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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hudon, Lucia among top-rated U.S. scholastic players

High school players were in high demand at the 2010 Entry Draft in Los Angeles, with three of the record 22 scholastic players taken in the first round.

There's no question players are beginning to mature at a faster pace than ever before, largely due to the fact coaching, training and diet have become so valued.

More and more NHL general managers are willing to take a risk on a scholastic standout and have him mature and strengthen his position at a U.S. college, in the United States Hockey League or one of Canada's junior leagues, before making the jump to the pro ranks.

Since the 2003 draft, 135 high-school players have been taken by NHL teams. In 2008, 15 were taken, and in 2009, 19 were selected. In June, Nick Bjugstad of Blaine (Minn.) High School was the first of 22 high-school standouts chosen when the Florida Panthers took him with the 19th pick. Bjugstad currently is a freshman at the University of Minnesota.

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