NHL Central Scouting announced their Preliminary Players to Watch list in preparation for the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. The annual list identifies players using the following criteria:
- A Rating – indicates a 1st round candidate
- B Rating – indicates a 2nd/3rd round candidate
- C Rating – indicates a 4th/5th/6th round candidate
65 players who have played at least one USHL regular season game were named to the list. The 65 players were the most of any junior league in the world. Four USHL alumni were also include in the list. In total, 52 players with USHL ties are currently committed to or playing college hockey, including 16 A-rated or B-rated skaters.
Of the 14 USHL teams that had players named to the list, all 14 had more than one player listed.
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have 5 players on the list - current players Grant Silianoff (F) & Will Francis (D) and affiliate players Jackson Jutting (F), Derek Mullahy (G), and Eric Ciccolini (F).
The news comes after the 2018 NHL Draft in which the USHL had 57 players with league ties selected, including 45 players who played during the 2017-18 season, both of which set new USHL records. The USHL also led all junior leagues in the world with the 45 players who played in the league last season, at least 10 more than any other league in the world. 40 or more players from the USHL have been selected in seven consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season were committed to NCAA Division I schools.
The news also comes after the 2018 Dick's Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic, where scouts from every NHL team were in attendance to watch all 17 USHL teams play two regular season games.