The Prospects game features 40 of the best NHL draft-eligible players in the USA, and while the rosters were dominated by USA Hockey's handpicked skaters from the National Development Team Program, Minnesota was well represented. Lakeville North defenseman Jack McNeely skated on Team Olczyk, and was one of only two high school players on the ice. The rest were either pedigreed NTDP skaters or on temporary leave from their juniors teams. Notably Baer and Bittner took time away from their Canadian major juniors teams, the Vancouver Giants and Portland Winterhawks respectively. Indeed, seven players were on leave from Canadian major junior teams to take part in the showcase. (While the Minnesota State High School League stands firmly on the side of players staying at home, maintaining amateur status and taking the NCAA route, USA Hockey is less idealistic when it comes to picking its best players -- even if they are toiling away as "professionals" in the WHL.)
Hockey fans may recall that in last year's Prospects game, former Minneapolis Storm skater and Breck School bone-crusher Keegan Iverson was named game MVP. He too has been playing "professional" juniors at the WHL's Portland Winterhawks franchise , and was drafted earlier this year by the New York Rangers. Novak, Bittner and Boeser are all on NHL Central Scouting's watch list and are expected to have their names called in Florida next summer.
For those keeping score at home, this year's game featured three Minnesota skaters who are NCAA bound (Novak, Boeser, and McNeely) and two who went the major juniors route (Baer and Bittner). Of all five players, only McNeely will finish out his high school eligibility. All the others, including Iverson, would also have been seniors this year.