A topic many Minnesota high school hockey fans hate to discuss or that matter, do not want to hear about. That of players who left the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) early to take a different pathway in their hockey career, whether that is major juniors in Canada (WHL, OHL, Etc.), the USA National Team Development Program (US NTDP), or another junior hockey league such as the United States Hockey League (USHL) or the North American Hockey League (NAHL). I’m not going to argue about which pathway is better or bash one side or the other but I am going to put together a 1st and 2nd of “Minnesota High School All-Leave-Early-Team”. These teams will consist of the incredible amount of talent that played in the MSHSL and would have graduated this year (2018) but left year to go elsewhere in their hockey career. It is crazy to think about the amount of talent that has left the MSHSL but hope these teams will give you a better perspective on the talent the Minnesota hockey class of 2018 once had.
Gavin Hain (Grand Rapids)
Gavin was a huge part of Grand Rapids winning the state championship last year but will not be back for the Thunderhawks. Hain is a gifted individual that will leave the MSHSL to play with US NTDP this season. Hain is a commit of the University of North Dakota and is likely to be a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.
Jaxon Nelson (Luverne)
As a sophomore, Jaxon Nelson led the state in points with 113, not to mention 83 as a freshman and 62 as an eighth grader! After that great season, he packed his bags and headed to Sioux Falls in the USHL. Nelson will wear the maroon and gold next year and is expected to an NHL draft pick next summer.
Devlin McCabe (St. Paul Academy)
Dev McCabe had 60 points and was the captain for St. Paul Academy last year. This season, he will take his talents to Lincoln and play for the Stars in the USHL. McCabe is a future Bulldog and might be a late round NHL draft pick.
K’Andre Miller (Minnetonka)
K’Andre Miller once laced it up for the Minnetonka Skippers but has recently been playing for the US NTDP. Miller is a 6’3 defenseman who is likely to be late 1st or 2nd round selection in the upcoming draft. He will be heading to the University of Wisconsin next season.
Clayton Phillips (Edina)
2017 NHL Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Clayton Phillips with their third-round pick. Phillips is a former Edina Hornet but has played the last season with the Fargo Force in the USHL. He will play another year with Force before heading to the University of Minnesota next year.
Keegan Karki (St. Cloud Cathedral)
From Sartell, Keegan Karki used to be the goaltender for St. Cloud Cathedral but after his sophomore season to play for the US NTDP. This year he will play for the Omaha Lancers in the USHL and he was committed to UND but recently decommitted. He could be choosing a new school soon or head to the WHL after this season. He is also a prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft.
Xander Lamppa (Rochester John Marshall)
This one might be a little under the radar but Xander Lamppa is an incredible talent that left Rochester John Marshall (RJM) this season to play with the Austin Bruins in the NAHL. He had 46 points for RJM last season and don’t be surprised if he late-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Dylan Mills (Hill-Murray)
Dylan Mills was a member of the of 2014-15 Hill-Murray Pioneers team that went state, he had 27 points as a sophomore. His junior year he played with the Minnesota Wilderness in the NAHL and this season you can see him playing for the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL.
Ben Ward (Monticello)
Ben Ward was the leader and best player of that incredible Monticello team that made it all the way to the state championship game last year against Hermantown. Ward had 78 points for the Moose last year including 14 in the sectional playoffs and seven in the state tournament. Ward will be playing in the NAHL this season with the Minnesota Wilderness and recently made a commitment to play his college hockey at St. Cloud State.
Mikey Anderson (Hill-Murray)
It is crazy to think I have an NHL draft pick on the Second-Team… The LA Kings drafted Mikey Anderson in the 4th round this summer, and yes he would have been a senior in high school this year. He left Hill-Murray high school to play in the USHL with the Waterloo Blackhawks and earned his high school degree early. He is already enrolled at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and will be a regular in the lineup for the Bulldogs this season.
Grant Anderson (Wayzata)
Grant Anderson won a Minnesota state championship with the Wayzata Trojans in 2016. This season Anderson will be a member of the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL and is a commit of the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Zach Stejskal (Grand Rapids)
Zach Stejskal, who was teammates with Gavin Hain last year in Grand Rapids, won a state championship and decided to move on. He will play for Central Illinois in the USHL and has made his commitment to UMD to play college hockey.
Isaiah Dilaura Lakeville South –> Prince George WHL
Jared Moe Holy Family –> Waterloo USHL
Lucas McGregor Centennial –> Central Illinois USHL
Chase Hartje Bemidji –> Moose Jaw WHL
Peter Tabor Holy Family –> Waterloo USHL
James Marooney Holy Family –> Waterloo USHL