• Nate Winans

Muskegon Lumberjacks Top NHL Prospects

The Lumberjacks finished sixth in the USHL's Eastern Conference after a somewhat disappointing season with the talent this team possesses. Things were beginning to come together with the season heading into the final stretch prior to being canceled. The number of future NHL players is outstanding and it was difficult to keep this list to only four players.

Muskegon Lumberjacks

Daniil Gushchin - Right Wing

Daniil heads into the 2020 NHL Draft with NHL scouts absolutely buzzing about him. Scouts love his offensive pace, quickness, stellar puckhandling, and shooting ability. His ability to fend off larger opponents and elusiveness adds to Daniil's "B" skater ranking. For the Lumberjacks, he scored 22 goals and recorded 25 assists for a total of 47 points on the shortened season.

If there's one thing scouts wanted more from Daniil this season, it was to see more of him. He's ranked #41 by NHL Central Scouting Report for North American Skaters, #51 by Future Considerations, #54 by Elite Prospects, #84 by McKeen's Hockey.

Daniil is projected to be taken early in the second round by either the Reg Wings or Senators but the majority of scouts project him being selected by the Red Wings.

Hank Kempf - Defenseman

After only playing several games in the USHL in 2018-19, Hank's first full USHL season shows plenty of promise for the 18-year-old. He is not only one of the best rookie defenseman, he's also one of the best in the league.

He had a +/- of +18, second-best on the team to Daniil's +21. When Hank was named to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team, head coach Mike Hamilton had these words of praise, "Hank was a rock for us all season and was consistently the best defender on the ice each night and was matched against our opponent's top line every game. With such a successful rookie campaign, we are excited to see the steps Hank takes next season. Hank has an NHL future ahead of him. Some team is going to be very lucky to have him as a prospect."

Hank was ranked #204 by the NHL Central Scouting Report for North American Skaters and was given a "C" ranking as well. He is committed to Cornell for the 2020-21 season.

Jack Williams - Right Wing

The 2019-20 USHL season was Jack's first full USHL season having played only a handful of games the year prior. Scouts like what Jack currently has to offer and believe that playing more games with greater competition will help further his career. The talent and potential is there, it just needs to be tapped in to.

He is committed to Northeastern University for the 2020-21 season and holds a "C" skater ranking heading into the NHL Draft.

Cameron Berg - Center

Cameron Berg was an early-season acquisition for the Lumberjacks as he came from the Omaha Lancers. Cam made his impact known the moment he put on the Lumberjacks jersey. In only 32 games, he scored 18 goals and tallied 12 assists with a +4 performance.

Scouts describe Cam as a powerful skater who plays the boards well and has an ability to create separation like no other. He is ranked as a "C" skater and was ranked #156 by McKeen's Hockey and #185 by the NHL Central Scouting Report for North American Skaters. A number of scouts have him being selected with the 161st pick of the NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils but say that if his passing ability were to improve, he would definitely be selected even higher.

He's committed to the University of Nebraska for the 2020-21 season.

The Lumberjacks have at least two things to look forward to in their near future- the number of NHL picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and the potential of next year's team. There are several players who will be able to fill the shoes of their outgoing teammates to finish the job of the 2019-20 team.

Follow me on Twitter @Nwinansw along with @TJHP for all your junior hockey news.

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