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All-American Game showcases top young U.S. talent

Potential first-round pick Sanderson among 43 players eligible for 2020 NHL Draft

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Jake Sanderson, a projected first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, will head a talented group of United States-born players participating in the 2020 USA Hockey BioSteel All-American Game at USA Hockey Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN).

The eighth annual game, which includes 43 players eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft in Montreal on June 26-27, will feature a new format where 23 players from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team will play against 20 top-ranked U.S.-born players from the United States Hockey League.

All players were selected by USA Hockey in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting.

Sanderson (6-foot-1, 186 pounds), a 17-year-old defenseman who plays for the NTDP Under-18 team, is No. 11 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters eligible for the draft. The son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson is committed to the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.

"I'm looking forward to this game; it's going to be a USHL all-star team playing against the NTDP, so the intensity is going to be real," NTDP U-18 coach Seth Appert said. "They're going to want to beat us. Our guys have pride and want to win. It'll be two elite teams playing a real game against each other.

"It'll be a great evaluation for the hundreds of scouts who come."

Sanderson, who has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists), 51 shots on goal and a plus-9 rating in 33 games this season, is one of three players from the NTDP projected as a first-round pick by NHL Central Scouting.

"You could easily argue that he's the best defender in the world at this birth year (2002)," Appert said of Sanderson. "He's a savage defender. He eats people up defensively, and his skating ability and his want to defend is really high."

Center Ty Smilanic (6-1, 177; No. 18), questionable to play because of an upper-body injury, has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 21 games and is committed to Quinnipiac University. Center Thomas Bordeleau (5-9, 179; No. 26) ranks second on the NTDP with 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 33 games. He's committed to the University of Michigan.

Center Dylan Peterson (6-4, 192; No. 34), one of six NTDP players projected to be chosen in the second round, has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists). Left wing Luke Tuch (6-1, 203, No. 35) has 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) and left wing Brett Berard (5-8, 152, No. 36) leads the NTDP with 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists).

Defensemen Brock Faber (5-11, 193; No. 40), Tyler Kleven (6-4, 200; No. 44) and Eamon Powell (5-11, 165; No. 49) round out the list of NTDP skaters projected as second-round picks.

There are five USHL players in the game projected as first- or second-round picks, according to NHL Central Scouting.

Chicago center Brendan Brisson (5-11, 177; No. 31), the highest-ranked USHL player on the roster, has 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) and 10 power-play goals. Waterloo right wing Ryder Rolston (6-1, 175; No. 70) is the son of Brian Rolston, who played 1,256 NHL games with five teams and won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995. The younger Rolston has 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) and five power-play goals.

NTDP goalie Drew Commesso (6-1, 180), No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American goalies, is the highest-ranked player at his position in the game. The native of Norwell, Massachusetts, who's committed to Boston University, is 10-5-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average, three shutouts and .919 save percentage in 19 games.

"Commesso has excellent instincts, is quick and athletic," said Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting. "He reads and reacts well, is strong in tight situations and offers a quick glove hand. He's got huge upside and is an excellent goalie prospect."

The NTDP also has two players eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft on the roster, forwards Matthew Beniers and Hunter Strand.

A total of 188 players who have played in the All-American Prospects Game have been selected in the NHL Draft, including 44 taken in the first round. The 2020 game will include players representing 13 states.

Mike Knuble, who scored at least 20 goals eight times in 16 NHL seasons and is an assistant with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, will be the honorary coach for the NTDP. Joining Knuble will be Appert and assistants Brett Darnell, Nick Fohr and Mike Leone.

Scott Gomez, who won the Stanley Cup three times during a 16-season NHL career, will be the honorary coach for the USHL. Joining him on the bench will be two USHL coaches, Scott Owens of Sioux Falls and Mike Hamilton of Muskegon.


USHL ROSTER (Team Scott Gomez)

GOALIES: Aidan McCarthy, Dubuque; Logan Stein, Waterloo

DEFENSEMEN: Noah Ellis, Des Moines; Alex Gagne, Cedar Rapids; Hank Kempf, Muskegon; *Ben Meehan, Cedar Rapids; Mitchell Miller, Tri-City; Luke Reid, Chicago, Mason Lohrei, Green Bay

FORWARDS: Carson Bantle, Madison; Ryan Beck, Dubuque; Brendan Brisson, Chicago; Nick Capone, Tri-City; Sam Colangelo, Chicago; Sean Farrell, Chicago; Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, Chicago; Alexandros Gaffney, Muskegon; *Patrick Guzzo, Waterloo; Trevor Kuntar, Youngstown; Alex Laferriere, Des Moines; Ryder Rolston, Waterloo; Wyatt Schingoethe, Waterloo


NTDP ROSTER (Team Mike Knuble)

GOALIES: Drew Commesso, Noah Grannan

DEFENSEMEN: Brock Faber, Owen Gallatin, Connor Kelley, Tyler Kleven, Daniel Laatsch, *Eamon Powell, Jake Sanderson, Jacob Truscott

FORWARDS: Brett Berard, Matthew Beniers (2021 draft eligible), Thomas Bordeleau, Daniyal Dzhaniyev, Zakary Karpa, Tanner Latsch, Hunter McKown, Dylan Peterson, Landon Slaggert, Ty Smilanic, Hunter Strand (2021 draft eligible), Luke Tuch, Chase Yoder

* Invited but unable to play due to injury



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