Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The second annual All American Prospects Game will take place on Thursday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 7pm eastern time. Forty of the top American-born prospects for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft will take part in the game. The 40 participants were split into two teams: Team Johnson (coached by Mark Johnson) and Team Mullen (coached by Joe Mullen).
Goalies: Mark Johnson receives the opportunity to put top 2014 goalie prospect Thatcher Demko between the pipes for his club. Demko was the starting goalie for the US National Development programs U18 team last, and will tend the nets for Boston College this year.
Current USNTDP goalie, Blake Weyrick will also backstop for Mark Johnson’s team during the game. Weyrick opened his season with a win last week, when Team USA beat Youngstown 9-3.
Defensemen: Out of the USHL, Sioux City Musketeer, Ryan Mantha and USNTDP blueliners Jack Glover and Louis Belpedio highlight Team Johnsons defense. Mantha and Glover provide size and two-way skill to the blueline, while Belpedio brings a physical edge and some puck-skill from the backend as well.
From the OHL, Niagara Ice Dogs defenseman Aaron Haydon will bring talents to Team Johnson. Also on Team Johnson are USNTDP defensemen Ryan Bliss and Nathan Billitier, who was recently added to the roster as an injury replacement teammate Jon Macleod.
Forwards: Johnson was provided with a lot of talent up front, as he has the opportunity to coach probably the two most talented USHL prospects in the draft. Forwards Nick Schmaltz (Green Bay Gamblers) and Sonny Milano (USNTDP) could be linemates during the game, and if that is the case…watch out! Both forwards are extremely skilled with the puck, and seem to play one step ahead of everyone else when the puck is on their sticks. Take your pick on who the third-man on that potential line will be, but if I were choosing, I’d go with the big power-forward from the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Shane Eiserman. Eiserman packages skill and size on the wing, and will provide another asset for Mark Johnson to utilize.
USNTDP forwards Dylan Larkin, Ryan Hitchcock, Alex Tuch, Jared Fiegl, and Nolan Stevens join Milano on the team. Also included on Johnson’s line-up are Portland Winterhawks’ forwards, Chase De Leo and Keegan Iverson, as well as Barrie Colt forward—and former USNTDP member—Kevin Labanc. Big-bodied forward, Michael Turner is the lone US High School prospect on the team, and he comes from Cushing Academy.
Goalies: Edward Minney from the USNTDP and Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic will backstop for Team Mullen. Minney won his first game of the season, 4-2 over Indiana. Nedeljkovic was the starting goalie for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August, and posted a 3.49 goals-against in four appearances.
Defensemen: Team Mullen will feature some solid defense prospects, including Dubuque blueliner Keegan Ford, USNTDP defenseman Ryan Collins, Indiana Ice defenseman Joshua Jacobs, and Waterloo Black Hawks blueliner Hunter Warner. Ford is a small but feisty defenseman with offensive skill. Collins is a big shutdown defenseman, who uses his size well to disrupt play. Jacobs offers skill at both ends of the ice, and plays a smart two-way game on defense, while Warner is a big, physical defenseman with some offense in his game.
Jack Dougherty (USNTDP), and talented Sarnia Sting defenseman Anthony DeAngelo are also on Joe Mullen’s roster.
Forwards: From the USHL, center Seamus Malone (Dubuque) and Shane Gersich (USNTDP), highlight Team Mullen’s offense. Malone is a talented forward with the puck, and also does a good job supporting on the backend and playing a two-way game. Gersich is off to a hot start this season with two goals and four points in two games. Tri-City storm winger, Austin Poganski was originally slated to play for Team Mullen, but due to an injury he will be replaced by USNTDP forward, Dylan Pavelek.
Also on offense from the USHL are Ryan Wagner, Anders Bjork and Joe Wegwerth; all representing the USNTDP. Wagner joined the roster to replace injured Plymouth (OHL) forward, Connor Chatham. But Mullen still received his fair share of CHL stars on offense, being granted power-forwards Ryan MacInnis (Kitchener) and Blake Clarke (North Bay).
US High School prospects on Team Mullen include Tyler Sheehy (Burnsville) and Summer Beantown Classic standout, Ryan Donato (Dexter). And finally, from the BCHL’s Penticton Vees comes forward Jack Ramsey.
Team Johnson has a pretty clear edge in goal and on offense for the game. Both teams have pretty solid defensive corps, with a combination of size and offensive skill from the backend.
In the end, I think it is Team Johnson that will come out on top, with the game MVP going to one of Schmaltz, Milano or Glover.
Tags: Seamus Malone | Joshua Jacobs | Keegan Ford | Shane Eiserman | Nick Schmaltz | Sonny Milano | Ryan Mantha | Thatcher Demko | Blake Clarke | 2014 nhl draft prospects | 2014 nhl draft | Shane Gersich |
|1. C Sam Reinhart||Kootenay Ice|
|2. D Aaron Ekblad||Barrie Colts|
|3. C Michael Dal Colle||Oshawa Generals|
|4. C Leon Draisaitl||Prince Albert Raiders|
|5. C William Nylander||Rogle|
|6. LW Nick Ritchie||Peterborough Petes|
|7. D Haydn Fleury||Red Deer Rebels|
|8. D Roland McKeown||Kingston Frontenacs|
|9. LW Sam Bennett||Kingston Frontenacs|
|10. C Jared McCann||Soo Greyhounds|