The USHL had its strongest-ever showing at the NHL Draft, as 57 players with USHL ties were selected at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, TX. The 57 players chosen set a new USHL record, shattering the previous mark of 51 set at the 2014 NHL Draft. 45 of those 57 players skated in the USHL during the 2017-18 season, also setting a league record, breaking the previous mark of 40 set last year at the 2017 NHL Draft. The USHL also led all junior leagues in the world with the 45 players who played in the league last season, at least 10 more than any other league in the world.
The 2018 NHL Draft marks the seventh consecutive year that 40 or more players that played in the USHL have been selected at the NHL Draft. In addition, 14 of the 17 USHL member clubs had at least one player selected who played in the nation's only Tier 1 junior hockey league, with 12 teams having multiple players chosen.Seven players with USHL ties were selected in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft on Friday, including Brady Tkachuk (Team USA), who was taken fourth overall by the Ottawa Senators. Other first round selections included Andrei Svechnikov (Muskegon Lumberjacks), Quinn Hughes (Team USA), Oliver Wahlstrom (Team USA), Joel Farabee (Team USA), Jay O'Brien (Youngstown Phantoms) and K'Andre Miller (Team USA).
The USHL had at least four players selected in every round of the 2018 NHL Draft, including 16 of the 31 picks in the fourth round and 37 total draftees through the first four rounds. 51 of the 57 USHL players chosen who were chosen are either committed to Division 1 college hockey or have already begun their college hockey careers.
The Youngstown Phantoms, co-owned by Black Bear Sports Group, had 5 players drafted, 3 of which played a full season last year and 2 that played partial.
In addition, 9 NAHL players were drafted over the weekend at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft including Washington Capitals 4th round selection, Mitchell Gibson. Gibson, a 6’1″ goalie from Phoenixville, PA, played for the Lone Star Brahmas during the 2017-18 season in the NAHL’s Southern Division and earned a commitment from Harvard University.
The NAHL offers elite junior hockey players (ages 17-20) the opportunity to develop, learn, train, grow and succeed, while playing for free. The North American Hockey League is unique in the fact that a vast majority of players begin their careers without an NCAA scholarship, but earn one through the course of their development in the league along with exposure to professional scouts.
During the 2016-17 season, the NAHL set a new single-season record with 305 NCAA commitments, with 70% of those being NCAA Division I commitments. In addition, 2 NAHL players that played in the league this past season were selected in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Over the course of the last five seasons, 1,200 NAHL players have made NCAA commitments and 17 have been drafted into the NHL.
The Maryland Black Bears will undergo their first season in the NAHL this September at Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, MD. The Black Bears will host their main camp July 26-29 at Rockville Ice Arena. The tryout will be open to the public.