Craig’s List: US NTDP's Hagens emerges as potential No. 1 in 2025 NHL Draft
It appears the United States National Team Development Program has another star prospect in the making, this one seemingly destined for the top of the 2025 NHL Draft.
While goal-scoring phenom and top 2024 draft prospect Cole Eiserman is leading the US NTDP U18 team in scoring this season with 21 goals and 30 points, James Hagens is carving out his own star trajectory as of one the next great American hockey prospects.
With 28 points in 15 games to sit second in US NTDP scoring behind Eiserman, Hagens already has a decorated resume on the international stage, winning U17 gold in 2022 with eight goals and 21 points in seven games. The 17-year-old centre also helped Team USA win gold at the U18s with five points in seven games.
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button has Hagens as the early favourite to be the first-overall pick in 2025.
“He’s an elite driver of offence from the centre-ice position,” said Button of Hagens. “You’re looking at a player who can create offence and deliver the puck. His vision, his puck skills, and he’s an underrated scorer. A very, very good player who can be elusive. He’s creative.”
The second player on Button’s list to watch for is Swedish centre Anton Frondell, who is fresh off captaining his country to bronze at the U17s. He had six goals and an assist in seven games at the tournament.
This season, the 16-year-old has nine goals and 19 points in 12 games skating with Djurgardens J20 squad.
“Strong, two-way centre,” said Button of Frondell. “You watch him play and he’s got the well-rounded, two-way game like [Aleksander] Barkov. Good everywhere on the ice, no matter where – with or without the puck, offensively, defensively, playmaking, scoring, killing penalties. He’s the real deal.”
The top defenceman on the list is Logan Hensler at No. 3, who is a teammate of Hagens on the US NTDP U18 team.
The 17-year-old has two goals and 11 points in 17 games this season. He won gold with Team USA at the 2022 U17s with five assists in seven games.
“He is a cut above when it comes to the defencemen at this time,” said Button of Hensler. “He can shoot the puck, pass the puck. He’s just a difference maker. He’s an excellent skater who uses it in every single positive regard. He’s looking more and more comfortable being assertive.”
The fourth player on Button’s list is Saginaw Spirit forward Michael Misa, who was granted exceptional status into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) ahead of the 2022-23 season. After a season where he scored 22 goals and 56 points in 45 games, earning OHL Rookie of the Year honours, he has nine goals and 19 points in 16 games this season. He earned silver at the 2022 U17s and helped Canada win gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.
“I think he’s best suited to being a centre,” said Button of Misa. “He’s creative and he’s a good playmaker, and he’s got a lot of ability to create offence out of seemingly nothing. It’s one thing to have imagination – a lot of players can imagine things – but to be able to be creative when things aren’t as clearly evident, I think that’s a nice quality Michael has.”
Rounding out the top five is Brandon Wheat Kings forward Roger McQueen. The 17-year-old is already 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds and has seen a significant jump in his production this season.
As a rookie in 2022-23, he had just four goals and 14 points in 55 games. To start this season, he has 13 goals and 26 points through 21 games. In August, he was a part of the Canadian squad that won gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with four goals and seven points.
“He is now comfortable using the size combined with the skill to impact the game,” said Button on McQueen.
The sixth player on the list is Mississauga Steelheads winger Porter Martone. Another member of the golden Hlinka Gretzky Cup squad, he has 12 goals and 20 points in 17 games in the OHL this season. He also helped Canada win bronze at the U18s with six points in seven games.
“He wants to drive play to the net, he’s assertive along the boards,” said Button. “He can finish, he’s a hungry, competitive player. He might be lowercase Corey Perry. He’s got some edge to his game. He’s smart, he’s cagey, good penalty killer.”
The second defenceman on the list at No. 7 is Matthew Schaefer of the OHL’s Erie Otters. He has just one goal in 13 games to start off his rookie season after being selected first overall in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection draft. However, he is coming off captaining Canada White to gold at the U17s, where he posted one goal and four points in eight games.
“Elite skating, elite calm and poise,” said Button of Schaefer. “I don’t know if Matthew is going to be a player that is going to put up these massive numbers with respect to offence, but you’re just never in trouble with him. He knows how to alleviate pressure. He knows how to get the puck moving in the right direction everywhere on the ice.”
At No. 8 is centre Will Moore, who is playing for the US NTDP U17 team this season and has seven goals and 16 points in 16 games.
He helped the Americans earn silver at the U17s as he led the tournament in scoring with five goals and 12 points in seven games.
“He’s got a real nice blend of intelligence, skill and competitive fire,” said Button. “He’s another strong centre who can play in so many different ways.”
The ninth player is Moncton Wildcats forward Caleb Desnoyers, the younger brother of Philadelphia Flyers prospect Elliot.
Desnoyers, 16, has five goals and 15 points in 15 games to start his rookie season. He was also part of the Canada White squad that won gold.
“He’s smart with the puck, he’s smart without the puck,” said Button. “He can do a lot of things in the game with respect to positive plays. I think his offence is good. He’s been growing and I think he hit another point of getting comfortable with his size and everything that goes with it. But he’s a hungry competitive player.”
Rounding out the top 10 is Russian centre Ivan Ryabkin, who is skating in the MHL this season with Dynamo Moscow.
The 16-year-old has nine goals and 18 points in 16 games.
“He’s highly skilled and what I would call a multiple offensive threat,” said Button. “He can score and make plays. There’s a lot of dynamic qualities in his offensive game. There haven’t been very many Russian centres like that.”
An additional player Button believes can push his way into the top 10 is Vancouver Giants forward Cameron Schmidt.
Schmidt has three goals and eight points in 11 games to start his rookie season, but had five goals at the U17s, including the overtime winner in the gold medal game that secured the title for Canada White.
“He’s an unbelievable package of skill, jump, spirit and energy,” said Button. “You quickly forget as you watch him play that he’s small. It doesn’t even factor into the game when you’re watching him. The intelligence, the quickness – he’s good. He’s a hungry, hard player.”
Craig's List - 2025 NHL Draft Prospects
|1||James Hagens||USA NTDP (U18)||C||5'10||168||15||8||28|
|2||Anton Frondell||Djurgardens (SWE J20)||C||6'0||179||12||9||19|
|3||Logan Hensler||USA NTDP (U18)||D||6'2||196||17||2||11|
|4||Michael Misa||Saginaw (OHL)||C||5'11||161||16||9||19|
|5||Roger McQueen||Brandon (WHL)||C||6'5||190||21||13||26|
|6||Porter Martone||Mississauga (OHL)||RW||6'3||170||17||12||20|
|7||Matthew Schaefer||Erie (OHL)||D||6'1||161||13||1||1|
|8||Will Moore||USA NTDP (U17)||C||6'2||161||16||7||16|
|9||Caleb Desnoyers||Moncton (QMJHL)||C||6'1||163||15||5||15|
|10||Ivan Ryabkin||Moscow (MHL)||C||6'0||170||16||9||18|