The 2013 NHL Draft is complete and the draftniks are already beginning to look ahead to the next. It could be a pretty good one for UND prospects.
UND’s strong class of 1996-born players showed up on NHL Central Scouting’s list of top players to watch last week.
Central Scouting’s list details players that they believe have a shot at going in the top three rounds of the draft.
UND recruits Nick Schmaltz, Austin Poganski, Chris Wilkie and Shane Gersich all made the list.
Recent commit Ryan Gropp is a late ’96, so he’s not draft eligible until 2015. Defenseman commit Ryan Mantha did not make the list, but has an opportunity to play himself onto that list this season.
Most of these players are scheduled to come in for 2014. It’s shaping up to be a very good class.
Former UND star Drew Stafford has been talked about as a trade possibility for the Buffalo Sabres. However, if he doesn’t get traded, Grantland believes he will be the next captain.
UND had four captains in the NHL last season – Jonathan Toews wore the ‘C’ for the Chicago Blackhawks, while Stafford (Sabres), Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild) and Matt Greene (Los Angeles Kings) all wore an ‘A’.
Ilya Kovalchuk shockingly retired from the New Jersey Devils last week. That means UND’s Travis Zajac is now the highest-paid player on the team.
Three former Sioux are now the highest-paid players on their NHL teams: Zajac, Parise and Toews.
The Omaha World Herald reports that the Mavs have cut goaltender Dayn Belfour, son of former Sioux great Ed Belfour.
Dayn played in both games against UND last season. He started the indoor game and played very well, allowing just two goals on 36 shots. He came in relief during the outdoor game after starter John Faulkner allowed three goals in 10:32.
This means Omaha is going with three goaltenders this season. Coach Dean Blais has used four, at times, during his coaching career.
It’s been a tough start to the NCHC for Western Michigan. A few days after losing star recruit Michael McCarron to the OHL, steady defenseman Garrett Haar (who was going to be academically ineligible for the first semester) left school.
WMU coach Andy Murray said they went through great lengths to get Haar on track, including having people walk him to class.
Denver was originally scheduled to bring goalie recruit Evan Cowley to campus in 2014, but the Pios are speeding up the timeline and bringing him in this season.
Cowley is coming straight from the NAHL. He was drafted in the third round, No. 92 overall, by the Florida Panthers in this year’s draft. Interesting note: Denver’s other goalie, senior Sam Brittain, also was drafted in the third round, No. 92 overall by the Florida Panthers.
Brittain and Cowley will be DU’s top goalies. Freshman Greg Ogard from the EJHL appears to be DU’s third goalie this season.
Nebraska Omaha dipped into the Division III rankings to grab a new assistant coach. Alex Todd was hired to join the staff that includes Blais and Troy Jutting. Todd replaces Steve Johnson.
Warroad forward Jared Bethune, who is uncommitted, has been named to the U.S. Under-17 Select team that will compete in Slovakia next month. Bethune is a 1997-born player who will be a junior next season.
Colorado Springs Gazette writer Joe Paisley suggests the NCHC should hold a tournament in Las Vegas over the holidays. This is an idea that I think we can all get behind. He even suggests that UND be in it to get the fans there. I’m pretty sure the crew that we saw in Omaha would fully embrace a winter road trip to Vegas.
Lastly, Rocco Grimaldi did an interview with the Florida Panthers during development camp. He knows UND will be young this upcoming season, but he says expectations don’t change. He’s aiming for a national title.