Bob Fallen, the newly appointed president and commissioner of the United States Hockey League, knows the importance of having players in the crosshairs of scouts and general managers at the NHL draft.
He has every intention of keeping it that way too, Fallen said Monday during a conference call to introduce him to national media.
"Those of us who watch a lot of hockey need to look no further than what we saw [in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final] when people like [Los Angeles Kings defenseman] Alec Martinez and [Chicago Blackhawks left wing] Patrick Sharp were battling for the right to play in the Stanley Cup [Final]," Fallen said. "Both played in the USHL; Alec at Cedar Rapids and Patrick at Thunder Bay.
"It's all about the American developmental model, and we consider the USHL to be an absolute lynchpin step in that path for developing players."
The 2013 NHL Draft marked the ninth straight year at least one player from the USHL was among the top 30 picks. In total a record 32 players competing in the league in 2012-13 were selected last June.
"I cannot in any way, shape or form disparage any other alternatives for developing hockey players; if people have another path to follow to the NHL, more power to them," Fallen said. "We just consider the USHL a really excellent opportunity for people and players developing not only for the NHL but college hockey before they reach the NHL."