Japan native Aito Iguchi selected in seventh round of USHL draft

Japanese phenom Aito Iguchi (Toru Hanai).

Aito Iguchi, considered by some to be Japan’s best hope yet at producing a bona fide NHL star, has been selected with the 104th overall pick in the United States Hockey League draft.

Iguchi, 15, spent the past year suiting up for both his junior high school and the Saitama Junior Warriors, but was faced with the decision of staying in Japan or making the move to North America to continue his development.

After rising to internet fame with a stickhandling video posted by Vancouver-based hockey training specialist Pavel Barber and competing in North American competitions, Iguchi drew praise from Rob Pulford — a longtime NHL scout who discovered players like Johnny Gaudreau and Clayton Keller.

“He’s a talented little player, there’s no doubt about that,” Pulford told Sportsnet earlier this year. “Obviously, his stickhandling is outstanding, his ability to control the puck — he’s got soft hands, a quick stick, he can really dazzle you with his puck skills. As a skater, really good quickness and agility, great edgework.”

The USHL is a 17-team junior hockey league consisting of players 20-year-old and younger.

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