Former NAPHL players recognized by NHL Central Scouting
Seven former North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) players, were recognized on the National Hockey League’s (NHL) ‘Prospects to Watch’ list for 2014 draft-eligible players with the release of NHL Central Scouting's preliminary list of players to watch in North America and Europe.
All of the seven players listed played in the NAPHL between 2010 and 2013. The selections continue to provide further proof that why in just four short years, the NAPHL has established itself as a legitimate training ground for development and exposure and has become one of the premier leagues of its kind in the United States.
The lists, comprised of "A," "B" and "C" players for the upcoming season in each of the main junior hockey leagues, are sent to NHL team scouts for the purpose of tracking the top draft-eligible players entering the 2013-14 season. All "A" skaters have been identified as potential first-round picks, while "B" players are considered second- or third-round candidates. The players on the "C" list are thought to be fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round possibilities.
The NAPHL continues to enjoy the benefit of high scouting exposure at their annual events, in which scouts get a look at players who could potentially be listed on the Players to Watch list, be it the current season or future seasons. All seven players listed took part at one time in the NAHL Showcase. A total of 48 NHL scouts, including those from NHL Central Scouting, were on hand this past week scouting players at the NAHL Showcase. Central Scouting's preliminary rankings will be revealed in November. That list includes the top 25 prospects for each of the various leagues throughout North America and Europe.
Former players from the NAPHL on the list include ‘A’ list goaltender Thatcher Demko. Demko, 17, is one of only two North American goaltenders listed as an ‘A’ list prospect. He spent time developing in the NAPHL as the goalie for the California Titans 16U team during the 2010-11 season. Sporting a 7-2-1 record with a very respectable 92.2% save percentage and a 1.90 goals against average. His save percentage and goals against average both ranked fourth in the 16U Division during the 2010-11 season. He will begin his collegiate career this Fall playing for NCAA Division I power house Boston College.
The ‘B’ list players include former Omaha AAA hockey club 16U forward Chris Wilkie. Wilkie, 17, was a forward for the Omaha AAA Hockey Club 16U program for two years in the NAPHL as he racked up 56 points in 38 regular season games during his tenure. His 22 goals, 26 assists and 48 points during the 2011-12 season were tops in the entire league and all three age divisions. During the season, Wilkie committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at the University of North Dakota. Wilkie spent the entire 2012-13 season with the USNTDP team where he registered 31 points in 56 games last season.
The other B list player on the list is former Omaha 16U forward Lawton Courtnall. In his first season with the Omaha 16U team in 2012-13, Courtnall, 17, had 32 goals and 46 assists for 78 points in 69 games played overall. He was selected in the USHL Draft by the Waterloo Blackhawks and signed an NAHL tender with the Texas Tornado.
There are four more former NAPHL players listed as ‘C’ list prospects including Jason Pawloski, who played for the Omaha 16U team during the 2011-12 season. He later went onto play last season for the NAHL’s Austin Bruins and appeared in the 2013 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. Goaltender Devin Williams, who played in the NAPHL during the 2010-11 season for the Motor City Metal Jackets 16U club, is listed and spent time with the Erie Otters in the OHL this past season. Finally, two former Pursuit of Excellence players made the list in forward Dysin Mayo and goaltender Payton Lee. Both played on the POE 18U team in the NAPHL as 15-year-olds during the 2011-12 season, and both are currently playing in the WHL this season.
NHL Central Scouting will release its midseason rankings of 2014 draft-eligibles in January, followed by its final rankings in April. The 2014 NHL Entry Draft will be at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 27-28.
A total of three former NAPHL players were selected in this past summer’s 2013 NHL Entry Draft.