Monday, June 28, 2010

USHL Players Taken in the NHL Draft

I'm very sorry, but I've run out of time on the post-draft profiles and will not be able to finish them.  But without further ado, here is the players that were taken in the NHL Entry Draft which took place on Friday, June 25th and Saturday, June 26th.
Jaden Schwartz (Tri-City) was taken fourteenth overall by the St. Louis Blues who have a nice crop of young players including former USHL forwards David Backes and TJ Oshie. Schwartz is headed to Colorado College to follow his brother, and will presumably join the Blues right after he's done with the Tigers. For me at least, Schwartz being drafted this high is a bit of a surprise as I thought Derek Forbort would go first out of the USHL. Either way, Schwartz will be a great addition to the Blues. He is a playmaker type player who is always thinking pass first. Last season, Schwartz led the league in scoring with 83 points in 60 games, with 33 goals and 50 assists adding up to the 83 points. Overall, Schwartz is a great talent and should have a nice career in the NHL.

Connor Brickley (Des Moines) was drafted in the second round, fiftieth overall in the NHL Draft to the Florida Panthers. Brickley, in my opinion, and I'm not saying my opinion is what you should believe, is the best forward in the USHL, and has a good chance to lead the USHL in scoring this coming season, playing with TJ Tynan. Brickley is one of the hardest working players I've ever seen come through the USHL. I watched him and the Bucs play about ten times last year, and not once did I see Brickley give up on a play. He is always the first forward back in the defensive zone, and he really seems to enjoy the physical aspect of hockey, as he is always in on the scrums in front of the net and has the ability to make the big hit. The Panthers, a struggling franchise, got a steal in Brickley.

Jason Zucker (USNTDP) was the last forward drafted in the second round of the NHL Draft. Zucker was easily one of the best pure goal scorers that hit the ice last USHL season. Zucker scored quite a bit of goals this season and was one of the many bright spots for the USNTDP as they had a very successful year in not only the USHL, but also in international play, winning the IIHF World U18 Championship. While playing in the USHL last season, Zucker scored 11 goals and picked up 7 assists for a total of 17 points in 22 games. He was also a +6 on the season. Zucker was drafted by the Minnesota Wild who are looking for help offensively. Zucker is headed to Denver this fall and could go to the Wild at any point in the next few years. Photo from

Bryan Rust (USNTDP) is another USNTDP U18 team forward that can put the puck in the net, but can also pass the puck with deadly accuracy. His offensive skill is why the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Rust in the third round, eightieth overall. Rust always seemed to be on the ice when his team scored last season. Rust was a +15 for the U18 squad, netting 10 goals and picking up 13 assists for 23 points in 27 games played. The 5'10", 194 pound forward was drafted on pure potential, and he very well may reach that potential in the coming future. Rust will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall. The Penguins are currently looking for a young winger to go along and compliment their two superstars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and Rust could be that guy in the future. Photo from

Bill Arnold (USNTDP) was arguably the best power forward coming out of the USHL this year. Arnold isn't the tallest guy, standing at 6-foot, but he is bulky and can use his body well, making checks and pushing people around. Arnold was the only USHL forward taken in the fourth round, where he was taken 108th overall by the Calgary Flames, where he may fit in as a possible successor to power-forward Jarome Iginla, or just could be a bottom-six forward for the Flames. Arnold loves the physical game, as I witnessed during the U18 squad's 7-1 drubbing of the Lincoln Stars on Februray 27th, but also shows flashes of great offensive ability. During my single viewing of Arnold, he showed his ability to complete cross-ice passes and also showed a remarkable ability to saucer pass the puck over obstacles. Photo.

Michael Parks (Cedar Rapids) was taken by the Philidelphia Flyers in the fifth round, 149th overall. Parks is a bottom-six forward that focuses most of his energy on checking and he really wears down the opposing team's top-six forwards. Parks will be attending the University of North Dakota this coming fall and should advance his game quite a bit at the powerhouse school and the great coaching staff there. Parks could crack the Flyers roster at the end of his college hockey career, but I would guess based on his offensive numbers (11/11/21), that he will receive some seasoning in the AHL or ECHL. Overall, Parks is a good upside choice by the Flyers at the end of the fifth round to possibly add some physicality to their roster in the future at winger.

Yasin Cisse (Des Moines) in my opinion, was a lock for a second round selection before an ankle injury cut his season very short. Cisse was cut on the ankle by a Cedar Rapids players' skate which is certainly a painful way to end your season. Cisse has a lot of talent and size, but fell off most team's draft boards after the injury. This is why the Atlanta Thrashers got away with robbery in the draft, getting the 6'3", 218 pound power-forward with the 150th overall pick. Before his injury, Cisse showed that he has the offensive skills to compliment his size and love of the physical game. In the 18 games Cisse did appear in, he scored 13 goals and picked up 6 assists which just shows what he can do offensively. With that size, ability to forecheck, and offensive skill, Cisse is certainly an interesting prospect.

Luke Moffatt (USNTDP) will be headed to the University of Michigan this fall, where he will go to develop his skills more and the Avalanche, who drafted Moffatt with the 197th overall selection in the seventh round of the draft, are hoping that he can join the Avs' roster soon after his career with the Wolverines. Moffatt's game is based around checking, but he has shown glimpses of great offensive skill throughout his career. Just last season, Moffatt racked up 15 points in 28 games played, 5 of them goals and 10 assists. Moffatt could be a great fit on Colorado's roster, where he could compliment Matt Duchene or be the third piece to a great power forward line with up-and-comers Ryan Stoa and Chris Stewart. Moffatt's pro future depends on his performance at Michigan. Photo from

Chris Crane (Green Bay) was the last USHL forward drafted in the NHL Draft, and the San Jose Sharks got the physical winger with the 200th overall pick. Crane is one of those guys who will be able to find a way onto a NHL roster because of his fists. Crane dropped the gloves seven times last season, and eight times the season before. But even with his less than pretty style on the ice, Crane still manages to pick up the points offensively, although he was on the Clark Cup winning Green Bay Gamblers. This past season, Crane scored 15 goals and picked up 14 assists for 29 points in the 52 games he played in. He added those 29 points to the 107 penalty minutes he racked up this past season. Crane is headed to Ohio State this fall where he can improve more on his offensive skills. Photo from

Derek Forbort (USNTDP) was taken in the first round, fifteenth overall by the Los Angeles Kings who have one of the best young defensive corps in the NHL at the moment, led by Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty. Forbort was the most solid defenseman I saw last season, and he can really throw his body around and make some highlight reel worthy hits against the boards and he even made some big hits in open ice in my viewing of Forbort. You can attribute some of Jack Campbell's success to Forbort's remarkable ability to clear out the front of the net which made Campbell nearly impossible to screen. Even with Forbort's great defensive skill, he still likes to jump up and join the rush, which gained the 6'5", 195 pound defenseman 14 points in 26 games played. Photo from

Jarred Tinordi (USNTDP) was the tallest defenseman taken in the NHL Draft, standing at 6'6". Tinordi was probably the best defensive defenseman I saw last year. Where Forbort's skills were balanced between the offensive game and the defensive, Tinordi used that 6'6", 205 pound frame to really throw opposing forwards around. With his size, you would obviously expect Tinordi to throw some big checks, and he certainly does. But what really impressed me the most when I saw Tinordi play was his willingness to give up his body to block shots. When his team is short handed, Tinordi is always down on a knee, blocking shots and passing lanes, which made the U18 squad extremely hard to score on while on the powerplay. Tinordi could have a very bright future with the Canadiens. Photo from

Justin Faulk (USNTDP) was selected 37th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes, a franchise that's been struggling since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. Faulk is what I would consider an offensive defenseman and probably had the best shot of the U18 defensive corps. Faulk, as mentioned before, has a great shot from the point, and I know you hear a lot of scouts say that, but Faulk's shot is serious. When Faulk shoots, he can really pick his corners well, and his shot is just so powerful it explodes off of the goaltender's pads and his teammates can then shovel in the goal. Like I said, he can really pick his corners well and that resulted in 9 goals for him last season. In addition to those 9 goals, the 6'0", 196 pound defenseman picked up 3 assists for 12 points in 21 games played. Photo from

Jon Merrill (USNTDP) was taken right after his teammate Justin Faulk by the New Jersey Devils 38th overall. The Devils are one of the oldest teams in the NHL and have only one defenseman, Mark Fraser, who is under 25 years old. Merrill was one of the shut-down defensemen on the U18 squad. Merrill will play for the University of Michigan this coming fall, so he won't have to move too far. The coaching staff at Michigan does a great job of taking talented players and evolving that talent into NHL level skill. The 6'3", 205 pound defenseman put in some offensive points for the USNTDP. Merrill scored a goal and picked up 8 assists for a total of 9 points in 22 games played for Team USA's U18 squad last season. Merrill will be in the NHL someday. Photo from

Stephen Johns (USNTDP) was the last Team USA player taken in the NHL Draft, but was taken in the second round by the Chicago Blackhawks, 60th overall. Chicago is looking for some depth at defense, which is why they went after Johns, a 6'3", 220 pound tough defenseman out of Wampum, Pennsylvania. Johns only dropped the gloves once last season, but it's obvious when you watch him, he plays with a love of the physical game. Johns regularly dishes out huge hits and just like teammate Derek Forbort, clears out the front of the net very well. In my viewing of the USNTDP, Johns picked up an assist, but he could have had a lot more. Johns is very talented in the passing department, and he really showed his ability to start great rushes with his long ice passes. Photo from

Kevin Gravel (Sioux City) was the first non-USNTDP defenseman from the USHL that was drafted on Saturday. After the season when I posted my Top 10 skaters eligible for the NHL Draft, Gravel took the top spot for defenseman. There's a reason Gravel is high regarded throughout the scouting world. That reason is his defensive ability. Gravel averaged a point a game in high school, but he lost that offensive production in his "climbing the ranks" up to the USHL. Last season with the Musketeers, Gravel scored 3 goals and picked up 3 assists for 6 points in the 53 games he played for the Muskies last season. The lack of offensive production didn't scare the Los Angeles Kings away, who picked Gravel in the fifth round, 128th overall.

Kevin Lind (Tri-City) was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the sixth round of Saturday's draft with the 177th overall pick. Lind, for me at least, is one of the most fun defenseman to watch in the USHL. This summer, Lind was traded from Chicago to Tri-City, which should be a good fit for him as he can add some help to the Storms' powerplay as well as add some much needed defensive strength to the Storm. Lind is one of the hardest hitting defenseman in the USHL, but he also brings the offensive help to his new team. Just last season, Lind, a 6'3", 200 pound defenseman out of Homer Glen, Illinois, put up 16 points, 6 of them goals and 10 of them assists, in 55 games played. Lind has a good shot of being an NHL player someday in the near future.

Nick Mattson (Indiana) was taken by the Chicago Blackhawks with the last pick of the sixth round. He may be joining earlier Blackhawks' pick Stephen Johns in Chicago in the near future. Mattson, I would say is more offensively minded than defensive. If Mattson was a few inches taller, he would probably be a top-three round pick. But, standing at 6'1", 190 pounds, it's mostly his size that held him back in the draft. Last season, Mattson really showed off his ability to quarterback a powerplay and score from the point. Mattson can also make some great passes which allowed Mattson to pick up 14 assists in addition to his 5 goals in the 51 games he played for the Indiana Ice last season. After he's done with college, Mattson could be an NHL defenseman in the future. Photo from

Bryce Aneloski (Cedar Rapids) was picked by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round of the NHL Entry Draft, and was the last USHL defenseman taken on Saturday. Saying that Aneloski is more offensively minded than defensive like I usually say is the understatement of the year. Aneloski was the leading defenseman in scoring last season by 13 points, and he beat a lot of forwards in scoring as well. Aneloski scored 15 goals and gained a remarkable 39 assists for a total of 54 points in 60 games played for the RoughRiders. The Senators are in need of a young, offensive minded defenseman and Aneloski could be the guy to fill that void for Ottawa within the next five years. Aneloski is the kind of wait and see player that NHL teams risk a late round pick on.
Jack Campbell (USNTDP) was the only USHL goalie taken in the NHL Entry Draft, and he was also the highest player out of the USHL taken. Campbell was taken by the Dallas Stars 11th overall, and is expected to be the back-up netminder to Kari Lehtonen. Although Campbell is supposed to go and play in the OHL before playing in the NHL, it looks as if the Stars expect Campbell to come to Dallas immediately and probably get around 15-20 starts next NHL season. Campbell put up great numbers in the USHL last season, posting a 6-3-1 record in 11 appearances, along with a 2.21 GAA and .917 save percentage. We all remember his performance against Canada in the 2009 WJHC too. Campbell will be an NHL star someday. Photo from

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