The USHL Draft Process

The USHL Draft Process - as presented on

The USHL holds two different drafts each year. The first draft is called the “Futures Draft” because the players selected in this draft, while eligible, usually will not play in the USHL during the upcoming season. The 2012 Futures Draft for example restricts teams to selecting players who have a 1996 birth year. Each team will draft 6 players in the Futures Draft. These are the players each team may keep protected on an Affiliate List through the 2012-13 season while these players continue to develop at a lower level of hockey during the season.


USHL Futures Draft:

  • The League’s “first look” at the U.S.’s best.
  • Draft held in the spring (held before General Entry Draft)
  • For 2012, only players born in 1996 are eligible.
  • Players do not have to register to be drafted.
  • USHL Clubs draft in lottery-based order – six per team.
  • A future draft player’s USHL rights remain with the Club that drafted him (unless traded or released)


2011 USHL Futures Draft:               Player Breakdown

  • Tier 1 Elite League – 41
  • Other Midget AAA Hockey – 9
  • Tier III Junior Hockey – 3
  • Minnesota/North Dakota/Wisconsin High Schools – 17
  • Massachusetts High Schools – 1
  • Prep Schools – 7
  • International – 6
  • Other - 6


After that, each USHL team will submit an Initial Protected List of veteran players from the previous season, who will make up the backbone of the team.


The second and main USHL draft will be held late in May, after the Futures Draft. In 2012 for example, this draft is open to players with birthdates ranging from 1992 to 1997. Teams will fill their roster to a total of 30 players on this date, in addition to the 10 they have on their Affiliate List. The total number of players that a team will draft will vary depending on the number of returning players they have on the Initial Protected List. Typically teams will have 9 returning players, as 14 on average will be moving on to the NHL or NCAA Division I hockey. This is an average, and not a guarantee. Some teams will protect more players and some will protect less. Teams will have their training camps/tryouts in June and July. Teams will typically have 60-80 players at their training camps. 30 of the players at the camp are returning players or drafted players that the team has protected. The remaining 30-50 players are invited by the team. By July 1st of that year, teams must be down to a 25-man protected list from all the players that were at their training camps in June. Because the USHL is a relatively small league with only 15 teams, and each team only drafts a small number of players relative to other leagues, there are plenty of undrafted players who make the USHL every year.


USHL General Entry Draft:

  • The League’s main draft event.
  • Draft held in the spring (after Futures Draft).
  • Clubs look primarily at 17-, 18-, and 19-year olds).
  • Players do not have to register to be drafted.
  • USHL Clubs draft in order to complete a 30-man “Initial Protected List.”
  • A future draft player’s USHL rights remain with the Club that drafted him.
  • Each USHL Club enters the season with a 23-man roster.
  • No guarantees. No protected spots. You earn it.


Teams then take their 25-man roster to the USHL's Fall Classic at the end of September . The Fall Classic is a pre-season event where all of the USHL teams gather in one USHL location to play in front of over 100 NHL scouts and all NCAA Division I schools. Right after the Fall Classic and prior to October 1, each team will reduce their roster to 23. These 23 players make up the team's active roster for that season.


USHL Player Stats:

302         USHL players with Division I NCAA scholarship commitments in 2010-2011.

269         NCAA commitments so far in 2011-2012….and more coming.

185         USHL alumni active in the NHL.

28            USHL Players plus 9 alumni selected in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

25            USHL Players selected in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

13            NHL Draftees are playing in the USHL this season, getting ready for their NHL careers.

42            USHL players listed in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings in advance of the 2012 NHL Draft

* USHL players come from 33 states and 12 countries.


Junior Hockey Eligibility by birth year:

If a player turns 21 before Sept 1 of the upcoming season, he is ineligible to play the entire season. If he turns 21 mid season or any day after Sept 1 of that season, but must then enroll in classes during the remainder of the season so as to not lose any college eligibility