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Philadelphia to host All-American Prospects Game

Showcase for top U.S.-born players eligible for 2017 NHL Draft

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The road to the 2017 NHL Draft will start in Philadelphia.

USA Hockey announced Tuesday the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center will host the 2017 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 22.

The event will bring 40 of the top U.S.-born prospects for the 2017 draft together for a game that will have scouts from all 30 NHL teams watching closely.

"It's a real thrill to be here in Philadelphia and guests of the Flyers," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "To showcase about 40 of our best American players in this environment is extremely exciting for us. To do it in Philadelphia, one of the heart-and-soul areas of grassroots hockey and USA Hockey, is vital for us as well."

Flyers president Paul Holmgren said hosting the AAPG should help raise interest in hockey in the region. In the past few years, Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau and Tampa Bay Lightning top prospect Anthony DeAngelo have gone through area youth programs. Now Holmgren is hoping the top players for the 2017 draft will further influence the future.  

"We have good hockey around this area," he said. "To be able to have this game in our area where kids from all over the Delaware Valley can come watch is pretty cool. I know if I was a young player, I'd have this circled on my calendar."

Video: Flyers coach Hakstol on the USA Top Prospects game

The 2017 edition will be the fifth AAPG, and Johannson said it has grown each year. That has come in part to the players who have graduated from the game to the NHL, among them Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin, Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin.

"Now getting five years into it, I can tell you from a player's side of it, they all know what it is and they're all aspiring to get into the game," Johannson said.

Larkin played in the 2014 game at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. He said he used that event as a springboard to a season that ended with him being selected by the Red Wings with the 15th pick of the 2014 draft. This season, he's in the top four among NHL rookies with 20 goals and 40 points in 67 games.

"You get pretty fired up for that game," Larkin said. "I remember knowing there were tons of scouts, and playing as hard as I could for them."

Video: Holmgren talks USA Hockey Top Prospects game

The game is a boon for scouts, who get to watch 40 of the best players in one place and can measure them against some of the top competition in their draft class.

"I know our scouts have really enjoyed the first four," Holmgren said. "You get a chance to get everybody on the ice at one time. I think it's a good event, it's a good game. It's very exciting for the young players that are involved.

"It's a little bit different than going to, say, Peterborough against Saginaw in the Ontario Hockey League. When you got to that game there might be five or six so-called prospects you're looking at. When you come to a game like this, you got 40 guys you're watching, 40 guys that are probably going to be potential draft picks."

Rosters will be announced at a later date and will be formed in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting. Coaches also will be named in the future, but expect there to be a tie-in to Philadelphia hockey history.

"Not going to get into who's coaching here, but there's certainly some great Americans who have been part of the Flyers organization," Johannson said. "It's another connectivity to this area and specifically the Flyers that we'll have some great people involved to coach these young players and showcase them for that game."

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