It's currently tryout season for many USHL teams. I caught parts of the Sioux Falls and Fargo camps here in the Twin Cities. The Unofficial Lincoln Stars Blog has been attending Lincoln's camp and had some great write-ups on some of the goings on.
Meanwhile, Huntington, West Virginia might be interested in starting a USHL franchise. Huntington is about 5ish hours from both Youngstown and Ann Arbor, who will be in the league next year. I'd think it wouldn't work unless the league added a few more eastern teams to start their own division and cut down on travel.
It also raises the question of how much bigger can the league get? There's a couple issues to consider. There enough kids to fill eight teams at Fargo's tryout camp, and overall the level of play was pretty good, But I'm not sure there was much more than one team's worth of USHL caliber players there. More expansion probably means more teams having to take younger kids and the level of play dropping a bit. Second, one of the big selling points of the USHL is that pretty much every player ends up playing Division I hockey, with a few exceptions. More teams plus the same or fewer NCAA programs means that won't be the case as much. The third issue has to do with long-term viability. We're living in a bit of a hockey boom here in the US, as a result of the strong economy in the 90's, and NHL expansion into new areas. A few years down the road, you may start to see the effects of a rough economy and those southern expansion teams dying on the overall talent pool, and the league may not be able to so many teams.
There was a minor bit of controversy to come out of the NHL Combine because one NHL team alledgedly asked a player if he was gay.