
Projected as high as a top-five pick in June’s NHL Draft, Tolvanen’s goal scoring has reached another level since mid-February. With seven goals and one assist in the last six Musketeer contests, including a February 18 hat trick against Green Bay, NHL scouts are looking to the Finnish forward as a potentially potent, NHL-ready wing. Tolvanen deservedly earned USHL forward of the week honors for the third time this season on February 27, and maintains a point-per-game pace with 24 goals and 17 assists in 41 games. Currently he leads the league with 203 shots, 40 more than his nearest competitor Fargo’s Hank Crone.
Video: Eeli Tolvanen 2015-16 Highlights Sioux City Musketeers and Team Finland
Andrei Svechnikov – RW (Muskegon) – 2018 NHL Draft eligible
Could very well be next summer’s top NHL draft pick. While 2018 projections are in lesser supply than those for 2017, the younger brother of 2015 Red Wing first-round pick Yevgeni Svechnikov is considered at least a top-three selection next June. Despite missing ten Lumberjack contests this season Andrei, a 6-2, 185-pound, 16 year-old native of Barnaul, Russia is tied for fourth in the league in scoring (47 points), tied for fifth with Tolvanen in goals with 24, and is third in points-per-game average with 1.21 behind Mittelstadt (1.31) and Dubuque Fighting Saint center Zack Solow (1.22). A world-class skater and puck handler with a large frame, especially considering his age, he has racked up 58 PIM this campaign.
Andrei Svechnikov 2G vs Canada Black | Nov 4 2016 | WHC U17
Brady Tkachuk – C (Team USA) – 2018 NHL Draft eligible
Yes, it’s another Tkachuk. The younger brother of Calgary Flames’ rookie sensation Matthew and son of NHL legend Keith, Brady is one more family power forward star in the making. A Boston University commit, he’s viewed as a sure top-ten, possible top-five pick in 2018. Tallied eight goals and nine assists in 18 USHL games, and 18 goals with 21 assists in 46 games of U.S. National U18 Team play so far in 2016-17. Has totaled an astounding 160 penalty minutes this campaign in 64 games between both. His 6-2, 194-pound frame is extremely difficult to slow down when storming toward the net, which he does well and frequently. Has a great work ethic, strong degree of intensity, highly competitive nature, leadership skills, and an impressive set of on-ice qualities similar to those we have come to expect from his father and older brother.
Brady Tkachuk 2G 1A vs Lumberjacks | Nov 23 2016
Shane Bowers – C (Waterloo) #13 NA central scouting midterm rankings
Bowers has been on fire since late January with 16 points (7 G, 9 A) in his last 14 games as Waterloo fights for the top Western Conference spot with a 31-14-2-2 record. The 17 year-old Halifax native has 18 goals and 23 assists in 49 Black Hawk games, far outpacing his 56-game USHL totals (15 G, 18 A) of last season. His shots-per-game average has also risen dramatically to 2.76 from last year’s 1.96. Committed to Boston University, the 6-1 170-pound center should be a mid-to-late first round NHL draft pick this June.
Video: Shane Bowers one goal, one assist vs Phantoms, Nov 4 2016
Keith Petruzzelli – G (Muskegon) #1 NA goalie central scouting midterm rankings
Petruzzelli finished February by winning four of his last five contests and began March with a 6-1 victory against 28-16-4-1 Youngstown, which trails Muskegon for third place in the Eastern Conference by a single point. The 6-5 180-pound Quinnipiac commit saved 29 of 30 Phantom shots. After a somewhat lackluster first two-thirds of the season, Petruzzelli has rebounded to earn a 17-9-0-0 record with a 2.55 GAA and .910 SV%. Named MVP for Team East of the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game stopping all 21 shots he faced. Commonly forecasted to be the first goalie off the board in the 2017 NHL draft, likely being selected in the early second round.
Video: Keith Petruzzelli Saves 11/3/16
Grant Mismash – LW (Team USA) #30 NA central scouting midterm rankings
After a month-long break from the USHL to engage in primarily international play, Team USA is back and Mismash is on a scoring binge with one goal and four assists in their first two returning games. Considered a late first to early second round NHL draft pick this June, the University of North Dakota commit is a fast-skating, physical playmaker and defender with excellent stick-handling ability and a wicked shot. Has seven goals and 11 assists in 20 USHL games, and 22 goals with 22 assists in 50 contests with the US Under-18 squad, totaling 102 penalty minutes between both.
Video: Grant Mismash Breakaway Goal 9/16/16
Jake Wise – C/W (Team USA) – 2018 NHL Draft eligible
Having just turned 17, Wise still has ample time to develop but has been compared with Jack Eichel and profiles as a top-ten 2018 NHL draft pick. The 5-10, 185-pound Massachusetts native is coming along a bit slower than his teammate Tkachuk of the same age with one goal and six assists in 24 games during his first season of USHL play, and eight goals with 16 assists in 44 games for the USNTDP U17 squad. Also a Boston University commit, he’s a highly skilled, fast skater and mobile with the puck, but could better utilize teammates and his quick reflexes to create scoring chances. If he can develop further in this area the sky’s the limit for Wise.
Jake Wise 1G vs Storm | Jan 28 2017
Scott Reedy – C (Team USA) #48 NA central scouting midterm rankings
Another Team USA member spending February away from the USHL, the 6-1 190 pound power center Reedy, in his first game back, picked up a third period game misconduct in their 4-3 victory over Waterloo. Considered a likely mid-second round pick in this summer’s NHL draft, he plays a physical game in addition to being a skilled scorer. Over the 2016-17 campaign Reedy has totaled 24 goals, 22 assists, and 80 PIM in 64 games between Team USA’s USHL play and the U.S. National U18 Team. A Minnesota native, Reedy has committed to the Golden Gophers.
Video: Scott Reedy – 2015-16 Highlights – USNTDP U-17
Cayden Primeau – G (Lincoln) #4 NA goalie central scouting midterm rankings
Tending goal for the Lincoln Stars who are holding on to fifth place in the Western Conference, Primeau is righting the ship after a rough start, going 4-2-0-0 in February and the first weekend of March. In this span, the son of 15-year NHL vet Keith Primeau has lowered his goals against average from 3.29 to 2.99 and raised his save percentage from .890 to .900. Scouts love his upside, as he profiles as a future NHL starter that needs some experience and polish. Projected as a late second round 2017 NHL draft pick.
Video: Cayden Primeau stops Danny DiGrande on a shorthanded breakaway 10/15/16.
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