Prospects for the USHL Phase 1 Draft

Some of the top prospects for next week's USHL draft

With the USHL Phase 1 Draft taking place next week, I wrote up some of the top prospects available for teams to select. For subscribers, click here to see an extended ranking of 50+ prospects with a list of about 100 additional prospects considered as well. I also wrote about the draft and other related topics in today’s column.

Tristan Luneau — Trois-Rivières (QC) — Wisconsin

One of many highly-touted Badger recruits, Luneau is a top-end prospect on defense who was one of the youngest players in the Quebec Midget AAA loop last year and built on that to take his game forward another level this year. Playing against older competition for two seasons has matured Luneau’s game so as to make him one of the only prospects still available for the draft with the potential to help a team immediately this fall. A strong athlete with great ability, poise, decision-making and ultimately pro potential. The question is whether or not Luneau would ever report to the USHL — the QMJHL will clearly be calling his name and there are a number of Canadian junior A circuits that he could thrive in as well. The fact that he hasn’t been tendered makes it seem like he won’t end up in the league, but you never know — if there was ever a player to tender it would be Luneau.

Nathan Lewis — Oakland Jr. Grizzlies (MI) 15s

Lewis is a forward with great size who moves well and has a really nice ceiling, especially offensively. He posted over one hundred points this season playing for a loaded #6-ranked Oakland Jr. Grizzlies team. Lewis is one forward still available for this draft who could put it all together and realize a glaring pro upside over the next few years.

Camron VanSickle — Honeybaked (MI) 15s — Denver

One of many well-regarded recruits in the Pioneers’ pipeline, VanSickle is another of the talented prospects playing in Michigan this past year, though that isn’t his hometown. The 6’1 forward looks to be one of the best players to come out of Alaska in recent years and is one of the few prospects who could add something to a team’s offense in this league soon. Honeybaked was the top-ranked team in the country and has a lot of players who will likely be drafted next week.

Mike Stenberg — Thayer (MA-Prep) — Penn State

Stenberg, a late-2004 (2023 NHL draft), was one of the youngest players in prep hockey this season, but he didn’t look it. A big bodied forward with a nice ceiling, Stenberg wasn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone this season and scored eighteen goals on the year after a great fall playing ‘up’ with the Cape Cod Whalers 16s. His 41 points were second on the Tigers, just behind a top Northeastern recruit in ‘02 Sasha Teleguine.

Andon Cerbone — Brunswick (CT-Prep)

The amount of talent that Brunswick lost in the 2019 off-season presented an opportunity for Cerbone, who bided his time as a freshman on a deep roster before exploding as a sophomore this year. The cerebral talent at forward posted well over a point-per-game this season (47) after cutting his teeth playing ‘up’ in fall hockey for Mid-Fairfield’s 16s. In the end, Cerbone’s efforts were rewarded with an invite to the NTDP camp — a camp that never took place due to the Coronavirus. The NTDP’s loss will be some USHL team’s gain: while Cerbone may not play in the league this coming season, on his current trajectory he looks like he could be an important player for any team whenever he does arrive.

Jimmy Clark — Edina (MN)

It’s rare for one of the top high school hockey programs in the country to roster a freshman, but when they do, the freshman is usually pretty good. Clark, a late-2004 born 5’11 forward was one of Edina’s top scorers and looks poised to take the reins next season as they look to return to state title-winning form. What will impact his draft stock is whether he’d be willing to leave a strong program that has welcomed him with open arms. With three more years in his high school career to go, Clark may be ready to go straight to college when the time comes.

Colby Woogk — Dallas Stars Elite (TX) 16

Woogk looks to be following in the footsteps of another big defender who played ‘up’ for Texas’s top amateur program a few years ago — future Florida Panther Max Gildon — as Woogk plays a mature, engaged brand of hockey with some ability to handle the puck and get the job done offensively. His game appeals to junior hockey scouts as it should complement the highly mobile, fourth-forward type of defenseman that is now in vogue.

Tristan Sarsland — Benilde-St. Margaret’s (MN) — Colorado College

With two seasons of high school hockey under his belt, Sarsland is one of many CC recruits within Minnesota who could be a good player in the USHL before long. A right shot defenseman with good size at 6’0 and mobility, the future Tiger posted 13 points in 24 games this winter.

Quinn Finley — Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers (WI) 15s

Along with fellow Wisconsin native Braydon Beahm, Finley lit up Minnesota’s Bantam Elite League, earning league MVP honors for himself. That was before spending the season with the Jr Gamblers 15 team with many of the other top 2004s from the state. He could be especially appealing for a team like Madison, with the in-state connection and his potential to boost a franchise’s offense within a few seasons.

Trey Ausmus — East Grand Forks HS (ND) — North Dakota

The younger brother of UND captain Gage Ausmus breaks the mold for his family, one that has produced a couple of great blue liners already. Gage was a big, shut-down force on the back-end who made the NTDP and won a national title in that defensive role, while Tye was a star for East Grand Forks high school who was smaller and more of a puck-rushing type. Trey already has some of Gage’s size at 5’11 but more of Tye’s offense, as he’s already produced at nearly a point-per-game pace through 57 career games. I’d be surprised to see him finish his high school career, but even if the rising junior plays one more season he could eventually come to the USHL ready to do some damage at both ends of the sheet.

Lukas Klemm — North Jersey Avalanche (NJ) 16s

Klemm, a big right-shot defenseman who split the season between playing ‘up’ for the North Jersey Avalanche’s #3-ranked 16 team and high school hockey with Don Bosco Prep, looks to have a good ceiling at both ends of the sheet. He can make poised, resourceful plays with the puck and projects nicely as a defender as well.