BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Bloomington Thunder, a proud member of the United States Hockey League, were well represented in NHL Development Camps over the last three weeks.
Each of the 31 NHL teams holds a development camp following the NHL Draft, as 16 players with Thunder ties participated at the development camps of 15 different NHL clubs this year. That total is the highest for one season in team history.
Among the Thunder players that participated in the prospect camps were six players that played for Bloomington during the 2016-17 season and Sklyer Brind’Amour, a member of the Thunder’s 2016-17 affiliate list.
All three of the Thunder’s 2017 NHL Draft picks competed at NHL Development Camps, which included 2016-17 Thunder alternate captain Wyatt Kalynuk (Philadelphia Flyers), defenseman Ben Mirageas (New York Islanders), and defenseman Nick Leivermann (Colorado Avalanche). Goaltender Gabe Mollot-Hill (San Jose Sharks) and forwards Mitchell Mattson (Calgary Flames) and Walker Duehr (New York Rangers) were camp invites, as well. It was the second Flames Development Camp for Mattson, who was drafted by Calgary in 2016, while Mollot-Hill and Duehr both received camp invitations as undrafted free agents.
There were also eight former Thunder players that participated at development camps in addition to Michal Stinil (Anaheim
Ducks), a 2017 USHL Phase II Draft pick by the Thunder. Goaltender Hayden Lavigne, who played with Bloomington from 2014-16, attended the Ottawa Senators Development Camp at the beginning of July and will also take part in the Chicago Blackhawks Prospect Camp. Jake Slaker, who is Lavigne’s teammate at the University of Michigan, was at the Vegas Golden Knights Development Camp.
Several other key pieces of Bloomington’s 2015-16 squad also were part of NHL Development Camp rosters. After an impressive freshman season at Quinnipiac University, Brogan Rafferty was also named to the Blackhawks Prospect Camp roster along with Lavigne. Defenseman Jeremy Davies participated in his second camp with the New Jersey Devils after being drafted last June, while rear guard
Although he went undrafted at the 2017 NHL Draft, 2016-17 goaltender Gabe Mollot-Hill earned a spot at the San Jose Sharks Development Camp. The Ottawa, Ontario, native will play at Providence College next season.
Matt Foley took part in the Nashville Predators Development Camp.
The Thunder also had three NHL Development Camp representatives from the inaugural 2014-15 team, including the first two players to sign NHL contracts in team history: defenseman Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) and Vince Pedrie (New York Rangers). Nikolas Koberstein (Montreal Canadiens), who is heading into his junior year at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, participated at his fourth development camp with the Canadiens.
About the Thunder
The Bloomington Thunder are a member of the top junior hockey league in the United States, the United States Hockey League (USHL). The only Tier I junior hockey league in the country, the USHL has become renowned for developing the future talent of both Division I college hockey and the NHL. At the start of the 2016-17 season, there were 108 active NHL players who were USHL alumni. In total, there have been 253 USHL players who have gone onto NHL careers, including Patrick Sharp, David Backes, Johnny Gaudreau, and Joe Pavelski, among others. The players in the USHL range in age from 16-20-years-old, 95 percent of whom will go on to play college hockey at the Division I level. For more information, visit bloomingtonthunder.com or ushl.com or download the USHL Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.