Jun. 1—BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dylan James played a key part in bringing the Sioux City Musketeers their first Clark Cup in 20 years last weekend.
James, the left wing on Sioux City's top line, became the first United States Hockey League rookie to hit the 60-point mark in six years. In the playoffs, he finished second on the team in goals and points en route to helping Sioux City win the title.
James is earning recognition for his season.
On Wednesday, James was named the USHL's Rookie of the Year.
He's the first UND commit to win it since Brandon Bochenski in 2001. Tyler Palmiscno (1999) and Karl Goehring (1997) also won it.
Playing on the left wing of future UND teammate Owen McLaughlin, James scored 28 goals and 61 points in 62 games.
James' style isn't flashy, but he's an explosive skater who plays with a lot of tenacity. He's excellent around the net, where he scores most of his goals.
"DJ is one unreal human," Sioux City coach Luke Strand tweeted this week. "He's going to be a PRIZE for the lucky @nhl club! Instantly a better coach with this guy on your bench!!"
James is now headed to Buffalo, N.Y., to participate in the NHL Combine, which is designed to evaluate the top prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft.
James was one of 96 players invited and he'll be one of 86 in attendance at the event. He'll undergo off-ice testing and interview with NHL teams. The Combine runs through this weekend.
The NHL Combine invite is another sign that James is expected to go in the top-100 of the draft. He's tracking toward a second- or third-round selection.
James is expected to be UND's highest draft prospect this summer.
After playing only a handful of games during the 2020-21 season because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Canada, James has skyrocketed up draft boards this season, his first in Sioux City.
James will be one of four rookie forwards on UND's roster next season. Another one, Ben Strinden, also is draft eligible next month, but will likely get picked in the late rounds. He was not invited to the NHL Combine.
The other two incoming freshman forwards — McLaughlin (Philadelphia Flyers, 7th round) and Jackson Blake (Carolina Hurricanes, 4th round) — were selected in last year's draft.
Most Fighting Hawks players will return to Grand Forks in July.
Five other NCHC players/commits were invited to the NHL Combine.
Denver forward Jack Devine, who was a rookie on the Pioneers' 2022 NCAA title team, earned an invite. So did St. Cloud State recruit Adam Ingram, Denver commit Rieger Lorenz and Minnesota Duluth commits Isaac Howard and Zam Plante.
2022 — Dylan James, Sioux City
2021 — Cole Sillinger, Sioux Falls
2020 — Brendan Brisson, Chicago
2019 — Zac Jones, Tri-City
2018 — Matej Pekar, Muskegon
2017 — Andre Svechnikov, Muskegon
2016 — Cameron Morrison, Youngstown
2015 — Kieffer Bellows, Sioux Falls
2014 — Robby Jackson, Chicago
2013 — Jake Guentzel, Sioux City
2012 — Taylor Cammarata, Waterloo
2011 — Johnny Gaudreau, Dubuque
2010 — Anders Lee, Green Bay
2009 — Louis Leblanc, Omaha
2008 — Jack Connolly, Sioux Falls
2007 — Max Pacioretty, Sioux City
2006 — Kyle Okposo, Des Moines
2005 — Chad Rau, Des Moines
2004 — Matt Ford, Sioux Falls
2003 — Joe Pavelski, Waterloo
2002 — Danny Richmond, Chicago
2001 — Brandon Bochenski, Lincoln
2000 — Troy Riddle, Des Moines
1999 — Tyler Palmiscno, Sioux City
1998 — Mark Cullen, Fargo-Moorhead
1997 — Karl Goehring, Fargo-Moorhead
Dylan James, F, UND commit
Adam Ingram, F, St. Cloud State commit
Jack Devine, F, Denver forward
Rieger Lorenz, F, Denver commit
Isaac Howard, F, Minnesota Duluth commit
Zam Plante, F, Minnesota Duluth commit