No. 1-ranked NHL draft prospect Jack Hughes and seven other projected 2019 first round picks will be featured performers at the DICK'S Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic to be held September 27-30 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.
More than 350 NHL, collegiate and amateur scouts will be in attendance as all 17 USHL teams play two regular season games apiece. It marks the third straight year that the country's top development league will hold its marquee scouting event at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, practice home of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In addition, there will be elite invitational youth tournaments featuring 16 top teams in each of four age groups - 14-and-under, 15-and-under, 16-and-under and 18-and under - all presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods.
"When you factor in National Hockey League scouts and NCAA coaches as well as scouts from Canadian Hockey League teams … I don't know that there are this many eyes on players at any other event in the world," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting.
"With all 17 USHL teams in one location, the Fall Classic is an ideal opportunity for management and scouts of all 31 NHL teams to view the top USHL talent available for the NHL Draft. It is an important evaluation benchmark, and we are pleased that this successful event is part of a growing business partnership between the USHL, NHL and the Pittsburgh Penguins."
Hughes, the consensus No. 1 overall prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft, skates for USA Hockey's National Development Team, which competes in the USHL regular season. Seven of his teammates on the under-18 national development team were also projected as 2019 first-round picks in recent TSN rankings: right wing Cole Caufield (No. 10 overall), center Alex Turcotte (12), left wing Matthew Boldy (14), defenseman Cam York (17), goaltender Spencer Knight (18), center Trevor Zegras (20) and defenseman Alex Vlasic (26). And center/left wing John Beecher is ranked just outside the first round at 32nd overall.
In addition, there will be seven local players competing for USHL teams: Liam Walsh (Bridgeville), Cedar Rapids RoughRiders; Matt Weber (Coraopolis), Fargo Force; Paul Maust (Butler), Green Bay Gamblers; Chad Veltri (Fox Chapel), Sioux Falls Stampede; Austen Swankler (North Huntingdon), Waterloo Black Hawks; Jacob Kucharski (Erie), Des Moines Buccaneers; and Roman Kraemer (Pittsburgh), Youngstown Phantoms. Kraemer is committed to attend Robert Morris.
USHL teams also will use the event as a scouting opportunity, with the chance to see and evaluate top prospects from the four youth divisions - underscoring the classic's status as "the premier scouting event in the United States," according to one official.
Other participating local rinks are the Baierl Ice Complex in Warrendale, the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island, the Printscape Arena at Southpointe and the Alpha Ice Complex in Harmarville.
"The Pittsburgh Penguins are excited to have the DICK'S Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic return to the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex for the third straight year," said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Penguins. "It's truly a unique event - a great opportunity for all 17 USHL teams to come together in one setting and compete before so many NHL scouts and college coaches. We are strong supporters of amateur hockey development at all levels and continue to be impressed with the job the USHL does to create opportunities for these outstanding young players."
Ticket information for the DICK'S Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic is available here.