What to watch for in the NHL Draft | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff file photo / Brian Yauger Phantoms forward Adam Ingram is expected to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft this weekend. He’s projected as high as the late first lap.

With the NHL season on the books, the hockey world turns to the offseason.

The first milestone of the offseason is the NHL Entry Draft.

This is usually my favorite time of year. I say typical because as someone who covers junior hockey, it’s fun to see the guys I’ve written about in the past being called out. This year, however, things are different.

The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, so I wasn’t as worried about the draft as I might have been in years past. I laughed, I cried, it was the most fun I’ve had as a hockey fan since watching the SteelHounds as a kid.

But enough about me, the season is over and now it’s the draft where 225 kids from around the world will take the first step toward their dream of making it big.

The NHL draft isn’t followed as heavily as some of the others. In fact, many people just turn it off. Given that there is a junior league team that produces NHL players, I thought it would be helpful to include a little guide on how the draft works for those who are interested but have no idea where to start.


The NHL draft is held each year, usually in June, and consists of players who are 18 years of age on or before September 15 and not older than 19 before December 31 of the draft year. European players are eligible up to the age of 21.

Players can be selected from numerous leagues worldwide, but players are primarily selected from North American junior leagues, with some players being selected from American colleges and European men’s leagues.

For example, in the 2015 draft, top pick Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) played for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, while second pick Jack Eichel (drafted by the Sabers) played for Boston University. Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche) was drafted 10th overall by the Liiga, the Finnish men’s league.

It differs from the NBA and NFL drafts, where many players are expected to contribute in the following season. Only a handful of players in the NHL draft make the team, let alone make a major contribution. Those who do are considered exceptional talents like McDavid or Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs).

These guys are usually at least a year away, sometimes longer. That’s why teams don’t design on demand. If your team desperately needs a left-footed defender, recruiting one that won’t be ready for a few years won’t help.

Most players remain in the junior league for the following season. Some get a short NHL-level tryout earlier in the year when they’re close to making it. The limit is set at nine games before it counts as a year towards the player’s three-year entry-level contract. So if a player reaches 10 games, they’re in for the season.

If that player is college-bound, that’s not an option due to NCAA rules. They can attend the summer rookie camps but again must cover all expenses minus the first 48 hours of their first camp due to NCAA rules. The camps are optional but highly recommended.

Montreal is hosting this year’s draft and holds the first overall pick after winning this year’s draft lottery. Most outlets rank OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs’ Shane Wright as the top contender overall, while Finnish club TPS’ Juraj Slafkovsky is almost unanimously second overall.


The Youngstown Phantoms are no strangers to the NHL Draft. Since their first USHL season in 2009-2010, the Phantoms have heard their name from several players, including Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor (Round 1, Pick 17, 2015) and New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (Round 2 , Pick 34, 2011). ).

The most senior Youngstown Phantom on the board this season is Adam Ingram, a forward likely to be selected in the second or third round.

Ingram is ranked 27th North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and 36th by Puck Authority. His lowest rank is 83rd from Craig Button.

Armed with a solid skillset, once Ingram builds more muscle at the collegiate level, he could develop into a solid middle six option for a team after a few seasons in college.

A native of West St. Paul, Manitoba, he interviewed 27 of the league’s 32 teams. Wherever he goes, this team will get a winger with a big shot. Ingram had 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) with the Phantoms last season.

Ingram tries to model his game after another former Phantom, namely All-Star and Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner Connor.

Phantoms co-GM Jason Deskins says Ingram is a unique talent but sees him as a slightly different player. One who also played for the Jets for a few years.

“He is a unique player. He’s a guy who can play in the middle, he can play the wall, he’s great on the cross on the power play when it’s going down.” said Deskins. “He has the ability to really see the puck. I think if you look at some of the guys in the league, he’s got a little bit of Evander Kane in him where he’s really capable of ripping up a puck and hitting a keeper clean.

“That’s the most popular name we’d like to use, but it has the ability to rip the puck. … I think Adam is a unique player because he’s big, he’s not even close to where he’s going to be over the next three or four years. I think his game will evolve from level to level, especially when he comes to St. Cloud State.”

There’s a good chance Ingram won’t be the only one named this weekend. Some players selected in the USHL Draft earlier this year are expected to be called up again.

Forward Matthew Perkins, who Phantom fans will meet this fall, is one of five players ranked by NHL Central Scouting. All of these names should hit the ice at least once this season at the Covelli Center.

Michael Fisher (No. 52), James Fisher (No. 99), Perkins (No. 106), Tyson Dyck (No. 110) and Reese Laubach (No. 192) are all in the rankings and have the opportunity to have their names called this weekend.

In addition to those names, Sweden defenseman Filip Nordberg is expected to make his way to the United States this season with the Phantoms after being selected in the Phase II draft. The 6-foot-4 left-handed defenseman is ranked in the early 100s worldwide (ranked 52nd internationally via NHL Central Scouting) and got his name out in the fourth round.

“He’s a defender who plays in all three zones, can play a power play but is also big and physical in his own zone.” said co-GM Ryan Kosecki after the USHL Phase II draft.

The Phantoms focus on pre- and post-draft development. Deskins and Kosecki have said their goal is to make Youngstown a premier youth destination, and the NHL draft is a great way to demonstrate that.

“We’re just super excited for Adam and the rest of our players, either potential or current, to be drafted.” said Kosecki. “We want to make this the best organization that develops great kids to be future NHL players.


Pittsburgh native Logan Cooley was part of the very first youth camp organized by Sidney Crosby in 2008. Now, 14 years later, Cooley Crosby will join the ranks of the first-round draft picks.

He doesn’t have to wait long either. Experts say he won’t go below third place, where Arizona is a likely landing spot for Cooley.

Though the Coyotes have many needs, Cooley will still be wintering at the University of Minnesota. Depending on his season and what he shows at the college level, Cooley could potentially have one “One and done.”

For those looking for a player comparison, Cooley models his game after Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.

Assuming he goes past 15th place, Cooley will be the highest-picked Pittsburgher in NHL draft history.


Columbus has two first-round picks in the top 15 this season and can make a splash. Cutter Gauthier of the United States National Team Development Program is a name often thrown around for the Blue Jackets in sixth overall. The Blue Jackets also have the 12th overall pick.

They also pick 44th overall (second round), 96th overall (third round), 109th overall (fourth round), and 203rd overall (seventh round).

Pittsburgh, which often trades first-round picks, has a selection of the No. 21 pick this year. With an aging Crosby and rumors that Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are going free, Pittsburgh faithful may have to look forward to a rebuild prepare. But who knows with the penguins? As long as Crosby is around, Pittsburgh will always try to find a way to be a playoff team.

Don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh does something exciting on the draft floor again.

Possible options for Pittsburgh at pick #21 include Pavel Mintyukov, a left-footed defenseman from Saginaw (OHL), Denton Mateychuk, another left-footed defenseman from Moose Jaw (Western Hockey League), and Jimmy Snuggerud, a forward from the USNTDP.

Don’t take this as an actual prediction, just listing a few names that could potentially be around when the penguins choose.

Pittsburgh has four more picks in the later rounds. You vote at 118 (fourth round), 150 (fifth round), 182 (sixth round) and 214 (seventh round).

Day 1 of the NHL Draft is scheduled for Thursday, July 7th and Day 2 (Rounds 2-7) will take place on Friday.

Free agency time begins July 13 at 12:00 p.m.

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