Rochester native Haskins out to prove he's a 'top player' in the USHL, strong NHL Draft prospect
Tyler Haskins is nearly a point-per-game player for the Madison Capitols in the USHL this season. The Rochester native and University of Michigan commit hopes to hear his name called in the NHL Draft in July.
Tyler Haskins saw the number beside his name last week when the NHL’s Central Scouting Service issued its 2022 mid-term player rankings.
The Central Scouting rankings are highly anticipated every year, not only by fans, but also by players who are eligible to be selected in the next NHL Draft (set for July 7-8, this year). They provide an approximate idea of which round a player might be drafted in.
Haskins is one of those players.
The Rochester native and University of Michigan commit went undrafted last summer in his first year of draft eligibility. When the midterm rankings came out last week, Haskins had mixed emotions about the number next to his name — 113. That put him squarely in the middle of the 227 North American skaters that Central Scouting listed.
The 6-foot, 170-pound forward for the United States Hockey League’s Madison Capitols was certainly appreciative of being on the list with some of the world’s most talented players. He also decided immediately to use the middle-of-the-pack ranking as motivation.
“Obviously it gives you a lot of confidence to see your name on those lists,” Haskins said. “Then you just want to go to work to put yourself higher on that list.
“(Capitols) coach (Tom Upton) called me in his room — I saw that I am (No.) 113 on the list — and I told him I’m hungry and have things to prove. I know I can move up, but it’s a blessing just to be on the list.”
Haskins has another opportunity today to impress pro scouts and to perhaps climb Central Scouting’s list, when he plays in the BioSteel All-American Game at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. The game — featuring 44 of the top NHL Draft-eligible players who currently play in the USHL — is set to begin at 3 p.m. and will air on NHL Network.
Rochester will be well represented, as former Mayo High School star forward Maddox Fleming — who plays for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede — will play on Team White. Haskins will play on Team Blue.
“You never want to get too high,” Haskins said. “... the lesson I’ve always tried to teach myself is, there’s always something I have to work on and I need to stay humble.”
Haskins has never been afraid to chase his dream — not just getting drafted, but eventually playing in the NHL — and he hasn’t been afraid to go down whatever he thought the best path would be to accomplish that goal.
That in mind, Haskins decided to forego the path that his siblings paved — older brothers Logan and Connor, and sister Brooke — played sports at Mayo High School. Logan went on to play for the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League and then at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Tyler’s path wasn’t better or worse, but it was different. He decided to leave home at age 13 to play for the storied Chicago Mission AAA program. He spent four seasons with Mission, playing on its 16U team his final two years (2018-20).
“I just felt like, for me specifically, Mission was the place I wanted to be,” Tyler said. “I had gone there over a summer, met a lot of the kids and loved being with them. I felt like I clicked with the team and the staff. I felt like for me, my route was to go that way.”
It couldn’t have worked out better.
He committed to Michigan in March of 2018 at age 14. He signed his National Letter of Intent three-and-a-half years later, on Nov. 19, 2021.
That came after the COVID-19 pandemic — and after the Capitols decided to pause operations for the entire 2020-21 season. Haskins played last season in Sioux Falls — he spent nine straight months there, not visiting home until the season was over — then returned to Madison this season when his USHL rights reverted to the Capitols.
“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the past two years, with COVID and everything going on,” Haskins said, “is I’m blessed just to have a team to play on and to be able to play.
“When Madison shut down, Sioux Falls took a chance on me. They hadn’t seen me play. They took a chance and brought me to camp. I had to start fresh with that staff.”
Again, Haskins earned his ice time with the Stampede, recording nine goals and 27 points in 51 games as a 17-year-old.
This season, his game has continued to grow. He has 21 points through 23 games with Madison and has every intention of getting better and better.
“I’ve learned that you have to work for everything you get,” he said. “When you get to junior hockey, it’s a business, and if you don’t earn it, you’re not going to play. You may not have a lot of people on your side sometimes, but you have to stick with it.”
That’s the same mindset that Haskins hopes will help him lead the Capitols (16-15-2, fourth place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference) on a deep USHL playoff run, and will help him hear his name in July at the 2022 NHL Draft.
“At main camp coming into this year, the coaches really made it a thing that they expect me night-in and night-out to be the top player on the team,” Haskins said. “That’s been really driving me. I want to prove that I am a top player in this league. Confidence-wise it was really good to hear that they have high standards and expectations.
“I’m big on being pushed. I like to hear what I’m doing wrong, have them critique my game. That was the biggest thing I could’ve heard, that they have confidence in me.”