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Draft prospect Keller leaning toward Boston U.

Forward also considering playing for Windsor in Ontario Hockey League

by Mike G. Morreale @MikeMorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Clayton Keller, No. 9 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, is leaning toward continuing his career at Boston University in 2016-17.

Keller, who had 37 goals and 107 points playing center for USA Hockey's Under-18 National Team Development Program this season, is also considering playing for Windsor in the Ontario Hockey League. Windsor selected the 5-foot-10, 168-pound forward in the second round (No. 40) of the 2014 OHL Draft.

"I think right now Boston University is my top choice because I think just coach [David] Quinn is a really special guy," Keller told NHL.com at the opening day of the 2016 NHL Draft Combine at First Niagara Center on Monday. "I'm really close with him and I think that's going to be the best fit for me."

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One reason Keller would consider playing in the OHL is the fact he grew up playing with Windsor center Logan Brown, No. 7 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. Keller said Brown's father, Jeff, who coaches Ottawa of the OHL, coached him and Brown in the early stages of their career. Keller and Brown are close friends.

"Logan is playing in Windsor, but you can have different paths and maybe someday we can still play in the NHL together; you never know," Keller said. "I guess there's always that chance I could go to Windsor, but I think it's slim. Not with so many great players playing and going to BU. That's going to be really special; it's hard to pass up.

"I want to get stronger in college and I guess [my decision] could change, but right now BU is my decision."

Keller said he spoke with Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, who the Sabres selected with the No. 2 pick of the 2015 draft after he won the Hobey Baker Award as a freshman at Boston University in 2014-15, and that discussion put him even more at ease with his decision to play at the school.

"[Eichel] came down to Ann Arbor [Mich.] when the Sabres were playing the Detroit Red Wings and he talked to us," Keller said. "I talked to him about BU, and he told me how much fun it was to play there and that I should go. He said Quinn is a great coach, and after hearing that, it made me a lot more comfortable, so I thanked him for that."

Keller set an NTDP record with 70 assists this season, passing the 64 Jeremy Bracco, chosen in the second round (No. 61) in the 2015 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, had in 2014-15.

Keller is the third player in the history of the NTDP to score 100 points in a season, joining Auston Matthews (117 in 2014-15) and Patrick Kane (102 in 2005-06).

Matthews, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters eligible for the 2016 draft, is the projected top pick in the 2016 draft. He will play for Team North America in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

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