The Journey: What We Learned – USHL

Brayden Olafson

2019-04-06


Last week I kicked off a new sub-series within The Journey where I plan on reviewing how some of the NHL’s most reliable leagues for sourcing prospects are doing this year. After getting the ball rolling overseas with the Swedish Hockey League, we’re jumping back to North America to cover the USHL.

Because of the nature of the USHL, drafted prospects often don’t last long in the league. Players who choose the USHL often have their eyes on a college degree. Since the NCAA does not consider it a professional league, players retain their scholarship eligibility. Once players are drafted from the USHL at 17 or 18-years-old, they’ve often already committed to playing their freshman season at a NCAA university. For that reason, our list of drafted players currently playing in the USHL is small enough to count on two hands and a foot. In some of those cases, even, they’re players who’ve returned from the NCAA after an unsuccessful bid at the collegiate level.

Before I get any further, I want to give a shout-out to the DobberProspects writer who is covering the USHL on a regular basis – @ChrisWasselDFS. Follow Chris on Twitter for regular USHL updates and notifications for his quality monthly piece.

The 2018 NHL Entry Draft marked a major milestone for the USHL, and its status as one of the top leagues to produce NHL-calibre talent. A total of 57 players with current or previous ties to the USHL were drafted last summer, making it the most prominent development league to feature alumni in the draft, and a personal best for the USHL itself. While 12 of the 57 players had moved on to other leagues prior to the draft, the league certainly left its mark.

An important note to make is that the USHL considers the US National Development Program to be an official team in their league. For those who aren’t fully aware, the Program is split into two teams: a U17 and a U18 team, both of which compete in a full USHL schedule. Players from the U17 squad are not draft eligible; however, players from the U18 squad tend to dominate the percentage of drafted “USHLers”. In @HockeyRobinson’s most recent edition of the 2019 Entry Draft rankings he credits a total of 20 players with USHL ties to his top-100 list, of those 20, 13 are players from the U18 roster.

Some of the most notable names to graduate from the USHL in recent history include