scott campbell | priorityselection.ca
TORONTO, Ont. -- Sure, it doesn't receive the same level of hype that the OHL's annual Priority Selection does - but that doesn't mean it should be an afterthought.
If May 1st isn't already marked in your calendar, it probably should be. Why? That's the date the USHL has pegged for its 10-round Phase I Draft, which will feature '01 birthdate players primarily from the United States - with a sprinkle of Canadians and potentially other international players as well.
The Phase I Draft is often a crapshoot to predict at the best of times, but one element that makes things a bit easier is the league's tender process. Unlike Canada's major junior leagues, the tender process allows USHL teams to forfeit their 1st round pick in exchange for signing a player with mutual interest to a tender. That tender provides the USHL team with the rights to that player and removes them from being eligible for the draft.
Yeah, something like this would never fly in the OHL, but it's continued to feature prominently in the USHL over the past several years. In fact, teams actually the ability to use two tenders - and forfeit their 2nd round pick - if they wish to do so. The one caveat? A tendered player must play in 55% of the team's games as a 16-year-old, so the USHL team needs to be confident that said player is able to contribute as a first-year rookie or risk being in a tough situation.
The NTDP's continued delay of a final roster announcement for the Under-17 team has likely played a fairly large role towards only two tenders being announced thus far, but we should probably see another round of announcements come out over the next several days in advance of the league's deadline to finalize tender agreements. On that same tangent, it would be fairly shocking if the NTDP continues to delay their roster announcement into May, as the finalized roster has been floated many times yet remains unofficial.
Kuntar, Mastrosimone highlight early tenders
Trevor Kuntar kicked off the tender season as he inked with the Youngstown Phantoms, which is the closest geographic team for the former Buffalo Jr. Sabres forward. After signing two tenders in the '00 class, Youngstown will hope to cash in on 2-3 seasons from the Harvard commit who has the ability to be an impact player in the league down the road.
For a league that can often be gruelling on 16-year-old players, it's probably unwise to expect anything more than 20 points next year, but Kuntar is a player that should be able to use his skating ability and playmaking instincts to make up for some of the physical challenges he'll face playing against players who will be two or three years his senior.
While it was a fairly big surprise for us to see Kuntar omitted from the NTDP's Selection Camp, Robert Mastrosimone did make the list but ultimately found himself on the outside looking in when it came down to finalizing their roster. While his mid-season injury more than likely didn't do him any favours, it was certainly a surprise to see the NTDP bypass him; making his tender agreement far from a surprise.
As he'll get set to begin his USHL career with the Chicago Steel, Mastrosimone is actually the first player to sign a tender agreement with the franchise since the USHL implemented the program back in 2012. Like Kuntar, size won't exactly be a strength for the East Islip, N.Y. native, but the Boston University commit could certainly put up 20-30 points in the right situation and should be utilized on the powerplay in some capacity.
The OHL will play a role come draft day
It hasn't taken long for the OHL to already throw a wrench into some USHL plans, as Andrew Perrott is more than likely going to be suiting up as a member of the London Knights next year. After committing to Miami-Ohio earlier this season, the hard-nosed defenseman would have attracted interest in the high rounds of the USHL Phase I Draft, with an emphasis on would.
After being selected in the 2nd round of the OHL Priority Selection, it looks like Perrott's path will take him through the OHL instead, and he may not be the only one.
Who are some other names that could be in the same boat? Dalton DuHart is a dual citizen who was also selected by those very same London Knights by way of the 3rd round. After putting up no shortage of points with Belle Tire this year, DuHart will certainly generate a lot of USHL interest - if that's a route he wants to pursue.
Marcus Gretz may be very much in play for Flint, and if that's the case, his Ohio State commitment and USHL prospects could alter significantly. Ditto Mack Guzda, another 2nd round selection in this year's OHL Priority Selection who adds a layer of intrigue as he too is a dual citizen. The list goes on, but players like Austen Swankler, Dylan Wendt, and Brendan Kischnick will be just a few players to monitor closely to see if their USHL draft position gives any hints to suggest whether or not the OHL may be in play as early as next year.
See you on May 1st.