• Nate Winans

Buccaneers Top NHL Prospects

Des Moines finished the season on the outside looking in, but then again, every team in the USHL felt that way. The Buccaneers finished seventh in the Westen Conference and felt their season was somewhat of a letdown in regards to the talent that their team possessed. While the majority of the team will return for the 2020-21 season, several players will be lost to the NHL Draft. The players are:

Matt Choupani - Center

Heading into the NHL Draft, Matt was given a "C" skater rating from the NHL Central Scouting Report for North American Skaters. He was sixth on the team for points (17 goals, 14 assists) which has helped him move up to the 61st position for 2020 Draft Prospects in North America.

Even though he's already committed to North Eastern University, the 2020-21 season is up in the air for him at the moment. Just like every prospect, he has elements of his game to work on and he'll do so either in the USHL for another season or in an NHL team's system.

Kristof Papp - Center

From Budapest, Kristof is one of the highest touted players Hungary has produced in recent memory. He was ranked #125 by the NHL Central Scouting Report for North American Skaters and #172 by McKeen's Hockey.

This past season, Kristof donned four different jerseys- Madison Capitols, Des Moines Buccaneers, Hungary, Hungary U20. After playing for several different coaches in different systems, Kristof has valuable experience many other players do not, being able to flourish in different systems.

Scouts have him projected to be selected in the fifth round but with at least one year under his belt at Michigan State for the 2020-21 season, Kristof will hope to make any team who passed on him regret their decision.

Alex Laferriere - Right Wing

Not to be confused with Alexis Lafreniere, Alex led his team in points (19 goals, 26 assists, 45 points) and is highly touted entering this year's NHL Draft.

He is ranked #61 by the NHL Central Scouting Report, #62 by McKeen's Hockey, #80 by Future Considerations, and #93 by Eliteprospects.

Although his height may be a little small for some NHL scouts, they laud the skills he possesses and his work ethic. They also recognize he was one of the top scorers in the USHL this past season. Harvard is getting a solid hockey player for the 2020-21 season but it may be short-lived as the next level is calling his name!

Noah Ellis - Defenseman

Noah had an outstanding season for a rookie defender in the USHL. He was the fourth-highest scoring defender on the team (11 points) and has great size for his position. He was able to move players out of the way to keep the lane clear and gets up and down the ice very quickly.

He's ranked #86 by Future Considerations and #215 by the NHL Central Scouting Report for North American Skaters. Although he has somewhat of a low ranking, scouts love Noah and have him going as high as the fourth round in the draft.

NHL scouts are anticipating big things from each of these players and with a new organization that has more resources and more advanced training, the sky should be the limit for these four.

Check back for next week's article on the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders prospects. But in the meantime, be sure to follow me on Twitter @Nwinansw along with @JRHockeyPodcast for more junior hockey news.

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