NHL Draft-eligible players from USHL to be featured in January showcase
The United States Hockey League announced today that the Omaha Lancers will host the 2016 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Tuesday, January 12th at Ralston Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.
The two-day event will begin on Monday, January 11th with a luncheon featuring a keynote speaker followed by meet and greet opportunities later that evening. Tuesday will feature both on-ice and off-ice testing leading up to the main event that evening.
“We are excited to offer fans, players and NHL talent evaluators a top-notch showcase event that not only helps solidify our league’s position in the developmental landscape, but offers NHL caliber talent in a high-quality venue for everyone to enjoy,” said Bob Fallen, USHL President and Commissioner. “We invite fans from across the region to join us in Omaha to see future NHL and NCAA elite talent all under one roof.”
The 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Dubuque, Iowa saw a near-sellout crowd for the pre-game skills competition and game, and was featured in a 30-minute special on NHL Network. NHL Central Scouting A-rated skaters in the event included Youngstown Phantoms forward and 2015 USHL Player of the Year Kyle Connor, as well as Brock Boeser and Tom Novak of the Waterloo Black Hawks.
A total of 12 players invited to the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game saw an improvement in their NHL Central Scouting Ranking from the Midterm Rank to the Final Rank: Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser, Thomas Novak, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Erik Foley (did not play due to injury), Cooper Marody, Dennis Gilbert, Chris Wilkie, Matthew Freytag, Adam Gaudette, Ryan Larkin and Chase Pearson.
Prior to this year’s contest, a total of 30 players that have been selected to compete in the previous two USHL/NHL Top Prospects Games have gone on to be chosen in the NHL Draft, including first round selections Mike Matheson (Florida Panthers), Jordan Schmaltz (St. Louis Blues) and Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres).
Other notable players to compete in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game included Omaha Lancers forward and 2015 Team West MVP Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson who is draft-eligible at the 2015 NHL Draft; Waterloo Black Hawks forward Taylor Cammarata, who later became the 2012-13 USHL Player of the Year and was chosen by the New York Islanders (76th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft; Kevin Roy of the Lincoln Stars participated in the 2012 contest and was later named 2011-12 USHL Player of the Year and picked by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round (97th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft; and Robbie Baillargeon, MVP of the 2012 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game after scoring two goals, and was selected by the Ottawa Senates in the 2012 NHL Draft following his season with the Indiana Ice.
“The Lancers organization is thrilled to host the 2016 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. We feel Omaha and Ralston Arena is the perfect place to celebrate and showcase the top NHL prospects the USHL has to offer,” said Bryan Marshall, Vice President of the Omaha Lancers. “We are looking forward to providing a terrific experience for everyone involved.”
The two-day event will be a part of the Omaha Lancer’s 30th year celebration. During the 2014-15 season, Omaha enjoyed a 94% attendance rate including 14 sellouts. Over the past three decades the Lancers have won seven Clark Cup Championships, the most of any team in the USHL, and have become a staple in the Omaha community with 29 years of community service including Leap-for-a-Cure Foundation, Susan G. Komen, TeamMates Mentoring Program and Special Olympics.
It marks the second consecutive year that the USHL has scheduled the event, which was first played in 2012 and 2013 in Muskegon, Michigan. Scouts from every NHL club have attended the event in prior years as it has become a valuable tool to further evaluate USHL talent at the midpoint of the regular season in preparation for the annual NHL Draft.
Also announced today was the 2016 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game logo designed by Mitchell Johnson of Red Eye Graphic Design in conjunction with the Omaha Lancers. The logo includes the Omaha skyline with the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium Desert Dome.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrated its 13th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2014-15. A record 35 players were chosen in the 2014 NHL Draft and more than 350 players on team rosters this season are committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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