Following Saturday's inaugural All-American prospect game in Buffalo, there were so many hockey scouts returning to Canada that one of the workers at customs finally stopped one to see what was going on.
"Was there a scouting convention or something?" he asked a scout on the way through customs.
In all roughly 150 scouts attended the game, which featured America's best young talent in an event that should become a USA Hockey tradition.
"I thought they did a great job," said one well-respected NHL director of scouting. "I wish it was in the middle of December. It's a hard game to scout."
The strong interest in the game is just the latest sign of how deep the hockey talent is in the U.S., and there's another strong crop of draft-eligibles this season. Here's a look at the 10 best U.S. draft prospects, starting with one of the top American prospects to come along in years:
1. Seth Jones, D -- There's just so much to like with Jones, who is playing in his first season in Portland (WHL). At 6-foot-3, he has the size and reach you want from a franchise defenseman. He plays a physical brand of hockey, and he's a good skater with strong decision-making skills. He makes a great first pass and is extremely poised and coachable. On Saturday, he was dominant in a game featuring the best talent in the country. He'll be a standout NHL defenseman on any team but one scout said that Jones' potential to reach greatness hinges on him landing with the right NHL franchise and getting the right coaching.
"This is a player who is going to need specific style coaching, almost a one-on-one thing," he said. "It's almost like having a quarterback coach for your QB so he keeps developing. He's still going to be able to play in the league but you may be trying to correct his game later on if he doesn't get that instant coaching."
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