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