With the growing phenomenon of early recruiting, most elite players are already committed to a Division I college hockey program by the beginning of their senior season.
However, some programs strikeout on players who have a ton of promise as 14 or 15 year olds then fail to continue a positive development trajectory. Because of this, schools that wait can luck out with better players who develop later.
The following list is a ranking of 50 top uncommitted prospects from the United States born in 2000:
1. Jace Foskey, D, Tri-City Storm, 6/1/00, Right Shot, 6-2/189 - He was my sixth rated defenseman from last summer's USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp. His play there earned him an invite to the Five Nations Cup. He played in 50 USHL games with Tri-City this past season, scoring three goals and adding eight assists. A native of South Lake, Texas, he possesses a pro frame and the ability to play physically. His skating still needs improvement, but he closes well with a good stick, reach and a propensity to make smart reads on plays.
2. Michael Ferrandino, D, Waterloo Black Hawks, 3/17/00, Right Shot, 5-10/160 - Another blue liner who spent the entire past season in the USHL, the Lisle, Ill. native is a little undersized, but he's extremely reliable. He isn't flashy, but he is consistently steady in all three zones. He plays in control and with confidence. He makes good outlet passes with vision and a head for the game. He had nine assists in 47 games with Waterloo.
3. Ben Schultheis, D, Green Bay Gamblers, 2/17/00, Right Shot, 6-2/200 - He's a prototypical shutdown defensive defenseman with size. He has good reach and gaps well. He had a few strong showings when playing up with the NTDP and was consistently reliable with Honeybaked. While still not his strength, his skating has improved a lot over the past two years. The Tennessee native was picked by Green Bay in the 2016 USHL Phase I Draft, and he should make the team.
4. Keegan Karki, G, Omaha Lancers, 2/25/00, Catches Left, 6-4/218 - A former North Dakota commit, he was unceremoniously bounced from the NDTP. He looks as if he's found a home with the Lancers. He's a goalie with good size and should latch on with another college program, albeit one with less fanfare than the Fighting Hawks. His angles and size allow him to limit space for shooters to find the back of the net.
5. D.J. King, D, U.S. NTDP U-18, 8/7/00, Shoots Left, 6-3/222 - A converted forward, he's a hulking blue liner who plays with a mean streak. He's still adjusting to the pace of play in the USHL, but he has upside as a shutdown defender. He will never be offensively inclined. He's the son of former pro player Derek King and has dual citizenship. He was the only uncommitted skater on the NTDP U-17s this past season. The Hamilton Bulldogs own his OHL rights.
6. Caleb Everett, D, Muskegon Lumberjacks, 1/20/00, Right Shot, 6-2/175 - He's a big defender who skates well for his size. He is steady and solid in his own zone while not playing with a lot of flare. His game projects well to the next level. There are OHL rumors with the Lumberjacks affiliate.
7. Liam Gorman, F, St. Sebastian's, 5/8/00, Shoots Left, 6-3/192 - He's come a long way in a few months. In addition to adding size, he's gained explosiveness to his stride. Some scouts scrutinize his lack of scoring, but it will come. He plays a heavy game and isn't afraid to plant himself in front of the net. He drives the net and wins face-offs. He has a lot of upside. He's the son of former Princeton star Sean Gorman, a Boston Bruins pick in the 1987 NHL Draft. The Arlington, Mass. native is on the Chicago Steel's affiliate list.
8. Ryan O'Reilly, F, Madison Capitols, 3/21/00, Shoots Right, 6-0/185 - The former Nebraska Omaha commit has good size and has shown the ability to be a power forward, but he's struggled to continue his upward development trajectory over the past season. He could certainly gain it back and would be a nice pickup for a college program. When he's on his game, he is able to power his way into scoring areas and rip shots.
9. Blais Richartz, F, Tri-City Storm, 6/23/00, Shoots Left, 6-0/181 - He's a power forward with a good, heavy release. He uses his size to his advantage and plays well below the dots. The Wisconsin native finished the season with 11 games in the USHL after dominating midget hockey with Victory Honda.
10. Jackson Wozniak, F, Sioux City Musketeers, 2/22/00, Shoots Left, 5-9/172 - After a stellar season with Colorado Thunderbirds, he's expected to play in the USHL this upcoming season. He's not overly big, but he's fast and slippery. His craftiness and creativity make him a threat despite his lack of size. He's not just a small, quick forward who runs around. He plays the game with a purpose. He's originally from California.
11. Brehdan Engum, D, Burnsville HS, 8/10/00, Shoots Left, 6-1/192 - He has good size and can be a two-way defender moving forward. His vision, gaps and mobility are all good. Sioux Falls drafted him in the seventh round of the 2016 USHL Phase I Draft.
12. Ryan Ullan, G, Green Bay Gamblers, 7/29/00, Catches Left, 6-1/187 - His athleticism and quickness are both high end, but he has a tendency to give up soft goals and isn't as sound positionally or fundamentally. He was also a casualty of NTDP roster turnover and will be with Green Bay this upcoming season.
13. Michael Higgins, D, Omaha Lancers, 4/6/00, Shoots Right, 5-10/190 - A Boston Advantage product, he skated with the Lancers this past season. He's a tough defender who skates very well and does a good job in all three zones. It's tough for a 16 year-old to play in the USHL. If he was playing prep, he'd have stood out and there'd be a lot of buzz about him in the region.
14. Zach Faremouth, F, Muskegon Lumberjacks, 1/4/00, Shoots Right, 6-1/192 - He's a player who hasn't yet reached his full potential. The Muskegon Lumberjacks drafted him in the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft because of his size, skating and ability to play a heavy game. He could be the classic late bloomer that comes on as he continues to develop.
15. Brady Meyer, F, North Branch HS, 10/17/00, Shoots Left, 6-5/190 - He's a big winger who can move up and down the sheet. He produced huge numbers at an under the radar program in Minnesota high school hockey this past winter. The Bloomington Thunder liked what they saw and selected him in the fifth round of the USHL Phase II Draft.
16. Drew Cooper, D, Honeybaked 16U, 8/28/00, Shoots Left, 6-1/185 - He's not a flashy player and certainly not offensive-minded. He does possess good size and above average skating ability. He does a nice job getting his stick in lanes. He closes well and has good hockey IQ. He made a decent look from the right point on the power play. He's underrated and could be a nice late add for a program down the line.
17. Jack Babbage, D, Avon Old Farms, 8/30/00, Shoots Left, 6-0/170 - His athletic ability and physical tools intrigue several programs, but no coach has pulled the trigger yet. He has good size, strength and mobility on the blue line. His closing speed and reach are both above average. An affiliate of the Sioux City Musketeers, his hockey IQ is the one area of his game that he needs to improve going forward.
18. Gabriel Blanchard, D, Buffalo Regals, 9/15/00, Shoots Left, 5-11/175 - He's a little on the smaller side, but he has good mobility and defends with his feet. He gets in good position in his own zone and has a good stick. He skates well, can move the puck north and impact possession positively. Waterloo took him in the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft.
19. Kevin Wall, F, Salisbury, 2/1/01, Shoots Right, 6-0/176 - Another player who has the tools to be a Division I player, he's still working on putting it all together. When he plays a simple north-south game, he can be very effective. He has a good shot and has the skating ability and strength to penetrate and get into the slot for scoring chances. The Madison Capitols hold his USHL rights.
20. Christian Felton, D, Kimball Union, 2/4/00, Shoots Right, 5-11/160 - A Madison affiliate in the USHL, he'll be moving to prep hockey from the Skipjacks. His uncle is KUA coach and former Maine and UMass Lowell bench boss Tim Whitehead. The Ohio native developed nicely over the past two seasons. He's progressed into a physical blue liner who can skate well. He plays with a mean streak, gaps well and has a good stick.
21. Anthony Mastromonica, F, 5/23/00, Shoots Left, 6-2/190 - He's a big bodied winger who can get up and down the sheet. He has a hard shot and can get in on pucks. His skating has gotten better. He's an affiliate player of the Omaha Lancers.
22. Nolan Barrett, D, Selects Academy 18U, 7/26/00, Shoots Right, 6-1/175 - He's a mobile defender with good size who exudes athleticism. He is continuing to grow into the player he will be as he learns to pick his spots and play a more simple game. He retrieves pucks and can break pucks out of his own zone with his skating and breakout passes. He's on the Youngstown Phantoms' affiliate list.
23. Wyatt Schlaht, F, St. Sebastian's, 6/4/00, Shoots Left, 6-1/190 - He's battled injuries, but when he's healthy, he's a power forward with a heavy shot. He can bull his way down the left wing and has the ability to be heavy on pucks. He's strong on his skates. The Lincoln Stars picked him in the fourth round of the 2016 USHL Phase I Draft.
24. Dawson Klein, D, Lakeville South HS, 5/20/00, Shoots Right, 5-9/160 - The undersized defender was Omaha's third round pick in the 2016 USHL Phase I Draft. He's able to retrieve pucks and escape trouble with his feet. He defends with his feet and is able to keep the play to the outside with strong positioning and mobility.
25. Zach Borgiel, G, Muskegon Lumberjacks, 4/27/00, Catches Left, 6-0/209 - He was sometimes lost in the shuffle with Honeybaked 16U because of the attention received by '01 Mack Guzda. He skates well and has average size in the crease. He's athletic, has a good lower body and has quick reflexes.
26. Riley Hughes, F, St. Sebastian's, 6/27/00, Shoots Right, 6-1/151 - He's the son of NHLPA agent and Middlebury alum Kent Hughes. He's a good skater who looks the part and has all the physical tools. He's still putting it all together, but he has a good shot and can be dominant at times. He needs to learn to play more in the scoring areas and out of his comfort zone, but he has upside.
27. Ben Badalamenti, F, Honeybaked 16U, 2/6/00, Shoots Right, 6-0/180 - He skates well, has good speed and gets to pucks quickly. He is gritty and projects as a penalty killing specialist, a third or fourth liner who can chip in offensively and play with energy. He had a nice showing at USA Hockey Nationals. Lincoln took him late in Phase II.
28. Jagger Benson, D, Malden Catholic, 10/23/00, Shoots Right, 6-2/155 - He's a raw, lanky talent with terrific skating ability and overall athleticism. His mobility and the way he can move the puck up ice and maintain possession are game changers. He still has to learn how to play in his own zone, but he has a lot of upside. He comes from good genes and his dad is a Merrimack alum.
29. Jon Mor, G, U.S. NTDP U-18, 7/20/00, Catches Left, 6-3/198 - A product of the Chicago Young Americans, he was called up to fill in for the NTDP and earned a spot for the upcoming season.
30. Xander Lamppa, F, Rochester HS, 4/30/00, Shoots Left, 6-0/175 - He's a big power forward who has above average feet for his size. He can win battles and distribute the puck from the wall and below the goal line. He scores garbage goals. He's flown under the radar, but he should be a player to watch in the coming years.
31. Declan Carlile, D, Culver 16U, 5/18/00, Shoots Left, 6-1/185 - He's a good-sized defender who can jump into the offense. His mobility and vision are both above average. He has a good stick and is a late bloomer who could rise further.
32. Zach Dubinsky, F, Minnesota Magicians, 3/14/00, Shoots Left, 5-9/181 - He's small, but quick and plays with energy. He has a pretty good shot and does a lot of the little things. He projects as more of a penalty killing, bottom six role at the college level.
33. Christian Berger, D, Madison Capitols, 5/22/00, Shoots Left, 5-11/150 - He's a good skater who can move the puck up ice with his feet or with his vision on outlet passes. He has a good stick and thinks the game well with the puck on his stick.
34. Tristan Amonte, F, Thayer Academy, 2/2/00, Shoots Right, 5-7/150 - He might not be one of the 30 best uncommitted players in the U.S. right now, but he could get there. His brother, '98 BU commit Ty Amonte, developed late and Tristan showed some signs of picking up his game this year. He's shifty and does a good job facilitating scoring chances for his teammates. He gets to pucks quickly and thinks the game well offensively.
35. Nick Seitz, F, North Jersey Avs 16U, Shoots Left, 6-0/165 - He has good size and does a nice job using it and his speed to win battles for pucks in the corner and down low. He's a good passer. He does a good job thinking the game offensively and finding seams. He drives the net and gets quite a few garbage goals off rebounds and other loose pucks.
36. Phillipe LaPointe, F, Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep, 2/29/00, Shoots Right, 5-11/180 - He has good speed, hands and feet to go along with his rugged frame and can muck it up along the wall. He's the son of Detroit Red Wings legend Martin LaPointe.
37. Drake Usher, D, Anaheim Jr. Ducks, 4/29/00, Shoots Left, 6-0/150 - He's still a little bit of an unknown out of California, but he had a steady and solid Select 16 performance last summer. He was drafted late in Phase II of the USHL Draft by Youngstown.
38. Luke Krys, D, Salisbury School, 9/27/00, Shoots Right, 5-11/150 - He's not an elite prospect like his older brother Chad, a Chicago pick and BU defenseman, but he is smooth. He's a good skater, plays well defensively and has a good stick. He's learned to defend with his feet and has a mean streak.
39. Cam Gaudette, D, Boston Advantage, 6/1/00, Shoots Left, 6-0/160 - He's a good skater who can activate and play a physical game. He's good in his own zone and exudes confidence on the ice.
40. Matthew Weber, F, Pittsburgh Penguins 16U, 3/17/00, Shoots Right, 5-10/161 - He's a good skater who plays with authority. He can make power moves into the zone and drive the net. He has a hard wrist shot. He had the puck a lot and gets shots off. He wins races and battles for loose pucks and does a good job distributing it to open teammates from the walls. He needs to be more consistent using his size.
41. Andrew Remer, F, Honeybaked 16U, 8/2/00, Shoots Left, 5-11/175 - He doesn't have a ton of offensive upside, but he's quick and plays an honest game in all 200 feet of the ice. He's a good penalty killer and has the grit to create energy and forecheck with a purpose. He could be a nice third or fourth liner as an older freshman.
42. Brayden Patricia, F, Jersey Hitmen, 6/5/00, Shoots Right, 5-11/165 - He plays a heavy game and hits hard. He's not offensively gifted, but he can score by reading plays and being persistent. He's an OHL pick of Kitchener.
43. Adam Robbins, F, North Jersey Avs 16U, 4/12/00, Shoots Right, 5-8/161 - He's small and plays with good pace. Can his game translate to the next level is the question, but his vision and shiftiness are notable. He is a Chicago Steel affiliate.
44. Zach Lindewirth, F, New Jersey Rockets 16U, 1/3/00, Shoots Right, 5-9/150 - He has above average speed and hands and was impressive at the USPHL All-Star Game. He can get to pucks and create chances. He showed the ability to finish. Look for him to be picked up in the NAHL Draft.
45. Hunter McCoy, F, Islanders HC, 8/1/00, Shoots Left, 5-11/180 - He's moving from prep hockey to the USPHL NCDC if all goes according to plan. He's a good skater with an explosive stride. He can get to pucks and he makes really good passes to facilitate offense. He still needs to work on his shot.
46. Nick Castro, F, LA Jr. Kings, 3/21/00, Shoots Left, 5-7/150 - He's small, but has some offensive skill. He's patient and can slow the game down and not just play at one pace. The Californian is a Dubuque Fighting Saints affiliate and Everett owns his WHL rights.
47. Hunter Brackett, F, Tabor Academy, 11/27/00, Shoots Left, 5-11/182 - He competes hard, plays with an edge and he scored a few goals. He has a good stick and isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas. He had a really good weekend at Massachusetts Final 40, earning him a spot at National Camp. He's on Bloomington's affiliate list.
48. Parker Ford, F, Selects Academy 16U, 7/20/00, Shoots Right, 5-7/157 - He's really small, but he's quick, never stops moving his feet and is fun to watch. He creates chances with his motor and vision. Sioux City took him in the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft.
49. Luke Aquaro, F, Philadelphia Revolution, 8/3/00, Shoots Right, 5-10/150 - He's a little bit of a wildcard playing in the EHL Elite, but he should be picked up in the NAHL Draft. He has good vision and is good away from the puck. He produced a lot of offense this year.
50. Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, F, Moses Brown, 9/16/00, Shoots Left, 5-10/170 - He's a fun player to watch if nothing else, but he could fit well into a program looking for a high energy player. He's quick, gritty and a pest to play against. He finds the score sheet and will once again be at NPDC in Amherst, N.Y.