Eden Prairie High School star and Mr. Hockey Award front-runner Kyle Rau will play his final high school season with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, rather than playing for Eden Prairie High School. Rau played with the Stampede two weekends ago, and racked up three assists in an 8-4 blowout win over Youngstown.
There's likely to be some fallout from this decision in the Minnesota hockey world. Eden Prairie head coach Lee Smith was understandably upset to lose his top player days before the start of the season, suggesting that while Rau was initially told he could play high school hockey for his senior season and still go directly to Minnesota next season, that deal changed, and Rau decided to forgo high school hockey this year, so he could go directly to Minnesota.
I'm sure we'll see a second story come from the Minnesota camp as damage control, saying the decision was entirely up to Rau, but this is a pretty major change of heart coming very late in the game for there not to be some sort of outside variable changing things.
I don't see any problem with Don Lucia and Minnesota suggesting Rau is better off in the USHL. Their number one priority is their program, and it's their right to do what they see best. But if that was their determination, that decision should have been made months ago. The timing of this stinks for Eden Prairie, and is particularly disappointing given Don Lucia has been one of the most outspoken critics of NHL teams signing college players late in the summer.
This is a huge blow for Eden Prairie, and Minnesota high school hockey in general. It blows the Mr. Hockey race wide open, but makes an already weak class even weaker.