VANCOUVER, B.C. – The USHL had nine players selected in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, B.C., marking the highest number of picks in the first round since 2016 (10). This was the fifth-straight Draft in which the USHL had seven-or-more players selected in the first round.
The Draft began with USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) forward Jack Hughes being selected first overall by the New Jersey Devils. Hughes became just the third player taken first overall from the USHL (Auston Matthews – 2016 and Rick DiPietro – 2000). Both Matthews and DiPietro were selected as USHL alumni while Hughes is coming off a 48-point USHL season. The Orlando, Fla. native finished his NTDP career with 228 points (74-154-228), the most ever by an NTDP skater. His 154 assists is also first in NTDP history.
The next USHL skater to go was NTDP forward Alex Turcotte, who was taken by the Los Angeles Kings with the fifth overall pick. The University of Wisconsin commit finished his NTDP career with 125 points (45-80-125) in 95 career games, including 34 points (12-22-34) in 16 USHL contests this season. Trevor Zegras made it three selections in the first nine picks for the USHL when the Anaheim Ducks drafted the forward with the ninth-overall pick. The Boston University commit finished his NTDP career with the fourth-most assists (100) in program history, including 61 this season.
The USHL and NTDP later rattled off four-straight selections from 12th to 15th overall. With the 12th overall selection, the Minnesota Wild selected NTDP forward Matthew Boldy. The Boston College commit registered 43 points (17-26-43) in 28 USHL games this season and finished his NTDP career with 157 points (62-95-157) in 126 games. Boldy’s selection marked the first time in USHL history a player was selected 12th overall in the NHL Draft.
With the 13th overall selection, the Florida Panthers selected NTDP goaltender Spencer Knight. Knight is just the fourth USHL goaltender ever to be selected in the first round and second in the last three Drafts (2017 – Jake Ottinger). Knight was nearly perfect in the USHL this season, finishing with a 15-1-0-0 record on his way to a 59-10-0-1 record in 78 career NTDP games. The Boston College commit tied an NTDP record for most wins in a season with 32 this season while his 59 career wins is first in program history.
Hughes, Turcotte, Zegras, Boldy and Knight all represent the highest selection of a USHL player by the New Jersey Devils (1st), Los Angeles Kings (5th), Anaheim Ducks (9th), Minnesota Wild (12th) and Florida Panthers (13th) in NHL Draft history, respectively.
Cameron York was the first USHL defenseman to be selected in the 2019 NHL Draft as the Philadelphia Flyers took him with the 14th pick in the Draft. York becomes the third NTDP defenseman taken in the first round in the last two years after Quinn Hughes and K’Andre Miller were selected in 2018. The University of Michigan commit finished with 103 career NTDP points, which is second in program history among defensemen.
The run of four-straight selections ended with NTDP forward Cole Caufield, who was taken 15th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. Caufield is the most prolific goal scorer in NTDP history as he finished his NTDP career with 126 goals in 123 games. The University of Wisconsin commit registered three hat tricks in the USHL this season, including a six-goal game on March 15.
There was a gap in picks before the Boston Bruins selected NTDP forward John Beecher with the 30th selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. The University of Michigan commit recorded 84 points (32-52-84) in 123 career NTDP games.
The USHL closed out the first round as Sioux Falls Stampede defenseman Ryan Johnson was selected with the 31st and final pick of the first round. The University of Minnesota commit won the Clark Cup Championship with the Stampede this season and was named the USHL All-Rookie First Team after collecting 25 points (6-19-25) in 54 games. The Irvine, Calif. native then registered eight points (2-6-8) in 12 playoff games including a goal and an assist in the Championship-clinching game.
The remaining Draft-eligible USHL players will await their name being called in Rounds 2-7 of the 2019 NHL Draft on Saturday, June 22 beginning at 12 p.m. CT.