California quartet sees NHL dreams get closer to reality at 2023 NHL Draft
Four players with California ties are one step closer to the NHL.
Aiden Celebrini (San Jose Jr. Sharks), Sam Harris (San Diego native, San Diego Jr. Gulls, Anaheim Jr. Ducks), Ty Henricks (Mission Viejo, Jr. Ducks) and Jaden Lipinski (Jr. Ducks) were all drafted June 29 on Day 2 of the NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
In his final season of draft eligibility, Harris (pictured top) went in the fifth round (133rd overall) to the Montreal Canadiens.
An alternate captain during the 2022-23 season, Harris led the Stampede with 30 goals and 26 assists in 56 games during his second season with the Herd. During his career in Sioux Falls, Harris totalled 46 goals and 45 assists for 91 points. He also played in the World Junior A Challenge, netting two goals in six games, and the BioSteel All-American Game, where he scored a goal.
Harris will start his NCAA Division I career in 2023-24 at the University of Denver.
Lipinski was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round (112th overall) after a solid season with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.
This past season, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound center finished third on the Giants in scoring with 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) in 66 games, a 34-point improvement from his rookie season. His breakout 2022-23 campaign consisted of a team-leading five game-winning-goals, eight power-play goals (second on Vancouver) and a 51 percent clip in the face-off circle (460 wins).
The Arizona native was also named the Bublé Iron Man of the Year and Save-On-Foods High School Scholastic Player of the Year in 2022-23 with the Giants.
“The Vancouver Giants organization would like to congratulate Jaden and his family on his selection by the Calgary Flames in the NHL Draft,” Giants GM Barclay Parneta said. “His improvement from Day 1 to today speaks volumes to his work ethic and high upside. We look forward to working alongside the Flames to help further his development.”
Giants head coach Michael Dyck added that Lipinski just kept getting better and better as the season went on.
“He’s got the ability to finish around the net,” Dyck said. “Reliable both ways. Since he’s got to Vancouver, he has improved a lot.”
Lipinski was signed by the Giants in April of 2021, following a season in which he played for the Jr. Coyotes with current Giants teammate Colton Langkow. The right-shot forward has appeared in 134 career regular-season games for Vancouver, compiling 27 goals and 41 assists for 68 points. Additionally, he has played in 16 playoff games, registering four points (goal, three assists).
Celebrini was chosen in the sixth round, going 171st overall to the Vancouver Canucks.
A native of North Vancouver, B.C., Celebrini dressed in 47 games during the 2022-23 season, tallying 21 points (five goals, 16 assists). He finished eighth in AJHL rookie defenseman scoring and was named to Team Canada West at the 2022 World Junior A Challenge. In 15 AJHL playoff games, he had three assists. He added one assist in six games at the 2023 Centennial Cup, helping the Bandits win their fourth national championship.
Next season, Celebrini will suit up alongside his younger brother Macklin Celebrini, also a Jr. Sharks alum, at NCAA Division I Boston University. The younger Celebrini is expected to be a top pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
The New York Rangers used the 183rd overall pick in the sixth round to select Henricks. A mid-season pickup for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks from the Fargo Force, Henricks is a force to be reckoned with on the ice, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in north of 200 pounds.
Last season with Fargo and Muskegon, Henricks collected nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points in 47 games.
Henricks is committed to playing NCAA Division I college hockey at Western Michigan University.
— Matt Mackinder
Harris photo/Adam Thury Photography; Lipinski photo/Rob Wilton; Celebrini photo/Chad Goddard; Henricks photo/Muskegon Lumberjacks
(July 5, 2023)