SportsPulse: USA TODAY’s hockey insider Kevin Allen details the story lines that you should pay attention to this season.
USA TODAY Sports
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sorting this season’s American-born NHL draft prospects is like following a trail at ancestor.com.
Ten of the top potential draftees for the 2018 draft at Thursday’s CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game are sons of former NHL players, and two other potential first-rounders have pro hockey in their backgrounds.
“Their advantage is they have been prepared for pressure,” said Dan Marr, the NHL’s director of Central Scouting. “They have a leg up because their dads have taught them not to take their jobs for granted. They have perspective.”
Heading the U.S. list is Boston University left wing Brady Tkachuk, whose father Keith scored 538 NHL goals. Brady, 18, is also the younger brother of 19-year-old Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, who had 48 points as a rookie last season.
Marr measured Brady before the prospects game and discovered he had grown from 6-2 to 6-3-¼ over the past year. That’s noteworthy for a player who will carry on the family tradition of playing a rugged power game.
Russian right wing Andrei Svechnikov and Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin are leading candidates to go No. 1 overall, but Marr said Tkachuk has the ability “to get into that conversation.”
Here are the other All-American Game prospects with NHL bloodlines:
Defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (U.S. National Under-18 Team): TSN draft analyst Craig Button, a former Calgary Flames general manager, says Samuelsson “definitely has a chance to get into the first round.”
He’s the son of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson, who played 813 games for the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kjell was 6-6, and his son Mattias is 6-4 and is a better skater. “He might be a Brady Skjei type,” Button said.
Forward Philippe Lapointe (Lincoln Stars, USHL): He launched his youth career in the Chicago area when his father Marty was playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. Marty is probably remembered most for providing both grit and goals to help the Detroit Red Wings win back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998.