The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that the 2014 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, presented by Easton, will be held from February 17-18, 2014 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan. 100 total players from the NAHL will be spread amongst five teams, who will play in two games each during the event. The event will feature teams that represent the four divisions in the NAHL: Central, Midwest, North and South, along with an NAHL 18U Selects team comprised of some of the top players currently playing in the NAHL that are 18 years old or younger.
In a very short period of time, the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament has become one of the most highly-scouted events of its kind. Last season, over 170 scouts attended the event, which featured almost every NHL team and NCAA Division I school. Over a third of the players that competed in last year’s event ended up with an NCAA Division I opportunity. Combined with the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament and NAPHL Championship series, it will make for an exciting week of hockey and provides a great opportunity for every scout and coach to get a close look the talent in the three leagues.
While the four NAHL divisional teams will play amongst each other at the event, the NAHL 18U Selects Team will face a yet to be named opponent on Monday, February 17th and then will face USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (NTDP) U17 Team on Tuesday, February 18th. This offers a unique opportunity for the NAHL and the NTDP to participate in a high-profile event in cooperation with one another. The NAHL and the NTDP have a rich and productive 12-year history together, as the NTDP was a full-time member of the NAHL from 1997-2009. The U.S. National Under-17 Team is coached by Don Granato and is coming off winning the World U17 Challenge title back in January 4th in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Only those NAHL players without an NCAA commitment are eligible to participate in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, with the exception of those who will be playing on the NAHL 18U Selects team. Each of the teams will consist of a 20-man roster (12 forwards, 6 defensemen, 2 goaltenders).
“The primary objective of the NAHL and the Top Prospects Tournament is to provide an opportunity for our players to get scouted. It is a great honor and reward for the players who are selected for this event and provides the hundreds of scouts in attendance with a great snapshot of how players have progressed since the start of the season,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “The approach here is not like an All-Star Game from the players perspective, they are all battling to earn NCAA opportunities and get noticed by NHL scouts, so it really takes the competition at the event to the next level.”
Teams will be ranked from first to last within each division based on winning percentage based upon standings as of January 20th. The highest seed in each division will send five players; the 2nd place team will send four, the 3rd-5th place teams will send three each and the 6th place team will send two. The 7th place team in the South will send two players to compete on the Central Division team. The head coach of the team with the best winning percentage in each division as of January 20th shall serve as the head coach for that division’s Top Prospects team. The head coach with the second best winning percentage in each group shall serve as the assistant coach for that division’s Top Prospects team.
2014 NAHL Top Prospects schedule:
Monday, February 17th: North vs. South, 1pm – Central vs. Midwest, 3:30pm – NAHL 18U Selects vs. TBA, 6pm
Tuesday, February 18th: Central vs. South, 1pm – Midwest vs. North, 3:30pm – NAHL 18U Selects vs. USNTDP 17-Team, 6pm
The Head Coaches of each Top Prospect Team will make final roster decisions after considering the player nominations submitted by individual teams. Top Prospects Head Coaches will finalize their rosters by 5:00pm CST on January 23rd. Top Prospects rosters for all teams will be formally announced on Tuesday, January 28th on nahl.com.
In conjunction with the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, all North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) teams - Midget Major and Midget Minor will compete in the NAPHL Championship Tournament Series for the right to be crowned league champions. That event runs from February 14-18, also at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.
The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) will also play their Top Prospects Tournament during the week, as all 21 teams will be represented amongst teams in the four divisions of the NA3HL. Each divisional Top Prospects team will play in three games from February 17-19 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)