Buffalo's First Niagara Center to host 42 2016 NHL Draft-eligible players
USA Hockey announced today the 42 players who will compete in the fourth annual CCM/USAHockey All-American Prospects Game set for Sept. 24 at First Niagara Center, home to the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.
"This game provides the best U.S. players eligible for next year's NHL draft the opportunity to showcase their skills on a national stage," said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations. "We're excited to return to Buffalo and with input from NHL Central Scouting. We're certain fans in the region will enjoy the chance to see future stars of the NHL, some who are very likely to one day wear the Sabres jersey."
Each year, the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game assembles the top U.S. players who are eligible for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. Following last year's game, 26 players who participated in the contest went on to be chosen in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, including seven first-round selections.
Among the 24 forwards named are Clayton Keller (Swansea, Illinois), Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Missouri), Tage Thompson (Oyster Bay) and Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis), who helped the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team capture the gold medal at the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship. In August, Tim Gettinger (North Olmsted, Ohio), William Knierim (Skokie, Illinois), Drake Rymsha (Huntington Woods, Michigan), Riley Tufte (Ham Lake, Minnesota) and Garrett Wait (Edina, Minnesota) skated for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that competed in the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
The defense corps boastsChad Krys (Ridgefield, Connecticut) and Charles McAvoy(Long Beach, New York), who joined Keller, Kunin, Thompson and Tkachuk on the gold medal-winning U.S. squad at the 2015 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship. Ben Gleason (Ortonville, Michigan), Andrew Peeke (Parkland, Florida), and Sam Rossini (Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota) contributed to the U.S. Under-18 Select Team at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
Among the four goaltenders are Evan Sarthou (Black Diamond, Washington), who backstopped the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team to a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship, and Stephen Dhillon (Buffalo), who skated for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
Thirty-three players have ties to the United States Hockey League, the top junior league in the U.S., including 21 players associated with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan. Last season, Kieffer Bellows(Edina, Minnesota), was named the 2015 USHL Rookie of the Year and received USHL All-Rookie First Team honors while Krys was a USHL All-Rookie Second Team selection.
NOTES: Collectively, 12 states are represented on the roster, including Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington. Michigan leads all states with 11 players while Minnesota is second with eight. ... Players selected to compete in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game were chosen by USA Hockey in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting. ... Twenty-two players appeared on the 2015-16 NHL Central Scouting Futures List, which highlights players who have potential to be selected in the first three rounds of the draft. ... Forward Matthew Tkachuk; defensemen Chad Krys and Charles McAvoy and goaltender Evan Sarthou attended USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid in early August. ... Head coaches for the game will be announced in early September. ... CCM-designed uniforms will be unveiled in mid-September. ... The Buffalo Sabres and First Niagara Center are hosting the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game for the second consecutive year and third time overall. Last year, Team Grier defeated Team Olczyk, 6-3. On Sept. 29, 2012, Team McClanahan beat Team Housley, 5-2, in the inaugural event.