Five to watch at the All-American Prospects Game
Understandably, there’s a lot of excitement set to stem from the event, even though it is just a single-game showcase for those eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft.
But there’s no shortage of reasons to be excited — namely, some intriguing participants.
All 22 players from the United States Hockey League lineup are eligible for the 2021 draft, with 18 of the 21 National Team Development Program participants eligible as well.
Of the 40 players eligible for this year’s draft, 15 of them appear in FCHockey’s Winter ranking for the 2021 draft.
So whether you’re a draft enthusiast, a prospect aficionado, or a casual hockey fan, these five prospects are among those worth keeping front and center in the exhibition.
Peart, committed to St. Cloud State University, has shredded the high school circuit in Minnesota this season. He’s posted 11 goals and 35 points in just 18 games since returning to Grand Rapids High after a successful 18-game audition with the Fargo Force. Peart was also named recipient of the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award on Monday.
Keep an eye out for his ability to break the puck out of his own end and his ability to quarterback a power play.
“Before leaving the USHL to rejoin Grand Rapids High to finish out his high school career, Peart was tied for the USHL lead in assists and was the second leading point-producing defenseman in the league,” FCHockey regional scout Dylan Krill said. “Peart will catch your eyes in a number of ways, whether it be his quick and agile skating, his long-range stretch passing accuracy or just watching him think and process the game, making the efficient plays rather than the skilled play.”
Chaz Lucius, C, Team USA (USNTDP)
FCHockey’s 2021 NHL Draft ranking: 15
It’s been a tough year for Lucius to get on track, missing much of the season because of a lower-body injury. But he’s rebounded in a big way to say the least. Lucius, committed to the University of Minnesota, has 18 points (13 goals, five assists) in just 12 games since returning from injury and has solidified his status as a first round pick in the process.
Lucius is supremely confident with the puck on his stick and takes a shoot-first approach when navigating the offensive zone.
“Lucius has emerged as one of the top forwards in this year’s NTDP class, most likely the top forward, so the spotlight will be very bright on him in this game,” said Derek Neumeier, FCHockey’s head of video scouting. “He is dangerous in the offensive zone when he has the puck on his stick, though there are some issues with his skating and ability to create space for himself, making him a little tricky to project. After missing the start of the year due to injury this event will be a great opportunity to showcase himself and make a splash.”
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Matthew Knies, LW, Team USHL (Tri-City Storm)
FCHockey’s 2021 NHL Draft ranking: 48
Knies is entering the All-American Prospects Game as one of the USHL’s hottest players. He’s amassed 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past four games and currently sits at 22 assists and 32 points in 37 games with the Tai-City Storm this season.
The University of Minnesota commit is a standout at 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, but is better known as an offensive facilitator than a bruising, hulking forward.
“At the beginning of the year, Knies had high expectations coming off a point-per-game season in 2019-20,” Krill said. “Although his offense wasn’t great, he was still playing a strong two-way game, applying great pressure and intensity each shift. Knies has some of the best hands in the draft so keep an eye on some of the plays he has the ability to make. His vision and shot are both very effective, and he is now consistently getting rewarded with points.”
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Cole Sillinger, C, Team USHL (Sioux Falls Stampede)
FCHockey’s 2021 NHL Draft ranking: 19
Sillinger, who joined the Sioux Falls Stampede after a standout season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League last season, has shredded USHL competition this season. He has 22 goals and 42 points in just 29 games this season — fifth overall in the league with a 1.45 points-per-game mark.
The dual-citizen is one of the draft’s best pure goal scorers.
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Sasha Pastujov – Team USA (USNTDP)
FCHockey’s 2021 NHL Draft ranking: 50
Pastujov has been an offensive force for the National Team Development Program this season, amassing 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) against USHL competition this season. Pastujov, off to the University of Notre Dame next season, leads the NTDP in scoring with 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 34 games played.
It’ll be his offensive prowess that’s showcased in the All-American Prospects Game. Pastujov is a standout when he has the puck on his stick, both because of his vision and ability to navigate the offensive zone to create opportunities.
“You can expect a very eventful night for Pastujov, as he will be wanting to showcase his highly dangerous skill,” Krill said. “Pastujov is one of the best offensive players on the NTDP and has the ability to get you out of your seat with his highly skilled hands, vision and shot. Although his play with pace and skating is a concern, he has so much potential and will definitely be one of the main players to watch in this game, and moving closer to the draft.”
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