The past couple of years have been the high-water mark for American hockey. Two US-born players have been first overall picks in the past three years, with a record number of Americans being selected. So how does the country stack up in one of the best draft classes ever?
Jeremy Morin, LW
USNTDP U17 (NAHL)
Height/Weight: 5'11, 175 lbs, 26 PIM
2007-08 Statline: 30 GP, 17-17-34
Summary: Two-way forwards rarely pop up on the top of scoring lists, but not Jeremy Morin. When most 15 year-olds would be playing Midget, the diligent but deadly wingewas the leading scorer in a Junior A league. After scoring 54 points in 45 games and being named ROTY in the Eastern Junior Hockey League for the 2006-07 season, Morin headed to the NTDP- where he was the only player to hit the PPG mark. Despite being of only average height and weight, a laser-accurate snapshot from below the dots and a love to play in high-traffic areas remind one of long-time NHL star Mark Recchi.
Future: Initially interested in going the college route- both his brother and cousin were NCAAers- rumored grade issues mean Morin is likely to jump to the OHL for 2008-09. Such a move couldn't be better for his draft stock. The Kitchener Rangers own his rights, and despite the loss of 124-point scorer JustinAzevedo , the team boasts one of the best offenses in the league. A 50-goal rookie season would lock up a top-eight spot at the draft table.
Zach Budish, C
Edina High School (USHS)
Height/Weight: 6'4, 225 lbs
2007-08 Statline: 27 GP, 26-37-63,
Summary: It's a conflict that's confounded some of the best professional athletes in North America: what sport do I play? Gone are the days of Lionel Conacher's three-sport domination; the demands placed upon athletes at the highest level make it impossible for today's stars to play more than one. In the summer draft preview, we told you about Edina High School star Anders Lee, who needed to make the choice between D1 football or D1 hockey. Still undecided, it's looking as though Lee may choose football. But given the chance, any D1 program would rather have teammate Zach Budish. A standout linebacker for his school's football squad, the 6'4 specimen has likely played his last year of elite football. Team USA's lone threat during the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the summer, Budish's heart is firmly entrenched in hockey. Not the greatest skater due to his size and mass, Budish is nevertheless a threat down low due to his immovable frame.
Future: Comparison-wise, Budish plays the game like a grittier, more driven Blake Wheeler. Like Wheeler, Budish will suit for the Gophers for his college career. However, unlike the former fifth overall pick, it's difficult to imagine Budish being taken before the tenth selection. A team will nevertheless get a feared and skilled power winger with the ability to change the face of their attack.
Jordan Schroeder, RW
Height/Weight: 5'8, 171 lbs
2007-08 Statline: 55 GP, 22-31-53, 16 PIM
What We Said Then: "A deft playmaker with elusive skating and hands, there are a great deal of parallels between the '90 born forward and another American offensive dynamo- Patrick Kane. A