The 2019 NHL Draft begins tonight here at Rogers Arena in Vancouver at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The 57th NHL Draft will see players born between January 1, 1999 and September 15, 2001, eligible for selection.
Among those Americans hoping to hear their names called are players whose development roots trace back to USA Hockey National Championships, USA Hockey Player Development Camps, USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and USA Hockey-sanctioned junior hockey leagues. In addition, several players have already represented the United States on national and select teams in international competition.
This past season, many of the Americans eligible for this year’s Draft spent time the United States Hockey League and the North American Hockey League, as well as in the collegiate ranks. Of those who skated in the USHL are multiple players from the U.S. National Under-18 Team of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, which competes in the USHL as well as against collegiate and international opponents.
Of the Americans who have skated internationally for the United States, 22 were part of the bronze medal-winning U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team. Among those 22 players are Jack Hughes (Orlando, Fla.), the top-ranked North American prospect, and Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.), the top-ranked North American goaltender, who also skated on the U.S. National Junior Team that earned a silver medal at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship last January here in Vancouver.
Additionally, 14 skaters that represented Team USA at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alberta, appeared on the NHL's CSS Rankings at one point this season. Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.), Shane Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y.) and Ryan Johnson (Irvine, Calif.) helped lead Team USA to a first-place finish at the event and finished the season ranked 19th, 28th and 33rd, respectively, on the final NHL CSS Rankings.
In total, 11 American players enter tonight's Draft with first-round grades on the final NHL CSS Rankings, including Hughes, Alex Turcotte (Island Lake, Ill.), Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.), Arthur Kaliyev (Delray Beach, Fla.), Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.), Matthew Boldy (Millis, Mass.), Thomas Harley (Syracuse, N.Y.), Cam York (Anaheim Hills, Calif.), Brink and Pinto.