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CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game Preview

Ryan Fitzgerald was named MVP of the 2012 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.
Ryan Fitzgerald was named MVP of the 2012 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Buffalo, NY -- While this year's CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game won't have the fanfare of the last without a Jack Eichel, there is plenty of intrigue heading into Thursday's game at the First Niagara Center on NHL Network.

This year's game will feature players born between September 16, 1997 and September 15, 1998. The majority of the 42 players come from the US National Team Development Program, but several are from other USHL teams, NCAA or major junior teams.

Thursday's game will begin at 7 p.m. ET and be broadcast on NHL Network. The 40 players selected have been broken down into two different teams. One team will be coached by Jeremy Roenick while the other will be guided by Derek Plante.

Last year's game featured Eichel, the Boston University star who ended up going No. 2 overall to the Buffalo Sabres. Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin and Michigan defenseman Zach Werenski were other participants in the game who went in the top 10 of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Quick Facts

  • 26 of the 42 players are verbally committed to play college hockey.
  • Forwards Luke Kunin (Wisconsin) and Tage Thompson (UConn) along with defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Boston University) are only three players on a college hockey roster for the 2015-16 season.
  • J.D. Greenway is the only uncommitted player.
  • There are 12 major junior players, 11 of whom compete in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Goaltender Evan Sarthou is from the Western Hockey League (WHL).
  • Michigan is the most represented state in the game with 11 players from the Great Lake State. Minnesota is next with 8 followed by seven players hailing from New York.
  • Illinois (4), Missouri (3), Florida (2) and Massachusetts (2) are other states with multiple players.
  • Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington all have one player.
  • Michigan (4), Minnesota (4), Boston University (3), Boston College (3), Western Michigan (2), Minnesota Duluth (2) are schools with multiple commits in the game.
  • Cornell, Harvard, Miami, Michigan State, Northeastern, North Dakota, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are also represented.
  • Unlike last year, there are no high school or prep school players in the game.
  • 11 players have fathers who played college hockey while five have brothers who played or are currently playing at the NCAA level.
  • Luke McInnis is the only player in the game whose father is currently on the coaching staff at a Division I school. His father Marty, a BC alum and retired NHLer, is a volunteer assistant for Jerry York's Eagles, where the younger McInnis is committed.
  • Two players are related to former players in the game. J.D. Greenway's brother Jordan played in last year's game while Matt Tkachuk's cousins Casey and Ryan played in previous versions of the event.
  • 22 of the 42 players in Thursday's game appeared on the initial NHL Central Scouting Futures List, which projects players who could potentially be selected in the first three rounds of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Team Plante Roster

#1 Evan Sarthou, Goaltender, Black Diamond, Wash., Tri-City Americans (WHL)

#2 Alex Green, Right Defense, Chicago, Ill., Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) - He's a smooth defenseman with a good initial pivot. He has a nice stride, a good active stick and is solid on gaps. Not known for stepping into the offense, he has good footwork and does well in showcase type events. College Commitment: Cornell

#3 Mitch Eliot, Right Defense, Grosse Pointe, Mich., Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) - There wasn't a better blue liner at this summer's USA Hockey Select 17 Festival. He doesn't have overwhelming size, but he's just really solid. He's smart and fundamentally sound. He forces defensemen wide, is a smooth skater, has good footwork and rarely gets beat. College Commitment: Michigan State

#4 Charlie McAvoy, Right Defense, Long Beach, NY, Boston University (Hockey East) - The Terrier freshman is a smooth-skating, puck-moving blue liner that is expected to go in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He makes very strong and accurate lead passes in transition and can really quarterback a power play. A late '97, he's certainly not suspect defensively, but he's a little inconsistent.

#5 Luke McInnis, Left Defense, Hingham, Mass., Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) - There might not be a better skater with more raw athletic ability among defensemen in tonight's game. He can absolutely wheel and deal with the puck on his stick. Some scouts question his decision-making on how often he pinches, but he's a very gifted player. He'll need to reel it in some, but the son of former NHLer and BC alum Marty McInnis is a true athlete. College Commitment: Boston College

#6 Derek Daschke, Left Defense, Troy, Mich., Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) - He was one of the best defensemen at Select 16s, but had an up-and-down first year in the USHL and was just good at Select 17s. His size and physical tools are undeniable. He has good footwork, he's very poised and has an active stick. He's a good passer  who makes nice looks in transition. His skating is just OK. College Commitment: Western Michigan

#7 J.D. Greenway, Left Defense, Potsdam, NY, US National Under-18 Team - The only uncommitted player in the game, he's a defenseman with good size. He's not overly physical, but he's solid. He's more of a shutdown type, but he can make some good lead passes. He needs to become more consistent.

#8 Ryan Lindgren, Left Defense, Minneapolis, Minn., US National Under-18 Team - He's a good skater who showed some signs in this observer's only two viewings - last weekend at USHL Pittsburgh Showcase. His brother Charlie is a junior goaltender for St. Cloud State and his father Bob played at Michigan. College Commitment: Minnesota

#9 Kieffer Bellows, Left Wing, Edina, Minn., US National Under-18 Team - He's had unbelievable chemistry with teammate and fellow Terrier recruit Clayton Keller. One coach told this observer last weekend in Pittsburgh that he thinks the former Edina and Sioux Falls star has one of the best shots he's seen. He has a quick release that gets on net real quick. For a scorer, he's not afraid to throw his weight around.  He's hard to knock off the puck. His father Brian had a lengthy NHL career with the Minnesota North Stars, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning.  College Commitment: Boston University

#10 Max Jones, Left Wing, Rochester, Minn., London Knights (OHL) - The son of former Michigan Wolverine and NHLer Brad, he bolted the NTDP program for major junior this season.

#11 Garrett Wait, Left Wing, Edina, Minn., Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) - He's an economical player that isn't all that flashy, but he's smart. He has good hands and can make some nice moves. He is in the right place at the right time a lot and anticipates plays well. He tends to take some shifts off so NHL scouts will look for more consistency. College Commitment: Minnesota

#12 Keenan Suthers, Left Wing, Macomb, Mich., US National Under-18 Team - He had a monster Select 16s last summer which helped him land a spot with the NTDP. Overall, he's a big, hulking winger who projects as more of a third or fourth liner. In Pittsburgh last weekend, his skating appeared awkward and he was unable to his his size to his advantage. College Commitment: Western Michigan

#14 Clayton Keller, Left Center, Swansea, Ill., US National Under-18 Team - His passing skills, especially to NTDP linemate Bellows, are a thing of beauty. He's been a human highlight reel machine. He's not the fastest skater and it wouldn't be too unfair to compare him somewhat to BC freshman and Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Jeremy Bracco. College Commitment: Boston University

#16 Trent Frederick, Left Center, St. Louis, Mo., US National Under-18 Team - In Pittsburgh he did a nice job going to the net. He's not the most skilled player, but he knows his spot. He camps out in front of the net. He had a nice tip-in goal. College Commitment: Wisconsin

#17 Drake Rymsha, Right Center, Huntington Woods, Mich., London Knights (OHL) - He's one of those players that sneaks up on observers. He's not really a showcase type player. He's just a good, solid hockey player. His father Andrew played at Western Michigan and his brother River is a sophomore at Dartmouth.

#18 Alex DeBrincat, Right Wing, Farmington Hills, Mich., Erie Otters (OHL) - The former UMass commit is best known for being the linemate and offensive beneficiary of 2015 No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid.

#19 Willie Knierim, Right Wing, Skokie, Ill., Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) - He looked like a man amongst boys at times at Select 17s. He skates well for a guy his size, but he does a real good job once he picks up momentum. College Commitment: Miami

#20 Tage Thompson, Right Wing, Oyster Bay, NY, UConn (Hockey East) - He's a physical specimen who has good footwork and above average hands for a guy his size. He's a decent skater and wins face-offs. He's the son of Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) head coach Brent Thompson. His younger brother Tyce, a '99, is a Providence recruit.

#21 Matt Filipe, Right Wing, Lynnfield, Mass., Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) - He's a player who should prosper in juniors this year. At times he seemed disinterested against obviously inferior talent in Massachusetts high school hockey last winter. He has a powerful stride and is at his best when he's driving the net. He's a left shot who projects more as a left wing, but he played center in high school where his team won two Super 8 titles. His father Paul played hockey at Northeastern. College Commitment: Northeastern

#22 Logan Brown, Left Center, Raleigh, NC, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

#30 Ryan Edquist, Goaltender, Lakeville, Minn., Madison Capitols (USHL) - He possesses very good physical tools. He's sound positionally and is athletic in the crease. He squares up to shooters and can get hot and really carry a team on his back. He needs to guard against the occasional soft goal. College Commitment: Minnesota

Team Roenick Roster

#1 Tyler Parsons, Goaltender, Chesterfield, Mich., London Knights (OHL)

#2 Chad Krys, Left Defense, Ridgefield, Conn., US National Under-18 Team - He's a tremendous skater with the ability to make a huge impact in breaking the puck out of the zone and on the power play. He's so agile and his mobility is top notch. He has a good stick and is decent defensively. His father Mark played at BU and his brother Luke is a solid '00 prospect. College Commitment: Boston University

#3 Griffin Luce, Left Defense, Williamsville, NY, US National Under-18 Team - He's a player who might have peeked a little early. He's hot and cold. He can be a dynamic shutdown defender in some viewings and then look a little lost in other games. He's big with a good reach, but he's not the best of skaters. One scout described him as "hit or miss" last weekend in Pittsburgh. College Commitment: Michigan

#4 Michael Campoli, Left Defense, Ann Arbor, Mich., US National Under-18 Team - He's a dual Canadian citizen from Quebec. He's just steady and solid without making mistakes. He's a smooth skater. College Commitment: Boston College

#5 Sam Rossini, Left Defense, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) - He's very good in transition and has good size.  He's a solid skater with a nice sturdy frame. He cuts well and also skates well going backwards. He's confident and makes nice lead and breakout passes. He keeps opposing forwards to the perimeter.  College Commitment: Minnesota

#6 Adam Fox, Right Defense, Jericho, NY, US National Under-18 Team - He's a very good skater, who makes real nice cuts on his edges. He has good vision, gets shots on net from the point and is a defenseman with offensive upside. He could benefit from putting some extra weight on his frame. College Commitment: Harvard

#7 Andrew Peeke, Right Defense, Parkland, Fla., Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) - He's a steady blue liner with a good first pivot and an active stick. He always has his head up in transition. He keeps it fairly simple most of the time, but needs to be careful not to over-commit. College Commitment: Notre Dame

#8 Ben Gleason, Right Defense, Ortonville, Mich., London Knights (OHL) - He's a little flat-footed at times, but he's a strong, solid blue liner who made the Ivan Hlinka roster after impressing USA Hockey brass at Select 17s.

#9 James Sanchez, Right Wing, Northbrook, Ill., US National Under-18 Team - In Pittsburgh he was tough and willing to go into the dirty areas. College Commitment: Michigan

#10 Graham McPhee, Right Wing, Bethesda, Md., US National Under-18 Team - He really stood out at the USHL Pittsburgh Showcase. He has high hockey IQ and is very good away from the puck. He has a strong puck pursuit and is an excellent skater. His father George was the 1982 Hobey Baker Award winner at Bowling Green. College Commitment: Boston College

#11 Will Lockwood, Right Wing, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., US National Under-18 Team - He played on a line with Bellows and Keller in Pittsburgh and played his role well. He's a good skater who drove the net and did some of the mucking and grinding for the more skilled linemates. College Commitment: Michigan

#12 Joey Anderson, Right Wing, Roseville, Minn., US National Under-18 Team - The former Hill-Murray star has some offensive skill, but is quick and does a nice job on the forecheck. College Commitment: Minnesota Duluth

#14 Jack Kopacka, Left Wing, Lapeer, Mich., Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) - He was dominant at Select 17s. He's a power forward who can finish. He's strong on pucks, has good closing speed and has a heavy, quick release. He's a bull going through traffic, but his initial stride needs work.

#16 Riley Tufte, Left Wing, Ham Lake, Minn., Fargo Force (USHL) - He was also really good at Select 17s. He can draw defenders to him which opens up time and space for teammates. He has a nice, long reach. He has decent speed for a big guy. He has good hands for a big guy and has a presence in the offensive zone. College Commitment: Minnesota Duluth

#17 Matthew Tkachuk, Left Wing, St. Louis, Mo., London Knights (OHL) - The son of Keith Tkachuk was originally committed to Notre Dame, but bolted for major juniors. His younger brother Brady, a '99 on the NTDP U-17 Team, is a BU commit.

#18 Luke Kunin, Right Center, Chesterfield, Mo., Wisconsin (Big Ten) - The Badgers freshman has developed a nice goal scoring touch. The '97 was captain of the US NTDP U-18 Team last season.

#19 Nick Pastujov, Left Center, Bradenton, Fla., US National Under-18 Team - A dual-citizen, he and his younger brother both play for the NTDP and are committed to the Wolverines. He didn't do much in Pittsburgh, but he has the ability to be a high-end offensive talent. College Commitment: Michigan

#20 Mitchell Mattson, Left Center, Grand Rapids, Minn., Bloomington Thunder (USHL) - He took a little while to adjust at Select 17s, but he's a big center who skates well. His foot speed could improve. He doesn't lose many battles and has a good reach. College Commitment: North Dakota

#21 Luke Kirwan, Left Center, Dewitt, NY, Windsor Spitfires (OHL) - The oldest player in this game, he played for the NTDP before opting for major juniors. He missed out on the past draft by just eight days.

#22 Timmy Gettinger, Left Wing, North Olmsted, Ohio, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) - He has a big frame and is a decent skater for his size, but needs to improve on his foot speed. He has a long reach and wins battles, but could make quicker decisions. He has the ability to take over a game with his size and strength. He has a real heavy shot and cycles well.

#30 Stephen Dhillon, Goaltender, Buffalo, NY, Niagara IceDogs (OHL) - The former Buffalo Regals 16U star is a big goaltender who takes up a lot of the net, squares up to shooters and is calm in the crease.

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Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.