The USHL will hold their Phase One Futures Draft for players born in 1999 tonight, beginning at 6pm Central Standard Time. There will be a live draft show shown on USHL.com, and you can follow along with the picks here.
Any player born in 1999 is eligible to be picked, though a handful of top players will likely be passed over due to already securing commitments to play elsewhere.
Twenty of the 22 players that will play for next season's NTDP U17 team have already been announced. Here were the first ten commitments to the program, and the second ten that were announced. It's possible a few of these players will get selected, especially if they're late-birthdates that might potentially play a year in the USHL between aging out of the program and playing NCAA hockey, but for the most part, those players will fall significantly or be passed over completely in tonight's draft.
There are also a number of talented players that have already signed agreements to play in the Canadian Hockey League, including top players like Ivan Lodnia, Sasha Chmelevski, Cole Coskey and Austin Pratt.
Finally, a handful of picks have already technically been made for this draft. The USHL allows teams to sign up to two players to tenders prior to the draft. A tendered player automatically earns a spot on that team's roster, and is guaranteed to dress in at least 55% of his team's games next season. In exchange for signing the tender, the USHL team gives up their first round pick for their first tender, and second round pick for their second tender.
Eight players have signed tenders for next season. Dubuque signed Baron Thompson and Joey Keane. Cedar Rapids signed Liam Walsh. Muskegon signed Graham Lillibridge. Omaha signed Brannon McManus. Sioux City signed Eeli Tolvanen. Waterloo signed Mikey Anderson. And Youngstown signed Jacob Tortora.
As for the players that will be drafted tonight, Jeff Cox looked at some of the top prospects available out of New England here and here. I wrote about some of the top prospects out of the Midwest here.
In addition, I'll make available my personal list of players I've seen this year that I think have a decent shot of being drafted again. There are two versions of it. The first includes every player, including those going to the NTDP/CHL, and the second is basically the same list, but with players unlikely to go to the USHL removed.
Best of luck to all the players eligible for today's draft. If nothing else, remember that tomorrow is only the starting point of a very long journey.