USHL Readies for Draft May 5-6
While the Waterloo Black Hawks and Indiana Ice prepare to meet for the USHL's Clark Cup Final beginning this Friday, an important part of the league's future plans will be put in place Monday and Tuesday during the 2014 USHL Draft.
The two-part draft starts with Phase 1 taking place on Monday, May 5, beginning at 5 p.m. CDT. For the third consecutive year, picks in Phase 1 will be announced on a live broadcast at www.USHL.com. The USHL Draft Show is being provided for free via FASTHockey, the USHL’s exclusive digital video network.
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Phase 1 consists of eight rounds as USHL teams will select players from the 1998 birth year. This single-age portion of the USHL Draft allows teams to choose players who are traditionally not ready to play in the USHL the following season, but will continue to develop at lower levels of hockey in preparation for USHL play in future seasons. While not yet USHL full-timers, a number of those players will see game action in the coming season.
Multiple players selected in Phase 1 last year suited up during the 2013-14 season, including forward Robby Jackson, the third-round selection of the Chicago Steel who went on to score 28 goals while appearing in all 60 regular season contests. Defenseman Steven Ruggiero, a Penn State commit, also saw significant time with the Youngstown Phantoms, playing 41 games after the team selected him in the second round a year ago.
Now in its third year, the USHL tender process allows teams to sign up to two 1998 birth year players prior to the 2014 USHL Draft. The first “tender” for a team would take the place of a first-round pick in Phase 1 of the USHL Draft, and if the team tenders a second player, that would take the place of its second-round selection in Phase 1. As of late last week, six teams had elected to tender players prior to Monday’s draft, including the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders who utilized both of their available tenders. The Dubuque Fighting Saints, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Omaha Lancers, Waterloo Black Hawks, and Youngstown Phantoms have each tendered one player. All tendered players will be on their respective teams’ roster next season and play at least 55% of their teams’ regular season games.
The selection order for the USHL Draft: Phase 1 is based on the reverse order of the 2013-14 regular season final standings, meaning the Fargo Force hold the first pick in each round of the 2014 USHL Draft, followed by the Youngstown Phantoms and Tri-City Storm. The Anderson Cup champion Waterloo Black Hawks will select last in each round. The expansion Madison Capitols and Bloomington Thunder are also participating in the 2014 USHL Draft and will select after the non-playoff teams in each round. Both Madison and Bloomington will also have two additional picks at the end of the eighth and final round of Phase 1.
Trades made by teams prior to the draft will affect selections in specific rounds, but the draft order will maintain throughout each round of Phase 1 and continue with Phase 2 of the 2014 USHL Draft.
Team USA does not participate in the USHL Draft as they hold a separate player-selection process that is completed in cooperation with the other USHL Member Clubs.
Phase 2 of the 2014 USHL Draft is scheduled for Tuesday, May 6, beginning at 8 a.m. CT. All selections will be posted in real-time at USHL.com. In this phase, USHL teams will select players from multiple birth years as they look to fill their protected lists with players who will compete for roster spots for the 2014-15 season. Phase 2 continues until all USHL teams have secured 45 players on their Initial Protected List. That list includes affiliate players from the 2013-14 season, players selected in Phase 1, and players signed to a tender.
Last year, the Indiana Ice selected Western Michigan recruit Aidan Muir with the first overall pick in Phase 2. He would later be selected in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers and then go on to record 41 points (14g, 27a) in 54 games this season for the Ice. The Sioux City Musketeers selected Bowling Green commit Brandon Hawkins fourth overall in 2013 and he led the team with 26 goals this season. In the second round of Phase 2 in 2013, the Muskegon Lumberjacks selected another WMU recruit in Matt Iacopelli, and the forward set both a team record and led the USHL with 41 goals this season.