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2018 NHL Draft Class Aims to Add to U.S. History

By, 06/21/18, 2:30PM MDT


115 players with U.S. ties fill NHL CSS Rankings; Draft begins tomorrow (June 22) at 7:30 p.m. ET

Beginning tomorrow night, the next wave of future U.S. NHL Stars will hear their names called when the 2018 NHL Draft gets underway at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The first round will take place at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, while rounds two through seven will be held on Saturday (June 23) beginning at 11 a.m. ET on NHL Network.

Players born between January 1, 1998 and September 15, 2000, are eligible for selection. Entering the 2018 NHL Draft, a total of 115 players with ties or eligibility to various hockey leagues across the United States appeared on the NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking (found here) of the top players eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft. The 115 players represent those born in the United States as well as those associated with four U.S. hockey leagues, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (107 players), United States Hockey League (76 players), United States Hockey Schools (16 players) and North American Hockey League (12 players).

Since 1963, a total 2,326 U.S. players have been selected in the NHL Draft. To date, seven U.S. players have been taken first overall in an NHL Draft, with the most recent being Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.), who was taken first overall at the 2016 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Six of the last 10 and 20 of the last 25 NHL Drafts have seen at least one U.S. player selected in the Top 10 of an NHL Draft. Additionally, three of the last five NHL Drafts have seen multiple U.S. players taken in the Top 10.

To learn more about the draft-eligible U.S. players, as well as notable U.S. history associated with the NHL Draft, scroll below. 

U.S. Ties To 2018 NHL Draft Prospects

Eleven players with U.S. ties were given a first-round prospect grade, including 2nd-ranked Brady Tkachuk (NCAA, USHL, AAPG), 6th-ranked Quinn Hughes (NCAA, USHL, AAPG), 7th-ranked Oliver Wahlstrom (NCAA^, USHL, AAPG), 12th-ranked Joel Farabee (NCAA^, USHL, AAPG), 17th-ranked Bode Wilde (NCAA^, USHL, AAPG), 18th-ranked Sampo Ranta (NCAA^, USHL), 21st-ranked Mattias Samuelsson (NCAA^, USHL, AAPG), 23rd-ranked K’Andre Miller (NCAA^, USHL, AAPG), 24th-ranked Blake McLaughlin (NCAA^, USHL, AAPG), 26th-ranked Blade Jenkins (USHL) and 27th-ranked Jack Drury (NCAA^, USHL).

Of the 31 North American goaltenders ranked, 15 have U.S. ties, including two of the top five. Matthew Thiessen (NCAA^) and Keegan Karki (USHL) sit fourth and fifth, respectively.
^indicates commitment

The 2018 NHL Draft expects to be the 19th straight year in which a player will be drafted in the first round after skating at least one full season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. Additionally,  

The last eight NHL Drafts have seen at least 10 players with ties to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program drafted and with 23 NHL CSS-ranked players having skated at least one full season for the program, that trend expects to continue. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, USA Hockey’s NTDP competes in the United States Hockey League as well as against international and NCAA Division I and Division III level competition.

Of the 42 players who skated in the 2017 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, N.Y., 36 received final NHL CSS rankings, including the top-ranked American player and MVP of the 2017 game, Brady Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.).

The All-American Prospects Game, a USA Hockey event centered on showcasing the top 40 American players eligible for that year’s NHL Draft, continues to showcase NHL’s future U.S. stars. To date, 127 players who skated in an All-American Prospects Game have gone on to hear their names called in the NHL Draft, including 63% whose names were called in the first three rounds. Notable AAPG alumni include Shane Gersich (2013 AAPG), a 2018 Stanley Cup Champion, three U.S. Olympians in Ryan Donato (2013 AAPG), Jordan Greenway (2014 AAPG) and Troy Terry (2014 AAPG) and six players who have skated in an NHL All-Star Game, including Jack Eichel (2014 AAPG), Noah Hanifin (2014 AAPG), Seth Jones (2012 AAPG), Dylan Larkin (2013 AAPG), Zach Werenski (2014 AAPG) and Brock Boeser (2014 AAPG), who was named MVP of the 2018 NHL All-Star Game. 

The 2018 All-American Prospects Game will take place in Saint Paul, Minn., on Wednesday, Sept. 18. Tickets for the event go on sale tomorrow at noon CT.

Nineteen players on the NHL CSS Rankings have skated for the United States in an International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. Of the 19 players, four have helped the U.S. to multiple medals in IIHF play, including Joel Farabee, Quinn Hughes, Brady Tkachuk and Oliver Wahlstrom. Hughes leads all skaters with three IIHF appearances, including the 2017 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship (gold), 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship (bronze) and 2018 IIHF Men’s World Championship (bronze). He is the first U.S. player to skate in an IIHF Men’s World Championship in his draft year since Auston Matthews did so in 2016. 

U.S. Draft Timeline

June 5, 1968: Curt Bennett and Herb Boxer become the first American players ever selected at the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal. Bennett is selected 16th overall by the St. Louis Blues, while Boxer is taken 17th overall by the Detroit Red Wings.

June 8, 1983: Brian Lawton, a center from Mt. St. Charles High School (R.I.), becomes the first American picked No. 1 overall when the Minnesota North Stars chose him at the Montreal Forum. Pat Lafontaine (New York Islanders) and Tom Barrasso (Buffalo Sabres) are selected third and fifth overall, marking the only time three of the first five picks are American players.

June 13, 1987: The first NHL Draft held in the United States takes place at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. A record 38 percent  97 out of the 252 players drafted in 1987  are American.

June 24, 2000: Rick DiPietro becomes the first USA Hockey National Team Development Program player to be selected No. 1 overall when the New York Islanders pick him in Calgary. He is also the highest-drafted goalie in the history of the modern draft and the first American goalie ever drafted with the top pick.

July 30, 2005: A then-record tying eight U.S. born players are selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa. Among them, a record four are chosen among the top 10 picks.

June 26, 2010: A record 11 Americans are selected in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, while a record-tying 21 Americans are selected in the first two rounds, tying the two-round high water mark set in 2007. 

June 26, 2015: All seven U.S.-born players selected in the first round on Friday night (June 26) were current or future college hockey players, marking the most NCAA first-round picks since 2010 (7). Additionally, a record 37 players who skated in the United States Hockey League in 2014-15 were chosen. 

June 24, 2016: A record 12 Americans were selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, including Auston Matthews, who became the seventh American all-time selected with the top pick overall. Matthews, who went to the Toronto Maple Leafs, played at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, a member of the United States Hockey League.

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