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McDavid, Ekblad proving quite exceptional in OHL

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 9:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

In addition to charting the progress of this year's top draft-eligible players throughout the season, NHL Central Scouting always is busy projecting those young players on the horizon for future drafts.

Such is the case with 2014 NHL Draft-eligible defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts and 2015 draft-eligible forward Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters.

They're the only players besides New York Islanders center John Tavares to be awarded exceptional player status over the last decade, meaning they were deemed eligible for the Ontario Hockey League draft as 15-year-olds -- a year younger than the standard of age 16.

McDavid leads all OHL rookies this season with 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists) in 54 games for Erie. NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, who specializes in Ontario-based prospects, has liked what he's seen in the 5-foot-11, 175-pound center.

Tavares knows what is awaiting Connor McDavid

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 9:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The fact Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid already is under the microscope as a 16-year-old is pretty impressive when you consider he's still more than two years away from hearing his name called as the potential top pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

New York Islanders center John Tavares knows the feeling.

Like Tavares in 2005, McDavid was granted exceptional-player status by Hockey Canada last year, making him eligible for the 2012 Ontario Hockey League draft as a 15-year-old. He was taken by the Erie Otters with the No. 1 pick.

McDavid counting on good times with Erie Otters

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 9:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Connor McDavid leads OHL rookies this season with 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists). (Photo: Mark Bell/Erie Otters)

Connor McDavid had no idea what to expect as a 15-year-old rookie with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League this season.

So the 5-foot-11, 175-pound center just set out to do what he does best: frustrate opposing defenders with a dazzling display of puck skills and shiftiness.

He's doing just that, even though he turned 16 in January and is the youngest player on the Erie roster. McDavid leads OHL rookies this season with 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists). His minus-17 rating is deceiving, particularly because Erie has struggled with 17 wins in 59 games.

"Personally, I think it's been a pretty good year, but team-wise, it's been a little frustrating," McDavid told "We're a young team still developing, so hopefully next year will be the year."

Finland beats USA at Five Nations Tourney

Wednesday, 02.06.2013 / 2:03 PM / Prospects

Aleksi Ainali and Janne Puhakka connected for goals in the third period to give Finland a 4-2 victory against the United States in the 2013 Five Nations Tournament on Wednesday at Kinnarps Arena in Jonkoping, Sweden.

Ainali, rated No. 68 on NHL Central Scouting's list of 2013 draft-eligible European skaters, converted a feed from Puhakka 2:50 into the third to snap a 2-2 tie. Puhakka, No. 84 on the European list, then scored off a pass from Ainali 11:18 into the frame to close out the scoring for the Finns, who received a stellar 36-save performance from Central Scouting's top-ranked European goalie, Juuse Saros.

Tyler Kelleher, who was named Team USA's player of the game, scored both goals for the Americans. Hunter Miska, No. 38 on Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American goaltenders, made 18 saves for the United States, which will next play the Czech Republic on Friday.

"We had a number of chances but just couldn't convert," U.S. coach Don Granato said. "We'll take [Thursday] to regroup and focus our efforts on facing the Czech Republic."

U.S., Canada in same group for 2014 WJC

Monday, 02.04.2013 / 3:10 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation host committee announced Monday the preliminary-round schedule for the 2014 World Junior Championship, slated for Malmo, Sweden.

The United States, which won gold at the 2013 WJC in Russia, will be in Group A, along with Canada, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany, and play its preliminary-round games at Isstadion Arena. Host Sweden, which won the silver medal after a 3-1 loss to the United States in the 2013 WJC title game, will play in Group B, along with Finland, Russia, Switzerland and Norway. Their preliminary-round games will be played at Malmo Arena

The highlight games of the preliminary round will be New Year's Eve, when the United States plays Canada and Sweden battles Russia.

All-American Prospects Game coming to Pittsburgh

Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 1:50 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Pittsburgh Penguins president David Morehouse admitted it was another great day for hockey Tuesday after the announcement that the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game would be coming to Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Sept. 26.

"We're fortunate Pittsburgh has become one of the great hockey cities in America," Morehouse told reporters at a press conference announcing the second annual event.

"Those in Pittsburgh may remember the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic," he said. "I used to go to a lot of them growing up … it allowed us to see the greatest basketball players in the country before they became NBA players. This game is very similar in that fans will get an opportunity to see the best hockey players in America before they get drafted."

Goalie McAdam stars in Top Prospects Game

Wednesday, 01.23.2013 / 11:02 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Goalie Eamon McAdam of the Waterloo Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League stole the show Wednesday with 11 saves in 30-plus minutes of work to earn Most Valuable Player honors and help Team West to a 2-1 victory over Team East in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich.

The West received a first-period goal from Conor McGlynn of the Sioux City Musketeers and a second-period tally by Jason Cotton of the Tri-City Storm to open a two-goal cushion. McAdam was replaced with 9:20 remaining in the second by Waterloo teammate Cal Petersen, who yielded one goal on 21 shots.

McAdam, ranked No. 7 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm release of the top North American draft-eligible goalies, was asked after the game if there was a little more on the line for both goalies on such a grand stage.

McCoshen among top stars at USHL prospects game

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 2:28 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Defenseman Ian McCoshen of the Waterloo Black Hawks heads an impressive list of United States Hockey League prospects eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft set to take the ice Wednesday at 7:15 ET in the second annual USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM, at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich.

All 16 teams will have at least one player participating in the event, topped by the Black Hawks with five -- McCoshen, forwards Justin Kloos and Taylor Cammarata, and goalies Eamon McAdam and Calvin Petersen.

"I think it's fair to say [the USHL] is getting stronger each draft year," USHL president and commissioner Skip Prince said. "We're continuing to suggest that the USHL is not only a direct delivery vehicle to the NCAA, but that the USHL and NCAA are direct delivery vehicles to the NHL."

Scouts will have the opportunity to see 27 players in their first year of NHL draft eligibility.

American WJC gold started with U-17 squad

Friday, 01.18.2013 / 12:44 PM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

"I think we're the best team," United States defenseman Seth Jones told TSN entering the IIHF 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. "I think we have all the pieces to win the gold medal."

Two weeks later, Jones had a gold medal draped around his neck, closing a remarkable amateur career with wins at world under-17, under-18, and under-20 tournaments. And he won those last two world titles with a group of familiar teammates that had been working together for much of the past three years. For that group of American prospects, their three-year odyssey yielded incredible results.

Roughly half the players who won gold in Ufa also played on the U.S. team that won the 2011 World Under-18 Championship in Germany. From that group, seven players -- including John Gibson, Jake McCabe, Rocco Grimaldi and J.T. Miller -- were members of the 2010 U-17 championship team. It's a winning core that first came together as 16-year-olds at the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Team Orr blanks Team Cherry in 3-0 win

Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 11:58 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Despite being the last replacement player added to the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, Laurent Dauphin of the Chicoutimi Sangueneens was determined to prove he belonged among the elite draft-eligible standouts.

The 6-foot, 166-pound left wing of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League did just that on Wednesday when he struck for a goal and an assist to earn player of the game for Team Orr in a 3-0 victory against Team Cherry at the Metro Centre in the 18th annual event.

"The first 10 minutes, we were overwhelmed, but we fought back and I must say in my 14 years coaching in the game, that first period was the best period I've ever been involved with," Team Cherry coach Don Cherry said. "I thought it was a heck of a hockey game. It had fights, hits and goals. You can't ask for more than that."

Orr goaltenders Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) and Philippe Desrosiers of the Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) combined for 20 saves to notch the first shutout at the Top Prospects Game. The Orr defense, led by Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) and Nikita Zadorov of the London Knights (OHL), played a spirited game while frustrating those Halifax fans in attendance hoping to see their hometown heroes earn the spotlight.

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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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