4 Minnesotans Set For USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game


USA Hockey has announced the 42-player roster for the 2014 USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, which highlights the best American-born players eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. 23 of the 42 players in the game appeared on 2014-15 NHL Central Scouting Futures List, a list highlighting players likely to be selected in the first three rounds of the 2015 draft. On the roster, which features top prospect Jack Eichel, are four Minnesotans.

Those Minnesotans are forwards Alec Baer (St. Louis Park, MN, played last season with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL), Paul Bittner (Crookston, MN, played last season with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL), Brock Boeser (Burnsville, MN, played last season with the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL), and defenseman Jack McNeely (Lakeville, MN, played last season for Lakeville North High School). The roster also features future University of Minnesota Golden Gopher and River Falls, WI-native Tom Novak, who spent last season with St. Thomas Academy and will be headed to the Waterloo Blackhawks this coming season.

All-in-all there’s a lot to watch for NCAA fans. There are four players committed to Boston College and four committed to the University of Michigan playing, as well as three each from Miami University and University of Notre Dame, and two each from University of Wisconsin, Boston University, Harvard, and Providence College. There is also a single player committed to each of the following schools: St. Lawrence University, Ohio State University, University of Denver, University of North Dakota, Western Michigan University, University of Nebraska-Omaha, and Penn State University.

In a press release announcing the rosters, Jim Johannson, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations, said, “Input from the NHL scouting community is that this year’s game will feature the highest level of talent to date for this event.” That may have a lot to do with Eichel, who USA Hockey is pushing as a future representative of American Hockey.

The release also breaks down the lineup this way:

"Thirty-two players have ties to the United States Hockey League, the top junior league in the U.S., including 20 players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Two players are slated to play the 2014-15 season in the North American Hockey League, which is the only Tier-II level of junior hockey in the U.S."

The game will be held on September 25 at First Niagara Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres, who are certainly one of the teams racing to the bottom of the league for the 2014-15 season to get either Eichel or his Canadian counterpart and comeptitor for the #1 overall draft position, Connor McDavid. Oddly enough, the Sabres have been long thought as a home for one of these two, because the team has been terrible for a while now, and the Sabres arena will host both this game with Eichel and a game with McDavid and his Eerie Otters of the OHL. The Eerie Otters will play one game at First Niagra on October 22 against the Niagara Ice Dogs, also of the OHL.

Coincidence? Mostly. Or maybe since there won’t be many quality games played at First Niagra this season, the Sabres are hoping to get the fan base excited about the future by getting them a taste of Eichel and McDavid now. (That’s not really what’s happening, but maybe a little.)

See the full roster here.