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Posted By: Robin Williamson on 11/27/2015
My name is Robin Williamson and I'll be covering USHL prospects for the NHL Draft at Draft Utopia. Grace Mothersole did an awesome job in her last piece, but with her focusing on NHL content, I'll be managing the USHL NHL Draft content at Draft Utopia. I have previous scouting experience with the Kingston Frotenacs and the Fargo Force as a scout, so I'll be making keen observations about of a lot of USHL prospects.
There are 52 USHL skaters that are projected t get drafted in the 7 rounds of the 2016 NHL Draft. I doubt all 52 guys get drafted, but those 52 players in particular are the best USHL prospects in the United States Hockey League.
Only 3 of those players received first round grades and all 3 of those players are 2 year projects that will likely need time in College or the CHL before going pro assuming any of these three skaters enter the 2016 CHL Import Draft after being drafted by an NHL team in June. These three skaters on USA's Under 18 Team are center Clayton Keller, left winger Keiffer Bellows, and defenseman Chad Krys.
Clayton Keller now has 4 goals, 7 assists, and 11 points in the USHL after getting an assist in a 3-1 win over the Youngstown Phantoms. Keller has tremendous speed and gliding on the ice. He also has 11 goals, 18 assists, and 29 points on the Under 18 team as Grace pointed out on Thursday. What she didn't mention is that the 5-10 170 lb skater is excellent at playing defense when covering opposing centers and that he's a natural at winning face offs. Keller reminds me of a young Dylan Larkin with his natural playmaking ability.
Clayton Keller is the top USHL prospect at the moment, but his teammate Keiffer Bellows may have something to say about that. Grace called Bellows a top 20 pick.
"Both Bellows and Keller should be top 20 picks. Bellows led the Sioux Falls Stampede to the 2015 USHL Championship game at center in 2014-2015. He's struggled a bit in 2015-2016 at center with winning face offs on the top line after dominating last season and has moved over from center to left wing."
Those were Grace's words. I think Bellows is a top 15 pick. He's a special kid with the versatility to play anywhere at forward at left wing, center, or right wing. Being 6-1 194 lbs also helps. Bellows had 33 goals, 19 assists, and 53 points in 2014-2015 on the Sioux Falls Stampede. He currently has 6 goals, 4 assists, and 10 points on the USHL roster, but also has 15 goals, 7 assists, and 22 points on Team USA's Under 18 team outside of the United States National Team Developmental Program's main roster.
Bellows has excellent slap shot power along with the smooth precise accuracy when it comes to having the proper slap shot accuracy and wrist shot accuracy to play in the NHL. At the same time, I'd like to see Bellows improve his shooting power on wrist shots. Bellows has excellent awareness on both ends on offense at defense. He's a natural shot blocker when it comes to defending shots with his stick.
Having 1 goal and 1 assist against the Youngstown Phantoms on Friday showed that he can be a playmaker. For some reason Bellows seems to dominate against the Phantoms whether it is in the regular season on Team USA or the 2015 USHL Playoffs where the Stampede upset a heavily favored Phantoms team last year.
There are a lot of great qualities about Bellows and it's hard to see him not going in the top half of the 2016 NHL Draft especially when you consider his production. My issue with Bellows is that he needs to improve his wrist shot power and learn to win face offs.
There is no question that Bellows can succeed as a sniper on the wing at left wing or right wing in the NHL. At the same time, he needs to improve his wrist shot power and improve his ability to win face offs in the NHL. Bellows may have the versatility to play any forward position, but his weakness with face offs and the fact that he's more of a sniper than a playmaker leads me to believe that Bellows will play the wing in the NHL. Bellows is this years version of Kyle Connor and the furthest I could see him slip is to 17 which is where Connor fell to in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
The final prospect is Chad Krys. The 5-11 183 lb Krys is a quarterback on the power play as he had 4 goals, 22 assists, and 26 points in 2014-2015 on Team USA's main USHL roster in 35 games. Krys also had 26 assists on the United States National Team Developmental Program Under 17 team along with 17 assists on the Under 18 Team.
Krys has 6 assists on the USHL team in 2015-2016. Krys already has 12 assists on the United States National Team Developmental Program in 13 games this season. There's no question that Krys is an offensive defenseman. Krys has tremendous shot blocking and awareness on both offense and defense much like his Team USA teammates Keller and Bellows.
Krys struggles to unlesh body checks and slamming forwards into the boards on defense. Most physical defensemen have at least 10 penalty minutes or more. Krys is not physical enough due to his lack of size and that makes him a late first round pick unlike his teammates, Keller and Bellows who will both go in the top 15.
Keller, Bellows, and Krys will continue to build chemistry together at Boston University as all 3 teammates in the USHL are committed there for 2016-2017. I think the emergence of Jack Eichel has inspired a lot of kids on Team USA to go to Boston University and with all the recruits they are getting from the NHL Draft, Boston University will win another Championship at some point..
I will have more updates on the United States National Team Devleopmental Program at some point in the near future. For now read up on the 3 first round USHL prospects on Team USA for the upcoming 2016 NHL Draft and if you have different scouting reports on these prospects, I'd love to hear your feedback.
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