USA Prospects Wow WNY

 Buffalo, NY hosted the top 2015 draft eligible Americans Thursday night.

Buffalo, NY hosted the top 2015 draft eligible Americans Thursday night.

It was an excellent night at the First Niagara Center as top U.S prospects demonstrated their talents in front of 7,000+ hockey faithful.  The game started slow but intensity picked up at a noticeable level from the beginning of the second period onward.  The clear cut #1 storyline was Mr. Jack Eichel and he did not disappoint one bit.  The Boston University commit had a beautiful goal halfway through the 3rd period to send his team up 4-2.  Eichel will be a stud and everyone knows it.  Let’s move on.

I was moderately surprised by the physicality level after the first period.  After a scoreless first, 9 goals were scored through an entertaining second and third session.  Team Grier won the game 6-3.  Although friends before and after the game, it was all business for the three periods.  I asked Providence commit Erik Foley what it was like to compete so hard against current teammates and great friends. 

 “It’s fun to go up against my buddies but at the same time I just want to compete and prove myself.”

My biggest takeaway of the night was the superior play of Jeremy Bracco.  Jeremy silenced many critics tonight as he scored two goals and set up numerous scoring opportunities.  Jeremy knew he had a lot to prove entering tonight.  “I’m not the prototypical 6’5’ guy. I have to go out there and prove myself every single night and I thought I did a nice job of that tonight.”

Bracco did not disappoint.  I spoke with a very knowledgeable hockey writer who told me Bracco has the best hands entering the 2015 draft.  The question around Bracco will always come down to his small stature.  After standing around many of the players postgame, I am not too worried about Bracco’s size concerns.  He has filled out to a solid 175lbs and will continue to add bulk. I was worried he would be smaller than his listed height but that was not the case as he is definitely 5’9.

4 lesser known prospects who impressed:

Jordan Greenway - 6’5 and 225 - This guy has nice skill to go with his size and will be a force alongside Jack Eichel at Boston University.

Karch Bachman – Improved his draft status tonight.  He had a goal and was often in on scoring chances. 

Erik Foley – Tough, gritty, smart player.  He had a beautiful pass from behind the net to set up a goal.  I interviewed him after the game and was impressed with how reflective he was.  Reminded me of Zemgus Girgensons.  Committed to Providence.

Steven Ruggiero – One of the guys I spoke with earlier in the week.  He logged  abunch of ice time and showed some lockdown defensive qualities.  Size is not an issue as he is a solid 6’3 200lbs.  He moved better than some expected.

This American draft class could potentially go down as being one of the best in recent memory.  Experienced hockey people such as Mike Grier and Eddy Olczyk raved about the talent of these guys and I am drinking the kool-aid.  The 2015 draft is something to start following now.