Jack Eichel – 6’2-193 – The most highly touted American prospect since Pat Kane comes from North Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Eichel tore up the youth hockey ranks prior to coming to the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 13′-14′ Eichel had what amounted to the fourth most productive season of all time for the USNTDP program that has produced a steady stream on NHL stars. Canada’s Connor McDavid has drawn comparisons to Sidney Crosby as the next “Chosen One”, but many scouts consider Eichel a serious threat to his stranglehold on the #1 spot for the 2015 NHL Draft.
Eichel, who would normally be in HS this year, has accelerated his studies and will suit up for Boston University in the Hockey East.
Jack Eichel isn’t the only American who’s playing NCAA hockey a year early, Boston College welcomes 17 year old phenom Noah Hanifin on the blue line.
Noah Hanifin – 6’2-200 – Hanifin is the best defenseman in this year’s draft. Scouts describe him as a rare blend of size, athleticism and hockey IQ. Hanifin burst onto the scene back in 2010 as a freshman playing for the prep school St. Sebastian’s. It was immediately evident that he possessed a high skill level and maturity. Like Eichel, scouts view Hanifin as a 3 zone player, he’s responsible defensively and effective offensively.
Zach Werenski – 6’1-206- Like Hanifin and Eichel, Werenski is coming to the NCAA a year early and has elite skills. The best way to describe his game is a good sized, very skilled defenseman. Werenski kept NCAA fans worried in 13′-14 until he signed with Michigan. The Wolverines have lost a ton of high-level players to the OHL in recent years. Werenski is from Michigan and developed in with the prominent Belle Tire organization prior to playing for the USNTDP.
Kyle Connor – 6’1-170 – Unlike Eichel, Hanifin and Werenski, Connor will play juniors in the USHL this year. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t on the same level. Connor is an elite prospect because of his scoring ability. As a younger player in the USHL last season, he absolutely tore it up (74 points in 53 games played). He’s signed to play with Michigan beginning in 2015. Like Werenski, Connor is from Michigan.
Colin White – 6’0-175 – With Hanifin, Eichel and Werenski playing NCAA this year, White will be the brighest star on the USNTDP roster. White, from Massachusetts, is a proven scorer at every level he’s played. He’s slated to play at Boston College beginning in 2015. White came to the USNTDP as a very high end prospect, but has since taken his game to another level. He wowed scouts at the U-17 World Challenge by posting 18 points in six games played.
Jeremy Bracco – 5’9-172 – The fact that Bracco is being mentioned as a 1st round NHL draft pick despite being (generously) listed at 5’9-172 is a testament to his skill level. It’s hard to doubt a player who surpassed USNTDP records set by Pat Kane. Bracco is from Long Island and last played for the New Jersey Rockets organization prior to coming to the USNTDP. He is slated to play at Boston College beginning in 2015.
Tom Novak – 6’1-181 – Novak doesn’t have the hype that the others have, but that could soon change. While the rest of this group was playing in the USHL last season, Novak was tearing up the Minnesota HS ranks for St.Thomas Academy. The Wisconsin native is slated to play for Waterloo in the USHL this season and should be one of the best offensive players in the league. He had a great showing at the Ivan Hlinka tournament over the summer and scouts rave about his offensive flair. Novak will suit up for Minnesota beginning in 2015.
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