Ducks, Kings, Sharks draft for the future in Buffalo
California’s three NHL teams started to build for the future and beyond June 24-25 at the annual NHL Draft, held this year in Buffalo, N.Y.
Just the Anaheim Ducks had a first-round pick (two, actually) and came away with London Knights (Ontario Hockey League) forward Max Jones at No. 24 and Regina Pats (Western Hockey League) forward Sam Steel with the 30th overall pick.
“It’s been a speechless last couple of months, winning the Memorial Cup and now getting drafted by Anaheim,” Jones said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to share with my family and friends. It’s awesome.”
The Ducks selected four additional players to conclude the draft. Beginning in the third round, the Ducks grabbed Red Deer Rebels (WHL) defenseman Joshua Mahura (85th overall), Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) forward Jack Kopacka (fourth round, 93rd overall), Gatineau Olympiques (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) forward Alex Dostie (fourth round, 115th overall) and Victoria Royals (WHL) forward Tyler Soy (seventh round, 205th overall).
“We are pleased with our draft it its entirety, including the addition of some solid prospects in the later rounds,” said Ducks director of professional and amateur scouting Martin Madden. “We were able to address some needs with respect to adding prospects at the forward position and look forward to developing all six players toward NHL careers.”
Los Angeles made four total selections, all on the second day, in rounds 2-7.
The Kings opened Day 2 of the draft by selecting defenseman Kale Clague from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL in the second round (51st overall). Clague helped lead the Wheat Kings to the WHL championship last year, posting 14 points, a plus-5 rating and eight penalty minutes in the playoffs.
Also taken by the Kings were defenseman Jacob Moverare (Sweden, fourth round, 112th overall), forward Mikey Eyssimont (St. Cloud State University, fifth round, 142nd overall) and defenseman Jacob Friend (OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, seventh round, 202nd overall).
This past season, Eyssimont posted 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 40 games at St. Cloud State. He also took home MVP honors at the North Star College Cup in January and again during the NCHC Frozen Faceoff in March while helping lead the Huskies to their first-ever NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship.
“Being drafted by an organization like L.A. is just unreal,” Friend said to the Owen Sound Sun Times. “They’ve won two Cups in the last five years and they’re a great organization. It wouldn’t have mattered to me who picked me, but to get picked by them is a complete honor.”
The Stanley Cup-finalist Sharks picked five players, starting with University of Denver (NCHC) stud freshman forward Dylan Gambrell, who went in the second round (60th overall).
Gambrell tallied 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists) in 41 games with the Pioneers, the 12th-best scoring total by a freshman in DU history. He was named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team, was a finalist for NCHC Rookie of the Year and also earned All-Tournament Honors at the NCAA West Regional.
In the fourth round (111th overall), San Jose selected forward Noah Gregor, who scored 28 goals in his first full season with the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL). Then in the fifth round with the 150th overall pick, the Sharks snagged German forward and 29-goal scorer Manuel Wiederer from the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL).
San Jose selected defenseman Mark Shoemaker from the North Bay Battalion (OHL) in the sixth round with pick No. 180. With their final selection of the draft in the seventh round (210th overall), the Sharks chose Swedish forward Joachim Blichfeld from the Malmo Jr. program.
In a draft weekend trade on June 25, Gardena native Beau Bennett was dealt from the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to the New Jersey Devils for a third-round pick (No. 77) in the draft.
The 2017 NHL Draft will be held in Chicago.
Steel photo/CHL Images
– Matt Mackinder