One year ago, the Tri-State area enjoyed real success in the NHL Entry Draft’s first round.
Tyler Boucher (Haddonfield, N.J.) was drafted 10th overall by the Ottawa Senators, leading off with an earlier-than-expected selection. Matt Coronato (Huntington, N.Y.) went three spots later to the Calgary Flames, followed by Mackie Samoskevich (Newtown, Conn.), who went 24th overall to the Florida Panthers.
This year’s regional draft class will be challenged to replicate that level of success, however. The pool is shallower and likely won’t receive recognition until the second or third rounds. Leading the potential draftees are a pair of USA Hockey’s NTDP U-18 team members — forward Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.), and defenseman Charlie Leddy (Fairfield, Conn.). Kaplan is a Boston University commit, while Leddy is a future Boston College blueliner.
The list of possible picks contains many second-year draft-eligible players, including Tri-City Storm forward Jeremy Wilmer (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) and Green Bay Gamblers defenseman Damien Carfagna (Woodridge, N.J.). Both players are producing at impressive rates and earning the respect of NHL scouts.
Perhaps the most intriguing component of this list is the number of players whose upsides are going unrecognized due to playing limited roles in the USHL this year. Youngsters such as Gamblers forward Nicholas Vantassel of Basking Ridge, N.J., and Chicago Steel winger Mikey Emerson (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) are doing their best to contribute with limited ice time. Still, they deserve consideration for selection in July.