The hockey competition all around the continent is heating up even though the drastically long and cold winter continues to drag on. The NCAA ranks are already in post-season fashion while the CHL and USHL junior ranks among other are days from embarking on their playoffs too. It is a great time of year for the hockey world and USA Hockey just announced their invite list for 52 top players born in 1998 for the National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp (NTDP). The class is considered to be quite strong in talent as many will be drafted into the OHL or QMJHL in the coming months, not to mention several players already committed to college programs.
The best 16-year old American-born players will converge on the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, MI from March 21-25th for an opportunity to earn a roster spot on the US National Under 17-Team for the 2014-15 season.
The 52 players include 19 defensemen, 27 forwards and six goaltenders, will be divided into three teams - Red, White and Blue. The squads will participate in on-ice practices and off-ice training as well as four 30-minute practice sessions and two full games.S
everal of players partook in USA Hockey's Select 15 Player Development Camp last summer in Amherst, NY. In fact 38 of the 52 players were in attendance at the Northtown Center last July. This opportunity gives the staff of the NTDP program along with NCAA, CHL, and USHL scouts to get live viewings of USA's elite fifteen year olds in one centralized location.
These players have been evaluated throughout the season and some of leading candidates in my mind to make the squad at the forward position would be: Clayton Keller (Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep), Max Jones (Honeybaked U18), Logan Brown (Indian Ice U16), Patrick Khodorenko (Honeybaked U16), Nick Pastujov (Honeybaked U16), Joey Anderson (Hill-Murray HS, MN), and Kieffer Bellows (Edina HS, MN). At the blue line the leading talent would be: Chad Krys (NJ Rockets U19), Cam Dineen (NJ Rockets U19), James Greenway (Shattuck St. Mary’s U16), Ryan Lindgren (Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep), and Adam Fox (LI Gulls). While between the pipes the primary names to watch: Michael Latorella (Honeybaked U16), Ryan Edquist (Shattuck St. Mary’s U16), and Joseph Woll (St. Louis Jr. Blues U16).
Below is the full list of all camp invitees including scouting notes from my viewings or discussion with other scouts and NCAA D1 coaches from this past season and last summer’s Select 15s Camp or 2013 USA Hockey Tier 1 U14 Nationals. The 1998-American class of hockey players is strong no doubt, so that makes for limited invites. Some notable omissions in my mind include Liam Murphy (Avon Old Farms – UConn commit), Dante Palecco (LI Gulls U16 – Yale commit), Sam Sternschein (LI Gulls – Cornell commit), Mitchell Lewandowski (Honeybaked U16 – Michigan St. committ), AJ Drobot (NJ Rockets U19 – Maine commit), Ben Gleason (Honeybaked U18), Simon Butala (LI Gulls U16 – Maine commit), and David Melaragni (Team Comcast U16 – Northeastern commit). In all honesty, the best ’98 did not get an invite because he is OHL-bound as projected to be the #1 overall pick for its priority draft next month. As mentioned, the American 1998-born group is compelling in talent, yet Jakob Chychrun was head and shoulders above the talent at Select 15s Camp and has kept up his superior play this season with the Toronto Jr. Canadians Midget Minor team of the GTHL (Greater Toronto Hockey League).
For all the 52 player write-ups please click the link here!
You can follow Russ Bitely for more hockey news, comments, & articles on Twitter: @russbites