Saturday, June 25, 2011

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Part I: Other Leagues Thread

This will be the first of three posts on the NHL Entry Draft today. 61 current and/or future collegians were selected over the last two days by NHL teams. In part I, we'll look at the draft list of some of the teams Harvard will face in non-conference play. In part II, we'll look at the ECAC draftees. In part III, we'll take a look at Harvard's 4 draftees.

Edited the next paragraph for clarity and because I jumbled things between Gaudreau and Haar.

Northeastern University - Granted the Huskies aren't guaranteed to be a non-conference opponent but Harvard's local Beanpot rival had a good day at the draft. Jamie Oleksiak, the Huskies' towering rising-sophomore, became the first NCAA player selected, going 14th overall to the Dallas Stars. At 6'7" and 241 lbs., Oleksiak draws quick comparisons to Bruins' captain Zdeno Chara. There might be some nerves on Huntington Ave. about whether or not Oleksiak returns to Matthews Arena with reports that the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL will make a push to sign him (CHN). After seeing Oleksiak become the highest-drafted Husky in school history, Northeastern fans had to wait until the 104th spot when incoming freshman John Gaudreau went to the Calgary Flames. The Dubuque Fighting Saints forward put up 36 goals and 36 assists in 60 games on the way to becoming the USHL rookie of the year. Gaudreau will likely spend a lot of time in the weight room at Northeastern (edit- or whatever college he goes to); the future Husky is 5'6" and only 141 lbs. so could stand to add some bulk in order to get into NHL shape over the next few years. Gaudreau told Ryan Clark that he will decide in the next 48 hours as to whether or not he attends Northeastern. Clark is now reporting that Calgary Flames director of scouting Tod Button had told radio station Fan 960 that Clark will not attend Northeastern, nor will he be in the USHL next year, and that he is looking at two other schools. This is due to the departure of Greg Cronin, reportedly. Finally, the Huskies saw incoming freshman Garrett Haar go 207th overall to the Washington Capitals. CSN Washington claims Haar will stay despite Greg Cronin's departure. The defenseman amassed 23 points in 51 games for the Fargo Force of the USHL. At 6 foot and 193 lbs., he should add to an already intimidating blue line.

Boston University - Harvard will face the Terriers twice this season, including the Beanpot opener, and Jack Parker's program had a good draft weekend despite not having a Terrier go in the first round for the first time since 2009. Defenseman Adam Clendening was drafted not far after though, going 36th overall to the Chicago Blackhawks. Matthew Nieto joined Clendening as a second rounder, as the left winger went 47th overall to the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks, of course, took Nieto's classmate Charlie Coyle last season, but there will be no reunion after college as Coyle was sent to the Minnesota Wild along with Devin Setoguchi for defenseman Brent Burns. Rounding out Boston University's draft day was the selection of Garrett Noonan by the Nashville Predators at 112th overall. BU looks to have a small recruiting class coming in, so it's perhaps unsurprising that all three of the Terrier draft picks are rising sophomores.

North Dakota - The Crimson will get an up close and personal look at two of the top collegians in the draft when they head west to play the Fighting Sioux (or whatever North Dakota is called by then) at the end of 2011. At 15th overall, North Dakota recruit J.T. Miller became the first incoming NCAA player selected at the Entry Draft when he was grabbed by the New York Rangers. Miller was ranked 23rd by the CSS' final rankings but the Rangers liked what they saw, comparing Miller to Mike Richards and Brandon Dubinski (NY Times). The same article might cause some worries for UND fans though about Miller ever suiting up for them- Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark supposedly hinted at trying to convince Miller to sign a pro contract and forgo the NCAA. Miller's USNTDP and future Sioux teammate Rocco Grimaldi had a shot at the first round, but his size (and possibly his faith, according to Yahoo Sports) saw him drop into the second round, where he was snapped up early with the 33rd pick, going to the Florida Panthers. The diminutive winger is only 5'6" but has a very good shot at being a Brian Gionta or Martin St. Louis type player, especially at the college level. Finishing the UND day at the draft was rising sophomore Dillon Simpson's selection at 92nd by his hometown Edmonton Oilers, the team where his father Chris Simpson won two Stanley Cups during his 10 year NHL career. At 6'2" and 205 lbs., Simpson is a physical presence but being a 4th round pick indicates that teams saw him as a bit of a project, meaning he'll likely be honing his game at North Dakota for at least another year.

Harvard's other non-conference opponents, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and (potentially) Boston College did not see anyone go on draft day. In neighboring Hockey East, Vermont commit Michael Paliotta went 70th overall to Chicago and UMass-Lowell's Scott Wilson was the last collegian picked, going 209th to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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