The 2014-15 season was another one in which the U.S. National Team Development Program saw its work culminate in a gold medal at the U18 World Championship, this time around in Zug, Switzerland.
After knocking off the Canadians 7-2 in the semifinal, the U.S. had its hands full with an upstart Team Finland, scratching up all it could in gaining a 2-1 overtime victory after Sebastian Aho of Finland scored just 17 seconds into the final.
Aside from a silver medal in a tough 3-2 loss to Canada in Sochi in the spring of 2013, the U.S. has managed to take U18 gold in six of the last seven years. The dominance of the program and its philosophy at this level is undisputed. This hasn’t yet led to many players hearing their names called in the first round of an NHL Draft, but Dylan Larkin (DET), Sonny Milano (CBJ), and Alex Tuch (MIN) all were chosen in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft. In heart and soul forward Colin White and magical playmaker Jeremy Bracco, it is believed that two of this year’s crop has a shot at going in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Nonetheless, this year’s graduating class once again has a number of players who will surely be ofr great interest to NHL teams throughout the entire draft and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of recent graduates such as Justin Faulk (CAR), Seth Jones (NSH), Jacob Trouba (WPG), J.T. Miller (NYR), and John Gibson (ANA), to name a few, who have at least started to get their feet wet at the NHL level. As was the case at last year’s draft, 10 or more players from the program are expected to be property of an NHL franchise come the end of the NHL Draft this weekend.
Here’s a look at some of the names to watch for, and where Hockey’s Future expects those players to be chosen (Draft rank position prediction) in the 2015 NHL Draft.
1. Colin White – F – Shoots: Right – 6‘0“, 183 lbs.
CSS North American Rank #29
Jan. 30th, 1997
A hustler who is ready to go through the wall for his team, Colin White is a player who somehow looks and plays as if he were three inches taller and 25 pounds heavier. A complete, two-way forward who wears his heart on his sleeve, White’s true colors were put on display at the 2015 U18 World Championship, where he knocked in the game-winning goal in overtime to give the U.S. a 2-1 victory over upstart Finland. It was his sixth goal and ninth point of the tournament, in which he pivoted the team’s second line and put up a +8 in the process.
Able to read the game at a high level and active at all times whether with or without the puck, White’s true strengths lie in puck possession, management, and protection. Very adept at cycling and winning battles along the boards, his game consists of intangibles, and it’s his resiliency and work ethic that establish those intangibles. All of that adds up into a player who also shoots and passes well, often able to shine in this capacity in an almost unexpected manner. This past season, White scored at roughly a point-per-game pace, gathering 17 points and a +17 in 20 USHL contests and then another 23 goals and 54 points in 54 games for the U.S. NTDP program.
Scheduled to attend and play for Boston College this fall, the Massachusetts native has seen his star rise in the latter part of the 2014-15 season. Although only ranked 29th among North Americans, many feel White could go within the top 20 this summer as every organization values complete players of this nature.
Draft rank position prediction: Between spots 14-28.
2. Christian Fischer – F – Shoots: Right – 6‘1“, 212 lbs.
CSS North American Rank #37
Apr. 15th, 1997
For those fond of big, well-built players who can do a little bit of everything and their fair share of bulldozing in the process, then look no further than Notre Dame commit Christian Fischer. A player for every situation, Fischer is a package of an imposing physical force with a playmaker’s skill. Still finding his way through the world of danglers and needle-threaders, Fischer’s bread and butter is his all-around polished game across 200 feet. This is accompanied by a fine ability to score goals and set up his teammates, something he does in an equally strong capacity. Not the fastest player, Fischer is nonetheless a strong skater who can be a terror along the boards and in front of the net. For the U.S. NTDP, he often assumed a second- or third-line role and proved extremely capable and responsible in handling things in his own end of the ice.
For the gold medal-winning U18 USA squad, Fischer contributed a goal and eight points along with a +2 rating in seven games in Switzerland, doing a lot of yeoman’s work along the way. Throughout the long winter, the very durable Fischer had 15 goals, 30 points and a +16 rating in 25 USHL contests while chipping in another 31 goals and 64 points in 66 games. Although never one to shy away from the rough stuff, Fischer is very responsible with his actions and only collected 32 penalty minutes all of last winter.
Set to suit for the University of Notre Dame this fall, the Illinois native is expected to be a hot second round commodity on draft weekend.
Draft rank position prediction: Between spots 38-65.
3. Jack Roslovic – F – Shoots: Right – 6‘0“, 187 lbs.
CSS North American Rank #39
Jan. 29th, 1997
Jack Roslovic won’t necessarily wow you with his speed, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more complete complementary player for your team. A member of the program’s top line this past winter, Roslovic harmonized perfectly with top 2016-eligible draft talents Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk this past winter, culminating in a gold medal at the U18 World Championship where Roslovic scored an all-important equalizer halfway through the game to get the U.S. to overtime.
Strong on his stick, Roslovic shows keen offensive awareness and has an amazing ability to dangle in corners and read oncoming attackers. Adept at protecting the puck, he looks for just the right passing and shooting opportunities and can bounce back from checks on a whim. He’s also proven extremely capable of dealing with the pressure and ice time that comes with first-line minutes. This was seen time and time again at the U18, where Roslovic collected six goals, 11 points, and a +11 rating in seven games.
Only of average size and surely looking to gain weight as he continues to grow, Roslovic had a top-flight season in a scoring capacity. In 25 USHL games, he managed to contribute 11 goals, 38 points, and a +19 rating. He then put an exclamation point on that production by scoring 27 goals and 79 points in 65 program games. Very intelligent with and without the puck, his savvy ability to find teammates while drawing attention to himself has made him an impact player every step of the way thus far in his career.
An Ohio native, Roslovic is scheduled to attend the Miami University this fall, where he’s expected to be a go-to guy right from the start. Despite his CSS ranking, it is strongly felt that some teams might see him as being worthy of a late first round pick.
Draft rank position prediction: Between spots 22-45.
4. Jordan Greenway – F – Shoots: Left – 6‘5“, 222 lbs.
CSS North American Rank #47
Feb. 16th, 1996
With that height and weight at such a young age, Jordan Greenway is already a man playing in a boy’s body. But with size and adolescence often comes awkwardness, and Greenway had trouble developing in an offensive capacity in the manner expected of him coming into the season. Not shy about applying his size, Greenway seems to fancy himself as more of a skill player and can at times show tendencies in that direction. Still, he is a work in progress, particularly with respect to his positioning, coordination, skating, and offensive awareness. Fortunately for him, there was no perfect program for this than where he spent last winter, as he never had to assume too much responsibility and could spend lots of time working on other aspects of what is still a somewhat inconsistent game.
Clear, though, is the potential of what a player this size could do when he finally gets everything together, and there is naturally a lot of time for the very outgoing and enthusiastic Greenway to do just that. This is something that will surely attract a number of NHL clubs to want to add him despite some of the aforementioned areas of concern. Playing on primarily third and fourth lines at the U18, Greenway was a key low-line producer and ace in the sleeve of sorts in collecting a goal, seven points, and a +6 in the gold medal-winning effort. His performance over the winter showed that Greenway is not yet finding the net or using his shot enough, while nonetheless showing some key sensory perception in finding teammates with passes. In 22 USHL games, Jordan had five goals, 20 points, and a +15 rating. He topped that with nine goals and 44 points in 53 program games.
A native of New York, graduate of Shattuck St. Mary’s, and older brother to the highly-touted and similarly-sized defenseman James Greenway, Jordan will be heading to Boston University next fall, likely just missing out on an opportunity to play with Jack Eichel.
Draft rank position prediction: Between spots 40-70.