2015 Set to be an Unprecedented Year for American-Born & VJW Players

While talk of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft is growing with each passing day, it's hard not to think about how bright the future looks for American-born players.

VJW Alum and Boxford native Chris Kreider is currently playing a major role in the New York Rangers' quest for the Stanley Cup. In addition to playing for the Warriors from mites through bantam, Kreider was the 19th overall selection of the New York Rangers in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Recent reports are now speculating that 2015 will be a year where American players - and specifically Valley Jr Warrior ones - dominate the NHL Draft.

The following is the second of a three-part feature called "Valley Jr. Warriors Put Massachusetts Back on the NHL Map" that highlights the Warriors’ impressive impact on developing local talent.

Part I examined the top New England talent in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft (click here). Part III will look at the top local prospects in the 2016 draft.

2015 Set to be an Unprecedented Year for American-Born Players

VJW 2015 NHL First-Round Prospects: From top - Noah Hanifin, Colin White, Casey Fitzgerald & Cam Askew
Fast forward one year from now and you could see three former Valley Jr Warrior players being drafted in the top 5.

You read that right.

Three VJW alums – Noah Hanifin, Colin White and Casey Fitzgerald - are projected by The Scouting Report to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft as the second, third and fourth overall picks.

While draft day is always unpredictable and speculation is wild leading up to the official announcement, there is no question that a core of VJW alums have been consistently in the conversation.

In fact, there have been suggestions that Hanifin could potentially jump into that first overall spot if a team is looking for a top defenseman from that age group.

The simple fact that three Warriors are projected to go in that first round is stunning for so many reasons. Here are just a few.

  • The United States averages four to five first-round picks in each NHL Entry Draft.
  • Massachusetts has not had a first-round pick since 2011.
  • The last Massachusetts player to be drafted as the first overall pick was Winthrop native Rick DiPietro in 2000.
  • Since the draft began in 1963, only six Americans have achieved the honor of being the first name announced.

Having that many potential first-round selections hail from Massachusetts would be major news, but the fact that they are all from the same program is unheard of and quite possibly unprecedented.

It is just another way that the Valley Junior Warrior program is helping to put Massachusetts back on the NHL map.

“It is exciting and we are so proud of these players for having the opportunity to be selected so high,” said Steve MacAdams, the VJW’s director of program development and head coach of the VJW ’97 Elite team. “Our program continues to focus on player development and we are happy to see so many excel at such a high level.”

Hanifin, White and Fitzgerald join impressive company as potential first-round selections. A recent VJW first rounder – Chris Kreider – was drafted 19th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and has emerged as one of the brightest young NHL stars.

Another name that is being mentioned as a potential first-round selection is Cam Askew. All four players were members of the VJW ’97 Elite squad and helped the Warriors advance to the USA Hockey National Championships in 2010 and 2012. While Hanifin, White and Fitzgerald left Massachusetts in order to compete for the U.S. National Under-17 Team, Askew chose to play for Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

Here is a little more about each player.

Noah Hanifin - D
During the 2013-14 season, Hanifin competed in his first season with the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP). In 31 USHL games, he scored six goals and 14 assists for 20 points. Hanifin also competed at the 2014 World U17 Hockey Challenge where he captained the U.S. squad.

According to The Scouting Report, Hanifin... "plays a solid shutdown game in his own end, using his size and his stick work to eliminate chances and neutralize forwards. Hanifin makes strong defensive reads and recoveries and is tough to beat outside; maintaining great gap control and utilizing his hockey IQ and anticipation. He is also skilled with the puck and moves very well for a big defenseman. Hanifin recently announced that he has expedited his high school studies and will arrive at Boston College a year early as a true 17-year-old defenseman."

Colin White - F
According to The Scouting Report... "White is coming off a very impressive performance at the U17 Hockey Challenge where he totaled 18 points in six games to lead the tournament. He has a 9-6-15 scoring line in 19 games for the National Team and has found success against USHL clubs. White is a solid all-around player who blends tremendous speed with good puck-skills. He gets to the right spots on the ice to make a play and he does a great job getting back and supporting on defense. He works hard in all three zones and has a lot of similarities to current U18 forward, Dylan Larkin. The Boston College commit is shaping up as a potential top five pick in 2015; a very impressive group when you factor in Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid on forward alone."

Casey Fitzgerald - D
An impact player for the U.S. National Under-17 Team, Fitzgearld has impressive NHL bloodlines as his father Tom played more than 1,000 games in the league. His brother Ryan was a fourth-round selection by the Boston Bruins in the most recent NHL Draft and was the EJHL Rookie of the Year while playing for the VJW Junior A team. Fitzgerald, a North Reading native, plans to join his brother at Boston College.

Cam Askew - F
Askew was selected 11th overall by Drummondville in the 2013 QMJHL Draft. He was also drafted by the Indiana Ice (1st overall) in the 2013 USHL Draft, but decided to play in the QMJHL with the Voltiguers. Just this week, it was announced that he has been traded and will now compete for the Moncton Wildcats.

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 26–27, 2015 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

13-14 Winter Season
VJW '97 Elite Standout Netminder Elijah Harris Commits to Brown University
May 28, 14
2015 Set to be an Unprecedented Year for American-Born & VJW Players
VJW Alum Chris Kreider Emerges as An NHL Game Changer
Valley Jr. Warriors Put Massachusetts Back on the NHL Map - Part I of III
VJW Alum Noah Hanifin Named to U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team
Looking Forward to 2014 VJW Tournaments
Former Warrior Mike Vecchione Helps Union College Win First National Title
VJW '97 Elites Cap Off Superior Season at USA Hockey National Championship
It's Game Time for VJW U16's at the 2014 USA Hockey National Championship
Former Warriors - Fitzgerald, Silk & Vecchione - Highlight Frozen Four
Three VJW Junior A Players Announce Plans for 2014-15 Season
VJW ’97 Elites Prepare for 2014 USA Hockey U16 Tier I National Championship
Three VJW '00 Elites Participate in Prestigous East Coast Young Guns Showcase
VJW Players Highlight 2014 Super 8 Hockey Championship
Valley Jr Warrior Junior A Team Soars Into Second Round of EHL Playoffs
A Parent's Perspective: Reflections On Another Great Season of Warrior Hockey
Valley Jr Warriors Post Perfect Record on NEHL Championship Sunday
Valley Jr Warrior Teams Win Three NEHL Championship Titles
In Memory of Paul Gilmartin, Sr.
VJW Alums Lead USA Under-17 team to Another International Title
Thanks to VJW Alum Alex Carpenter For Representing Team USA at Sochi
Valley Jr Warriors Named Charter Member of E9 Elite Hockey League
So Much to Look Forward to - VJW Tryout Season Begins This Week
VJW Alums Ryan Fitzgerald & Brendan Silk Celebrate 62nd Beanpot Tournament Win
Former NHL Stars Ken Hodge & Scott Lachance Named VJW Bantam Coaches
VJW Junior A Standout Charlie Widmar Commits to St. Olaf College
Did You Know? 10% of the Beanpot Players Are Valley Jr Warrior Alums!
Former Warrior Ryan Heavey Stands Tall for Babson Beavers
Former VJW Player Jake Kulevich Has Found a Home at Colgate
VJW Accepting Applications From Experienced and Qualified Coaches
NY Islander Goaltending Coach & Former Olympian Visits VJW Practice
VJW Teams Head to Rhode Island for JWK Tournament
VJW '00 Selects Enjoy A Night at Frozen Fenway
Former Warriors Lead Team USA to a Gold Medal at the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challen
Alex Carpenter Named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team Roster
VJW '03 Elites Advance to Semifinals at the North American Frozen Cup
Two Former Valley Jr Warriors Players Continue Impressive Carpenter Legacy
Mark Your Calendars Today for 2014 VJW Tournaments
VJW '97 Elites - Massachusetts State Champions
VJW '00 Selects Take Time to Give Back During the Holiday Season
VJW '01 Elites Impress and Dominate at 2013-2014 Super01 Series Tournament
Valley Jr Warriors Youth Teams Continue NEHL Player of the Week Streak
Charlie Widmar & Shane Tracy Named EHL Mid-Season All Stars
VJW '00 Elites Make National Statement; Now Ranked 12th In the Nation
Another Major Success For the Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament
VJW Teams Win Three of Six Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament Titles
Former Warrior Chris Kreider Nets First Career NHL Hat Trick
VJW Teams Prepare For Playoffs at Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament
2013 Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament Kicks Off in Haverhill
Four Former Warriors Reunite in NCAA Division I Showdown
Ken Hodge & Ryan St. Jean Backstop VJW '00 Elites to a Great Start
VJW Junior A Squad Scores Four Power-Play Goals in League Win
Cam Askew Takes his VJW Talents to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
From the VJW to the NHL: Chris Kreider and Corey Schneider
Logan Bridgewater Named NEHL Player of the Week
VJW '99 Elites Advance to Mass State Championship Finals
Hunter Wilhoite Named Eastern Hockey League Defensive Player of the Week
Former Warrior Ryan Fitzgerald Named Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week
VJW U16 Tier I Team Capture 3rd State Championship & Are National Bound... Again
VJW Junior A Team Happy to Be Back Home
Four VJW Players Receive NEHL Player of the Week Honors
VJW '00 Elites Capture 2013 East Coast Classic Prep Cup Tournament Title
VJW '97 Elites Dominate and Win 2013 Midget Fall Classic
Jack Toohey Named the New England Hockey League Player of the Week
Fitzgerald, Hanifin & White Suit Up for U.S. National Under-17 Team
VJW Junior A Team Falls to Northern Cyclones in Week 2
Brendan Parent of the VJW '99s Named NEHL Player of the Week
VJW '03 Elites Advance to Finals of 2013 AAA Rochester Invitational
A new season. A new league. A new team. A new opportunity for the VJW Junior A Team
VJW Play Featured in NEHL Weekly Roundups (9/8)
VJW Teams Perform Well During Week 1 of NEHL Qualifying Jamboree
EHL Partners with EDUCATEAthletes for Full Suite of Educational Services
VJW 04 Selects Advance to Finals of Rinks at Exeter Tournament