Phantoms add 29 players through USHL draft

Highlighted by tender signees Beckham Edwards and Jack Hextall, the Youngstown Phantoms bolstered their roster now and for the future in both phases of the USHL Draft this past week.

Counting Edwards and Hextall, the Phantoms brought in a combined 29 players across Phase I and II of the draft, some of which will suit up as soon as this fall.


Phase I of the draft is for more developmental pieces. Some of these players will see time in Youngstown this season, but others are a year or possibly more away from playing significant minutes with the Phantoms.

Edwards and Hextall count as the team’s first and second round picks respectively in the Phase I Draft, but the Phantoms acquired an additional second round pick in the trade that sent Brandon Svoboda and Finn McLaughlin to Fargo.

With that pick, the Phantoms took Eric Frossard, a left-shot defenseman from London, Ontario. Listed at 6-foot-5 and expected to play this upcoming season, Frossard joins an already jam-packed defensive core, and could be an impact player for the Phantoms as soon as this year.

“He’s another kid from Canada, and he’s going to be an NHL Draft pick,” Phantoms co-GM Jason Deskins said. “He’s 6-foot-5, he’s long, he’s smooth, he skates well, the sky’s the limit for this kid. He has a chance to be playing the game for a long, long time because he sits by and checks all the boxes and plays a little bit of an edge. He’s just a great kid.”

Connor Schubert, the team’s third-round selection, is one of those developmental pieces, but when Schubert is ready, the Phantoms are optimistic on him being a major impact piece.

“I spent about 22 hours in a snowstorm driving to Minnesota back in February just to get a chance to really dig in and watch him play live and meet the family and get to know them and he’s just your all-around hard, heavy, skilled, smart hockey player and not even close to done growing yet,” Phantoms co-GM Ryan Kosecki said. “He’s going to be a real big kid when it’s all said and done, he’s got a chance to really fill out and turn into a big time player for us and become an NHL draft pick here the next few years. That was a kid that we were targeting more for the future where he’s probably at least a year away, maybe two, but as he continues to grow and evolve as a player, he’s going to be a special one.”

Phantom fans might recall Jake Rozzi, who was on the Clark Cup championship squad. In the fourth round, the Phantoms selected Rozzi’s brother Dylan.

Rozzi has averaged over a point-per-game pace in each of his seasons in AAA hockey, including last season where he scored 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 42 games as a 15-year old playing in a U18 league in Quebec.

Other Phase I selections include defensemen Sean Burick, George Komadoski, and Odin Vauhkonen, and forwards Ethan Garden, Luca Jarvis, Andrei Molgachyov, and Sean Miller


The Phantoms kicked off Phase II with a goaltender, selecting Melvin Strahl, a Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick from 2023. Strahl is expected to battle for a goaltender spot next season.

Youngstown dipped into the Slovakian well once again, and by their accounts, have pulled another gem in forward Adam Benak. Benak turned heads at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this past season, scoring 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in just five games. The speedy forward is garnering hype for the 2025 NHL Draft where it’s likely he’ll be a high selection.

While a very lofty comparison, Deskins and Kosecki touched on Benak having bits of Jack Hughes in his game, highlighting his speed.

“He’s probably one of the fastest kids in the draft, if not one of the fastest 2007-born players in the world,” Kosecki said. “He’s projected as a high NHL pick in 2025 and played on the Slovakian national team, and we’re excited to get him into town.”

Five picks later, the Phantoms added Canadian blueliner Hubert Clarke, a defenseman from Norway House, Manitoba.

Arguably the most interesting story of the class, Clarke comes from an area nearly nine hours north of Winnipeg, and just started playing defense two seasons ago.

“He was actually a kid that Ryan and I just really did a lot of extra work digging into and digging around just trying to find players that could potentially play for the Phantoms someday,” Deskins said. “He’s 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, he can skate and he’s really smart. He has a good stick and is obviously a big long rangy kid. The best part about it is he was playing goalie two years ago and if you watch him on film, there’s no way you would believe that, which is a testament to the kid’s athleticism.

“Obviously with his sports IQ being able to transition like that, we think he’s got a chance to be a pretty high-end player and a kid that also will probably be exciting a lot of NHL scouts during his draft year.

A potential fan favorite this season will be William Fleet. The University of Alaska-Fairbanks defenseman is a right-shot blueliner who isn’t afraid to throw the body around. Both Kosecki and Deskins agree that the Denver native embodies the “Gritty City” mantra they and coach Ryan Ward have been looking to cultivate in Youngstown.

Other Phase II selections include forwards Michael Coleman, Justin Kerr, Kade Stengrim, Rian Chudzinski, Jakub Hes, Kade Kanaly, Tyler Stern, and Anthony Casper and defensemen Jonathan Brown, Victor Mannebratt, and Tate Hardacre, and Luke Santilli.

Phantom fans will get their first look at these players at the team’s development camp, which is set to be held starting June 12 at Printscape Arena outside of Pittsburgh.

Have an interesting story? Contact Brian Yauger by email at byauger@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @_brianyauger.


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