It started as a day of uncertainty for UND.
It ended as another banner day at the NHL Draft.
UND had six recruits selected on Sunday afternoon — more than any other NCAA program. Adam Tambellini (New York Rangers) and Keaton Thompson (Anaheim Ducks) went in the third round. Tucker Poolman (Winnipeg Jets), Luke Johnson (Chicago Blackhawks) and Gage Ausmus (San Jose Sharks) went in the fifth round. And Wade Murphy finished it off by going in the seventh round (Nashville Predators).
So, all four players who were ranked by Central Scouting ended up getting picked, and two guys who weren’t ranked (Poolman, Murphy) also got selected.
UND’s six picks led the way, followed by Michigan’s five and Minnesota and Boston College’s four.
UND fans are concerned, and rightfully so, about Tambellini’s selection by the New York Rangers. It was just two summers ago that J.T. Miller bailed on his commitment to go to the OHL soon after the Rangers picked him.
But this situation is different. Tambellini isn’t a first-round pick that the Rangers want to rush to the NHL. And even if a GM encourages the WHL route, there’s another another GM who Tambellini is much more likely to listen to (his dad) who obviously supports the college route.
One of the most intriguing selections was Poolman.
Just two years ago — the first time he was draft eligible — he graduated from East Grand Forks and was looking for places to play. He had to try out for one USHL team and three NAHL teams before finding a place to play. He went to Texas. He couldn’t have been further from NHL teams’ rosters.
But he kept working hard, grew a couple of inches and developed at a great rate. Now, he’s an NHL draft pick and he has a scholarship lined up at UND. It has to be an encouraging story for many.
Poolman will most likely play for Omaha in the USHL this season.
Another interesting story is that of Johnson.
A year ago, he was being talked about as a possible first- or second-round pick. When I talked to him tonight, Johnson was critical of the season he had with Lincoln in the USHL and he said he was highly motivated to have a big year and help UND get to Philly.
Johnson possesses the skills that could earn him a spot on UND’s power play from the start. UND coach Dave Hakstol told College Hockey Inc., that he expects Johnson to step into a key role right away. Johnson sounds like he’s up for the challenge.
Murphy was another player that was not ranked, but Hakstol told College Hockey Inc., that he could be ready for the NHL after four years of college, much like Corban Knight. Hakstol called Murphy a “complete player.”
Murphy started the season in Penticton on a torrid pace and slowed down a little bit at the end. Obviously, his play caught the attention of the Preds, though.