By DraftPro Staff

The IIHF World U18 Hockey Championships just wrapped up last week in Espoo and Vantaa Finland, and was a scouting hotspot as a last big event for NHL staffs who are charged with evaluating the next wave of NHL talent.

There were some bright spots for the upcoming 2024 NHL draft that stood out and some future draft eligibles that really grabbed the spotlight. In this ten-part series we will look at each team entry and provide some review of prospects, how they performed and how their performance might have affected their draft stock. We will start with the last place team, Kazakhstan, and work our way through to the gold medal winning Canadian squad.

The Americans are always a big threat to bring home the gold at this event. The National Team Development Program is geared toward this event being the culmination of their two-year programs aim for this roster as they battle from u17 to u18 age groups.

Here are some player reports from our Andy Miller on the USA U18 players that stood out.

#10 James Hagens, C, USNTDP, U18, 5’10”, 158, L,  DOB 11.3.2006

Hagens is an electric player who did everything but disappoint with his demonstration of skill in the U18 tournament. He took over every game at some point or another. He was the tournament MVP leading the tournament in points. Hagens drove team USA through the round robin portion with his incredible hockey IQ and ability to distribute the puck to his teammates. He scored over a goal a game and averaged over three points a game. He had a remarkable tournament and the only smudge on his tournament was Canada’s ability to keep him off the scoresheet in the final game. His shot has a deceptive release and has a lot behind it.

#23 Cole Hutson, D, USNTDP, (USHL), 5’8”, 143, L, DOB 6.28.2006

Hutson demonstrated his elite offensive skill set from the backend at the tournament and was selected as the top defender in the tournament. He is a player who with one pass can exit the zone and he can transition from defense to offense quickly. He is a player that had a wonderful tournament. In the final game he played his best in the final against the deep and skilled team of Canada. He is a player who could develop into a top puck moving defenseman on a team and even a top one in the NHL. Hutson showed off his exceptional skating talent and he is a player who will be a later first round selection in the upcoming NHL draft.

#34 Cole Eiserman, LW, USNTDP U18, L, 5’11”, 192, DOB 8.29.2006

Eiserman has a pro shot and this will translate well to the NHL in a few years. He finished second in goal scoring at the tournament with 9 goals and was a factor throughout the tournament. He displayed his strong skating skills in every game. He was a key player in keeping team USA in the hunt for the gold in the Final game and they just came up short. He continued to show his willingness to go to the tough areas of the ice against a team that defended exceptionally well. When looking at the shot map his shots were all quality chances. He needs to clean up his game without the puck though. He will be a top ten selection and has an outside chance of being inside the top 5 as well.

#16 Trevor Connelly, F, USA, L, 6’1, 161, DOB 2.28.2006

Connelly is a very creative player who left a mark on this tournament. Being a bit of an outsider on team USA he did quite well fitting into the team, likely due to his high end skating skills. He demonstrated his great hands in passing the puck and putting it on the tape for quality chances, or deking in areas or around players. He is a player who if he has any time and space showed that he will make his opponent pay. Connelly was a player who managed to improve his game throughout the tournament and was a key piece for team USA. He is always an offensive threat on the ice and was a difference maker in many games.  He will likely be a top 15 selection in the upcoming draft.

#27 Will Skahan, D, USNTDP U18 (USHL), L, 6’4”, 205, DOB 5.14.2006

Skahan played a solid tournament and left a positive impression. He did not change anyone’s opinion on his playing style as he is a defensive defenseman who can move the puck. He still managed to put up two points and played well every game.  Plus/minus is not the most reliable stat but he was a +2 in the Gold medal loss which did represent his ice time as he was a positive player in the gold medal game on both sides of the puck. He is a player who will be a few years from getting to the NHL but will be a second pair guy on a deep team or a solid reliable anchor for an offensive defenseman on the first pair.

#8 Teddy Stiga, LW, USNTDP (USHL), L,5’10”, 176, DOB 4.5.2006

Stiga is a very quick skater who can turn on a dime and is very agile. He has the ability to find open lanes when he has the puck on his stick. He is a great puck handler and can be creative with the puck on his stick. He has a good shot and a quick release that is hard to read. Stiga is also responsible with the puck on his stick and while he makes quick decisions his decisions are typically the right one’s. He was a very versatile player who was effective in all areas of the game. He plays a 200 foot game and can play with speed in open ice or work the wall and come up with the puck.  He solidified himself as a likely second round selection in the upcoming draft with his play in this tournament.

#7 Dakoda Rheaume-Mullen, D, USNTDP U18, 6’0”, 181, L, DOB 12.18.2006

Rheuume-Mullen is a smooth skating defenseman who has good offensive instincts and can lead the rush confidently. He clearly has a high hockey IQ and uses that to make his decisions that he does with certainty. He was a bit too risky at times and could turn the puck over and made a bit more work for himself than was needed. He has great edge control and transitions quickly with or without the puck. He typically has good body position on the defensive side of the puck but like all young players could bulk up a bit more. He has another year til his draft but showed that he will be a solid draft option in the 2025 draft.

#16 Logan Hensler, D, USNTDP U18, R, 6’2”, 197, DOB 10.14.2006

Hensler is a big defender who has decent mobility too.  He put up almost a point a game in the tournament and was an effective player for pushing the puck up the ice for team USA. He was a physical presence at times. He is a quality passer who was able to find the seams and put the puck on a platter and made it easy to receive. He is a good defensive defenseman who has decent strength to help box players out at the net front. The tournament helped his draft status for next year as he demonstrated his ability to handle top end players.

#31 Nick Kempf, G, USA U18, L, 6’2”, 190, DOB 6.19.2006

Kempf is a goaltender with good size and he uses it well. He typically has good box control and doesn’t over play the puck. He demonstrated calmness during this tournament and was able to settle things down for team USA when it was needed.  He was able to make the saves he needed  to. He read the play well and tracked the puck well.  He had good rebound control in the tournament and didn’t make extra work for himself in the tournament.  Kempf moved well laterally and opened up few holes when he moved. He usurped Parsons as the number one goaltender for USA at this tournament and he certainly helped his status for the draft by doing that and could be as high as a fourth round selection after his play at this tournament.

Photos courtesy IIHF.com


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