Photo Credit: Dan Hickling / Hickling Images
MONTREAL, QC - The USHL had two players selected in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft, including USA Hockey National Team Development (NTDP) defenseman Jake Sanderson, who was selected fifth overall by the Ottawa Senators. Chicago Steel forward Brendan Brisson was selected 29th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Sanderson, the son of Geoff - a 1,104 game veteran of the NHL - was the both the first American-born player and first defenseman selected in the 2020 NHL Draft. During his time in the USHL, Jake registered 21 points (4-17-21) in 41 games over two seasons. This was the third-straight season a USHL player was selected in the first five spots and the 13th USHL player all time selected in the top-five. The University of North Dakota commit joins future Fighting Hawks teammate and USHL alumnus Shane Pinto (2019, Round 2, 32nd overall) in the Ottawa Senators prospect pool.
“I’ve watched every Draft that I can remember so to be here sitting in this position is pretty surreal,” said Sanderson. “[This Draft] is special in its own way. I was thrilled when my name was called by [Ottawa].”
Brisson, the 2019-20 USHL Rookie of the Year, registered 59 points (24-35-59) in 45 games with the Chicago Steel this season. The University of Michigan commit appeared in six games with the Green Bay Gamblers during the 2018-19 season and led the USHL rookies in points (59) and assists (35) while his 24 goals was just one shy of the rookie lead last season. Brisson is the third Steel player taken in the first round of the NHL Draft, joining Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas, 2011, 14th overall) and John Moore (Columbus, 2009, 21st overall).
“Playing for such a high-class organization, the Chicago Steel, last year was an excellent experience for me … we had the mentality of getting better every day no matter what the outcome was from the weekend,” said Brisson. “Playing in the USHL, which is a more defensive league than the CHL, really forced me to work on my two-way game. You’re playing against guys that want to shut you down all night. Looking back, it was the best path for my development.“
The USHL is poised to make a big splash in Rounds 2-7 of the 2020 NHL Draft beginning at 10:30 a.m. CT on Wednesday. The league has 80 players available who were named to NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings.
For more information on the USHL in the NHL Draft, visit the NHL Draft Hub on USHL.com.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the 2020-21 season will be the USHL's 19th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league. The USHL had 55 players selected at the 2019 NHL Draft and have 542 players eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft, including 84 on the NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings issued in April. More than 800 league alumni are currently on NCAA Division I rosters, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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