The 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round will be June 28 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 are June 29 (11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+, NHLN, SN, SN1). is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, an inside look at Muskegon of the United States Hockey League.'s full draft coverage can be found here.

The Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League might be a household name by the conclusion of the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft.

For starters, never has a player been chosen in the first round after playing for Muskegon in the same season. That's expected to change June 28 at Sphere in Las Vegas when the team could have as many as two players selected.

Additionally, the highest number of draft picks for Muskegon in a single year is seven, which occurred in 2022 (George Fegaras, No. 83, Dallas Stars; Matthew Morden, No. 131, Arizona Coyotes; Michael Callow, No. 154, Anaheim Ducks; Jake Richard, No. 170, Buffalo Sabres; Jack Sparkes, No. 180, Los Angeles Kings; Owen Mehlenbacher, No. 201, Detroit Red Wings; Ben Strinden, No. 210, Nashville Predators). Richard, Mehlenbacher and Strinden were the only skaters playing for Muskegon at the time they were drafted; the others were incoming players.

Muskegon (38-22-2), which lost to Fargo in four games in the best-of-5 Clark Cup Final, could have as many as five players taken this year: forwards Sacha Boisvert, Matvei Gridin and Joe Connor, and defensemen Xavier Veilleux and Bauer Berry.

"It's obviously rewarding for the players, the coaches and the organization," Muskegon coach Parker Burgess said. "Our president (Steve Lowe), general manager (Jim McGroarty) and assistant GM (Tom Walsh) and all our scouts have done a terrific job finding these players, drafting and recruiting them to come to Muskegon. Obviously, guys like Boisvert and Veilleux (each from Quebec) and Gridin (Russia) have major-junior options or professional options over in Europe, so for them to choose Muskegon in the USHL speaks a lot about where the league is and where our organization is getting to."

Parker Burgess

Said Boisvert: "I thought this was a great path for my development. There aren't many times a player can develop, so the USHL and college route will give me that opportunity; it's always been my dream to play college hockey."

David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting has seen the impact of import players on the USHL in recent years.

"I think the USHL obviously has expanded since I've been doing this," Gregory said. "But at the same time it's getting a better reputation as a league where a player can develop, and it's good hockey. A lot of players who have come from this league go to college and play professionally; it's a good path."

It's interesting to note the top four regular-season scorers in the USHL this season each is eligible for the 2024 draft: Gridin (83 points; 38 goals, 45 assists) and forwards Trevor Connelly of Tri-City (78 points; 31 goals, 47 assists), Mac Swanson of Fargo (77 points; 26 goals, 51 assists) and Michael Hage of Chicago (75 points; 33 goals, 42 assists).

Burgess, promoted from associate coach in December 2022, said a change in culture has helped many of his young players.

"I think we were in a very transitional phase as an organization; Pete Herms bought the team and we had a coaching change and a lot was going on ... we ended up trading three or four of our core players," Burgess said. "I think we just needed a different way of doing things. In junior hockey, the way you coach or the way you're able to coach must align with the organizational values. We were aligned in creating an environment that was competitive and intense, but also warm and caring, to allow our players to feel safe, and we really committed to the development.

"As much as you want to win in junior hockey and are trying to fill rinks, it's a developmental stage for these players' careers and we wanted to make sure that we were leading the way by instilling a positive foundation."

Boisvert is projected as a first-round pick, and Gridin in either the first or second round. Veilleux, Connor and Berry might be chosen anywhere between the third and seventh rounds.

Here's a closer look at each of the five Muskegon players who could be selected in the 2024 draft:

Sasha Boisvert closeup

Sacha Boisvert, C: The native of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, will continue his development at the University of North Dakota next season and possibly become the first player from his province to join the program. The 18-year-old (6-foot-2, 183 pounds) finished fifth in the USHL with 36 goals, third with 14 power-play goals, and tied for 11th with 68 points in 61 regular-season games, and is No. 16 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters. He interviewed with 29 teams at the NHL Scouting Combine.

"He has a fiery personality and I think you see it come out in his game because he's not afraid to be physical," Burgess said. "He's dropped the mitts a few times, standing up for teammates or just setting the tone physically. He has a heavy, quick, accurate shot, whether it's off the rush or on the power play, and he's always a threat to score from any area in the offensive zone. He cares about winning and takes a lot of pride in face-offs and his 200-foot game."

Matvei Gridin, RW: The 18-year-old played for St. Petersburg and Omsk in Russia's development leagues before being chosen by Muskegon in the 15th round (No. 223) of the 2022 USHL entry draft. The left-handed shot (6-1, 189) led the USHL scoring, was tied for third with seven game-winning goals and tied for ninth with 10 power-play goals in 60 regular-season games. He's No. 21 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.

"I don't know if there's a kid in the league who has the same combination of skill, size (6-1, 189), strength, shot and speed," Burgess said. "He makes plays that, as coaches, we'd like to take some credit for, but it's his ability to create. I think he looks at himself as more of a pass-first guy, but he's scored a lot of goals in a lot of different ways. His release is so quick, he can pick corners. For Matvei, it's consistency and continuing to make sure his work ethic and his body language is where it needs to be. When he does those things, he can be an F-1 (first player) on the forecheck. He gets under sticks and creates a lot of turnovers because he has such a good stick."

Xavier Veilleux, D: Committed to Harvard in 2024-25, Veilleux (6-0, 189) was Muskegon's leading scorer among defensemen with 32 points (three goals, 29 assists) and led all USHL rookies with a plus-21 rating in 62 regular-season games. The 18-year-old and his defense partner, Ryan Koering (plus-31), earned the most minutes of any defense pair on the team. Veilleux is No. 74 in Central Scouting's final rankings.

"He played AAA midget in Canada last year and won a national championship as captain of that team in Quebec, so we knew we were getting a leader," Burgess said. "He's extremely intelligent on the ice and very invested in his career and his development. He shows up, does his work, wants to be coached very hard. He's kind of a throwback in that when we feel he's not playing to the level or expectations we think he can or he believes he can, you can be hard on him. He averaged 20-23 minutes a game, played our second power-play unit and was one of our top defensemen on the penalty kill."

Joe Connor, LW: The left-handed shot (5-10, 173) was tied for fourth on Muskegon with 60 points (31 goals, 29 assists) and led the team with eight game-winning goals and four short-handed points (one goal, three assists) in 50 regular-season games. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, the 19-year-old will attend Northeastern in 2024-25. He is No. 118 in Central Scouting's final ranking.

"Joe Connor kind of drove our forward group despite flying under the radar a bit," Burgess said. "He's ultra-competitive on both sides of the puck, driven to win, and cares so much. He lays it out on the line every single practice, every single game. He's a high-motor guy who plays with a lot of intensity. He's not the biggest kid, but because of his competitive nature and who he is, he's not afraid to play an abrasive, physical game. He's had some huge checks and gotten into a few scraps. He's probably one of my favorite kids I've ever coached."

Joe Connor

Bauer Berry, D: The 18-year-old left-handed shot (6-3, 198), the son of University of North Dakota coach Brad Berry, is a big, strong defenseman with high hockey IQ. He had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 59 regular-season games. He's No. 154 in Central Scouting's final rankings.

"He sees the game very well, is very responsible and is another kid who's first over the boards when it's time to kill a penalty," Burgess said. "He'll block shots, is physical down low, and creates some offensive opportunities with his IQ. When he gets up in the rush or goes low to high in the offensive zone, his awareness is really great, so he's able to get pucks to the net. He can make a good first pass and is a terrific teammate. He's got some leadership qualities about him too."

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