USHL developing first-round talent
When it comes to scouting future NHL superstars, the United States Hockey League traditionally has been an afterthought compared to Canadian major junior hockey.
However, America's premier circuit for players under 21 is quietly closing the gap with its northern counterparts. With perhaps its best crop of prospects eligible for next June's NHL draft, the USHL could have a record number of players chosen in the first round for the second time in three years.
In 2010, four USHL stars were selected in the top 30, including goalie Jack Campbell, taken by Dallas at No. 11, and Derek Forbort, who went 15th overall to Los Angeles. That paled in comparison to the Ontario Hockey League's (OHL) nine, but consider that the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) -- which has produced some of the best players in hockey history such as Sidney Crosby, Patrick Roy and Mario Lemieux -- had just one skater taken in the first round.
"It has gotten better, absolutely," Danny O'Brien, a scout for the Dallas Stars, says of the USHL and its growing influence on draft day.
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