I was convinced the Edmonton Oilers and new general manager Ken Holland would harvest two or three USHL players at the 2019 draft. The US National Team played in the alley behind his house! He must have known these young players front to back and back to front again.
I wrote the following about Trevor Zegras, who was available when Edmonton stepped to the podium: “Undersized and highly skilled, elusive and aggressive with very good speed. I think he’s a Ken Holland type.” Holland kept his powder dry on the USHL kids until pick No. 100. Pretty good poker player, that Ken Holland.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, check it out here.
- New Lowetide: What are Evan Bouchard’s chances of making the Oilers in 2020-21?
- Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Who are the Oilers’ top 10 prospects and where do they project in the NHL?
- Jonathan Willis: How do Connor McDavid’s first five NHL seasons compare to the all-time greats?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2020 draft: Are fans ready for Oil Kings’ Jake Neighbours?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers need to keep feeding their currently rich pipeline of defensive prospects
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How a series of oddball jobs prepared Ken Holland for his front-office career
- Jonathan Willis: 2020 NHL offseason goalie market: Team needs, free agents and trade possibilities
- Lowetide: Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins far more than ‘also in photo’ contributor
- Jonathan Willis: Building the best all-time Oilers roster, with a twist
- Lowetide: What are Tyler Benson’s chances of making the Oilers in 2020-21?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘They were looking outside the box’: Oilers’ distinctive third jerseys still stand out
- Lowetide: If Oilers draft for skill, Seth Jarvis likely to be best available
- Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Should the Oilers pursue Taylor Hall this summer?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: The results are in: How you voted in our inaugural Oilers fan survey
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How the Oilers are preparing for an NHL draft in June
- Jonathan Willis: How Gaetan Haas, Joakim Nygard and Riley Sheahan draw calls that lead to goals
- James Mirtle: Ranking every NHL team’s salary cap situation, from best to worst
- Lowetide: Can the Oilers find Connor McDavid’s ideal winger this summer?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The two coaches who had the biggest influence on Dave Tippett
- Jonathan Willis: The 5 reasons why the Oilers re-signed Gaetan Haas
- Jonathan Willis: Can (and should) the Oilers trade Kris Russell?
- Jonathan Willis: How Edmonton could have left 2010 draft with both Taylor Hall and Ryan Johansen
- Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto’s NHL comparables offer Oilers fans hope for the future
- Lowetide: Top 20 prospect update: A lot of movement and some impressive graduations
USHL 2020 TOP PLAYERS
- LD Jake Sanderson. Smart player, incredible skater and has complete skill set.
- LC Ty Smilanic. Scouting report talks about plus skating and finding another gear.
- RW Sam Colangelo. Big power winger with skill, scored 28 goals in 44 games.
- LC Thomas Bordeleau. Owns a great shot and is highly skilled with the puck.
- LW Brendan Brisson. Undersized speedster has lots of talent, good skater.
- RW Daniil Gushchin. Small, speedy playmaking forward. Good numbers.
- LW Sean Farrell. A good skater with plus skills, he is posting strong numbers this season.
- LW Luke Tuch. Alex Tuch’s brother, plays a similar style. Numbers are good not great.
- LW Brett Berard. Small skill winger with good hands, he scored seven goals in 13 games.
- LD Tyler Kleven. A big shutdown defenseman (6.04, 201) with good speed.
- LC Cameron Berg. Good speed and skill, scored 18 goals in 30 games.
- RC Colby Ambrosio. Speedster, very skilled, I love his resume. Just 5.08, he’s a bullet.
- RD Eamon Powell. Impressive skater can move the puck effectively
- LD Dave Ma. Tremendous skater and very creative.
- LW Alex Laferriere. Great shot, good passer, creative player. Skating the concern.
- LD Mitch Miller. Fine skater, has two-way skills.
- LW Carson Bantle. Big winger, has skill, average skater, lots of primary points.
- LD Jacob Truscott. Offensive defenseman who has some edge to his game.
- RD Luke Reid. Good speed and can move the puck.
- G Drew Commesso. Good size, thrived wherever he played in 2019-20. Big step forward.
- RD Noah Ellis. Big blue impressed at Hlinka.
- LC Ryan Kirwan. Haven’t read about him, just know he can score goals.
- LD Christian Jiminez. Offensive defenseman.
Several quality talents here, I’m impressed by Colangelo, Brisson, Farrell and Powell. I don’t know why Holland avoided the USHL kids last season, so will be cautious in projecting draft picks from this league for Edmonton. Since 2000, Matt Greene, Jeff Petry and Caleb Jones have been procured from the USHL so it’s worth mining.
USHL IN 2019
- LC Jack Hughes. He’s a rocket who can make hockey plays at peak speed consistently.
- LC Alex Turcotte. A strong two-way reputation, he is skilled and an excellent skater.
- LC Trevor Zegras. Highly skilled, elusive and aggressive with very good speed.
- R Cole Caufield. He’s small, fast and a ridiculous scorer. Quick release, accurate.
- LD Cam York. Impact puck mover out of the USHL, great speed, passing and creativity.
- L Matthew Boldy. Bigger winger with skill, he’s strong on the puck and can score goals.
- R Bobby Brink. Small, fast and very skilled, he’s an intelligent player with great vision.
- L Egor Afanasyev. He’s a big forward with a powerful stride and an excellent shot.
- G Spencer Knight. A .929 save percentage and a mountain of positive scouting reports
- L Robert Mastrosimone. Skill winger.
- L Vladislav Firstov. Skill winger has a plus shot and delivered impressive results.
- RD Drew Helleson. Impressive puck moving defender.
- LD Henry Thrun. He’s a two-way defender who delivered sold offense (23 points in 28 games).
- RC Shane Pinto. Big RHC intriguing because of his size (6.02, 192) and scoring prowess.
- LC John Beecher. Center with good size and two-way ability.
- LD Alex Vlasic. Big defender who will make his living on the defensive side of the puck.
- R Judd Caulfield. He’s a power forward.
- L Marcus Kallionkieli. He scored 29 goals in 58 games, that’s excellent production.
- LC Matias Maccelli. Lots of skill, was dominant (62, 31-41-72) offensively.
- RD Ronnie Attard. He’s a 1999. Still, he’s a giant with a bomb for a shot and that has appeal.
- LD Ryan Johnson. Smart, mobile defender who hasn’t shown offensive ability.
I listed 21 a year ago and every damned one of them was chosen. The guy I had at No. 21 (Ryan Johnson) went No. 31 overall! What a year for the USHL. Jack Hughes played in the NHL, giving us our first pure shot at a direct NHLE for the league (it’s .17).
I liked Matej Blumel, but didn’t include him on the list, he would have been in the top 25. There were 44 USHL players chosen in the 2019 draft. My list goes 125 deep, suspect all 23 names above or close make my final list.
One of the issues in ranking these players comes in figuring out why some members of the U.S. National Development Team don’t play a lot in the USHL. I don’t have Landon Slaggert ranked but he scored pretty well at even strength with the US Team outside the USHL (exhibition games). I’m guessing that he is shy offensively and have decided to exclude him. However, that’s the same reason I excluded Caleb Jones in 2015.
There’s also the matter of feeder leagues. A player like David Ma from Shattuck is about where John Marino was on his draft day and has played in the USHL. I’ve listed him here but technically he belongs to the USHS list.
I think it’s probably very important to have contacts in that program, in order to find guys like Caleb Jones. Based on math, I think the best late bet from the USHL (Round 5 or later) is David Ma. I assume this means he goes No. 31 overall.
Bouchard’s offense in his AHL rookie campaign is exceptional when placed in context. He led the Condors in assists and was tied for second in overall scoring. He also improved defensively, as I noted in my article about him for The Athletic yesterday.
POSSIBLE 2020 TOP 100 TARGETS
No. 20 overall: Jan Mysak, Seth Jarvis, Mavrik Bourque, Noel Gunler, Rodion Amirov
No. 82 overall: Brandon Coe, Alex Cotton, Theo Rochette, Helge Grans, Luke Reid
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy show and some actual live sports to review! We get rolling at 10, TSN1260. Aaron Bronsteter, who is TSN’s UFC Reporter, will review a frantic weekend that was UFC 249. Does it prove live sports is back? What is the fallout, boy? We’ll find out. At 11 Jason Gregor will talk UFC, the NHL’s next step and MLB’s return. Curtis Lazar of the Buffalo Sabres will remember the Oil Kings 2014 WHL Championship and run to the Memorial Cup. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!