Some of the elite American 2015 and 2016 NHL draft prospects just finished their season with the U.S. National U18 Team in the USNTDP (U.S. National Team Development Program) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here’s a look at what those top talents did this past season and what their outlook is for the immediate and distant future.
We wrote about Auston Matthews recently, specifically of the impact he will have on the state of the game of hockey in the Southern United States. The Scottsdale, Arizona native was the best player on the U.S. National U18 Team’s roster this past season, finishing with 94 points (44G, 50A). His stats set records for USDP single-season stats, putting him third in points, fifth in goals and tied for third in assists among all skaters in USDP history. So he was pretty good.
Looking ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft; American Auston Matthews headlines.Tkachuk, Puljujarvi, Chychrun in the mix. http://t.co/NEvdt33nOt
— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) March 29, 2015
Matthews has yet to decide where he will play next season, but if he goes the NCAA route, it is believed that he will pick one of Boston University, Boston College, North Dakota, Michigan, Denver or possibly even Wisconsin. And if he goes the Canadian junior league route, the Everett Silvertips in the WHL own his rights; however, he can demand a trade to a contender since he will likely only play one junior season before making the jump to the NHL at the start of the 2016-2017 season.
You can read more about Auston Matthews here.
The son of NHL great Keith Tkachuk, Matthew played minor hockey in his hometown St. Louis, Missouri. The left winger finished second on the team this season after he scored 34 goals and 47 assists for 81 points. With a point-per-game pace of 1.45, the winger caught the attention of scouts this season and solidifed himself as a top prospect for next year’s NHL Draft in Buffalo, NY.
Nothing against them. It’s a great school and I like a lot of things about them… I’ll look at schools over the summer after the season.
Tkachuk could opt to play in the OHL, as the London Knights own his rights. Since he originally committed to Notre Dame, teams were weary of using a pick on him at the 2013 OHL Priority Selection Draft, but the Knights selected him with their 64th overall pick in the fourth round. And should fellow uncommitted American 2016 NHL Draft prospect Max Jones – also drafted by London – choose to play for the Knights next season, the two can make for a formidable first line with center Cliff Pu in London after the departure of Max Domi, Christian Dvorak and likely Mitch Marner.
An under-sized right winger eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, Jeremy Bracco may be the most heavily-criticized forward in the draft class. Though he ranked third on the team with 75 points (26G, 49A) this past season, Bracco’s 5’9″ frame is what turns scouts off – and it’s the main reason he is ranked so low by NHL Central Scouting (#36 overall among North American skaters).
Boston College recruit to look for next year is Long Island's Jeremy Bracco. Broke Kane's assist record & Eichel's scoring record at NTDP
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) March 29, 2015
Having played in both his hometown of Freeport on Long Island, NY as well as in New Jersey for minor hockey, Bracco will head to Massachusetts to play for the Boston College Eagles this fall. And he’ll surely be a steal at the 2015 NHL Draft if he is drafted as low as he is ranked.
Another 2015 draft prospect, U.S. National U18 Team alternate captain Colin White is also committed to Boston College for next season. The two-way center had an up-and-down final USNTDP season, playing only 45 games after missing time due to illness (mono) and injury. Regardless, he managed to finish sixth on the team with 42 points (16G, 26A), scoring at almost a point-per-game pace.
I like to play big and strong in the defensive zone, so I feel that helps create more offense for my line. I believe it’s the right way to play. I’m a lot stronger in the defensive zone this year. It’s where I see the most improvement.
White is ranked 27th in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings list among North American skaters.
Though not one of the most notable players on the team this season, 2016 NHL Draft-eligible defenseman Chad Krys had an impressive start to his USNTDP career. He played the majority of the season with the U17 team, but scored 15 points (2G, 13A) in 14 games for the U18 team. Not a bad start, seeing as how it is a good possibility that Krys will not play for the Moncton Wildcats (who hold his QMJHL rights) and may instead opt for a full season with the U.S. National U18 Team.
— USHL (@USHL) March 23, 2015