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U.S.-born prospects to watch for 2015 NHL Draft

by Mike G. Morreale

Each Thursday, will highlight three prospects to watch for the 2015 NHL Draft. This week, the focus is on three players who competed in the 2014 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo on Sept. 25.

The 2014 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 25 provided a positive glimpse of what the future holds for American-born players eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.

"I think it was a great showcase," winning coach Mike Grier said at the end of the game. "You see the talent that is out there and you can put it up there against any country in the world. You see kids from California, Georgia, Texas … kids from all over the place. The game is growing and the fact NHL Network was here to telecast the game shows you how big it is so we're right there with being able to compete with any other country for sure."

A weekly draft profile on a top prospect eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft:
Many scouts consider center Colin White the second best American-born forward on the 2015 NHL Draft board after projected top-two pick Jack Eichel, and for good reason.

White, a 6-foot, 183-pound center with the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team, will attend Boston College in 2015-16. He has four goals and eight points in seven games for the NTDP in the United States Hockey League.

White played high school hockey at Noble & Greenough School in Massachusetts, and had 33 goals and 63 points in 47 games as an assistant captain for the USNTDP U-17 team in 2013-14. He led all scorers with 10 goals and 18 points in six games for the U.S. at the World U-17 Hockey Championship.

White compares his style of play to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron as a speedy, two-way center.


NHL team: Pittsburgh Penguins
NHL player: Sidney Crosby
Shootout move: Forehand to backhand 
Goal celebration: Hands up!
Video game: NHL14
Movie: "22 Jump Street"
TV show: "Two and A Half Men"
Actor: Adam Sandler
Cartoon character: Bugs Bunny
Website: Twitter 
Music: "Shot At The Night" by The Killers
Three to invite to dinner: Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn.
Sport (other than hockey): Football
Pregame meal: Chicken parmesan

-- Mike G. Morreale

Though there were many players who earned praise from the 200-plus coaches and scouts in attendance at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, here are three players given an A-rating on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list that could become first-round picks at the 2015 draft.

1. Jordan Greenway, USNTDP (USHL): Bound for Boston University in 2015-16, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound left wing doesn't hide from the fact he is the prototypical power forward and enjoys playing that type of game. He certainly opened space for potential top-two draft choice Jack Eichel (Boston University) when he was moved onto the top line by Grier at the AAPG and had with two assists, five shots on goal and a plus-3 rating in a 6-3 victory against Team Eddie Olczyk.

"He's a guy that has great puck skills for a man of his size and can get out of traffic with so much ease," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "He shoots the puck really well and is an elite-level guy. In the USHL Fall Classic [in September] he jumped right in and dominated. He's just got to learn to control his emotions, but he's obviously a top candidate."

2. Zach Werenski, University of Michigan (Big Ten): The 6-1, 201-pound left-shot defenseman didn't have a point for Team Grier at the AAPG, but did generate two shots and a plus-2 rating while paired with Brandon Carlo (Tri-City Americans, Western Hockey League) for much of the game. Werenski was one of three college freshmen competing in the AAPG with a good shot at being drafted in the opening round. He joins Eichel and defenseman Noah Hanifin (Boston College) as first-year collegians with plenty to offer NHL scouts.

"I think he's going to be a legitimate top-10 pick," Gregory said. "His size, mobility and quickness make him a unique package. He still plays that physical game and he was a player you couldn't help but notice every game as an underage player last year [with the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-17 team]."

3. Kyle Connor, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL): Connor earns his share of ice time as a two-way forward capable of playing hard in all three zones. Capable of playing center or wing, the 6-1, 182-pound left-handed shooter is committed to the University of Michigan in 2015-16. Connor, who will submit a monthly blog for leading up the NHL draft, had one assist, three shots and a plus-2 rating for Team Grier at the AAPG. He was one of three players participating in the game that had taken part in the USA Hockey national junior team development camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August; Carlo and Eichel were the others.

"He's got a nice stride and quickness, and he's good in tight spaces with the puck," Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen said. "I saw him against the U18 NTDP and he really elevated his game. He wants the puck and when he gets it he makes things happen."

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