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Cole Eiserman of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team is an elite shooter.

But the forward, who is No. 12 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, has been making a concerted effort to improve his defensive game prior to the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, according to Pat Cullen of Central Scouting.

"Cole is a shooter and a scorer and he's always kind of been termed a shooter and a scorer, but we know in the NHL you can't be just a one-trick pony, you have to be as well-rounded a player as possible," Cullen said on the latest edition of the "NHL Draft Class" podcast. "I think Cole got the message that he needed to develop more parts to his game.

"From the blue line, he's arguably one of the most dangerous and best prospects there is in this draft. But I noticed in the second half that he was working harder on the backcheck, was working harder in his defensive zone.

"It was really good to see that he was taking it to heart and trying to make that part of his game all the time and not just when people were telling him he needed to do it."

Eiserman led the NTDP with 58 goals and 25 power-play goals, and was second with 89 points, in 57 games this season. He is the program's all-time leader with 127 goals in two seasons; Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield is second with 126 goals (2017-19).

Cullen also provided his thoughts on Boston University center Macklin Celebrini, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft and the youngest player in NCAA Division I men's hockey to win the Hobey Baker Award, presented annually to recognize the top NCAA men's hockey player.

"I was lucky enough to get to watch Macklin for two years at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Minnesota as a 14-year-old and you could tell at a young age that he was just an exceptional prospect," Cullen said. "The way he controlled the game at such a young age and the way he was a just a 200-foot player. He'd do all the work in the defensive zone, make great exit passes, and then join the rush and provide offense.

"He's got that 'it' factor that anybody involved in sports always seems to talk about and he certainly is a guy that just checks off all the boxes because he's just such a valuable player. It's hard to find a lot of faults in his game."

Cullen also shared his opinion on several standouts from the United States Hockey League projected to be chosen in the first round, among them forwards Trevor Connelly of Tri-City, Michael Hage of Chicago, and Sacha Boisvert and Matvei Gridin of Muskegon.

"NHL Draft Class" co-hosts Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale also talked about several of the top players from the NTDP, a few other standouts from the USHL, and discussed the NHL Scouting Combine, set for June 2-8.

The podcast is free, and listeners can subscribe on all podcast platforms, including iTunes and Spotify. It also is available on NHL.com/multimedia/podcasts and the NHL app.

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