Six players with NAHL ties selected in NHL Draft
June 28, 2014
2014 NHL Draft, Day 2, Rounds 2-7
By Alex Kyrias, Director of Communications-NAHL/NAPHL/NA3HL
In exploring the floor of the NHL Draft prior to Day 2 (the busy day), it is interesting to note that every NHL club had meetings until 1-2am discussing their potential moves on Day 2 on Saturday. After all, this is where the gems are found and teams are built. Yes, Day 1 has that potential ‘superstar’ quality, but Day 2 is really a testament to the amount of work the NHL Scouts have put in the last 10 months.
I found myself next to NHL brass like Mike Babcock (Detroit Red Wings head coach), Glen Sather (New York Rangers GM) and new Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall, who I really liked watching as a kid growing up. Hextall played with passion in goal and I am sure he will bring that same quality to a Flyers team and fan base that is starved for a Stanley Cup.
Any intimidation by such big names is turned immediately into a level of comfort because instead of talking about the next big draft deal or salary cap move, these NHL bigwigs were telling hockey stories. It is a common theme when hockey guys get together, no matter the setting.
It didn’t take long for the first player from the three leagues to come off the board in former NAPHL goaltender Thatcher Demko, who went in the 2nd round (#36 overall) to the Vancouver Canucks. Demko played in the NAPHL during the 2010-11 season for the California Titans 16U team.
Demko wrote about his experience on NHL.com: You don't really know when you're going to get called. Some mock drafts, they say he's going first round, he's going second round. At the end of the day, guys have slid further. I've seen crazier things happen at the draft. You don't really know what to expect. We got up this morning and came back to the building early and got back to our seats. I was a little more nervous today, but at least I didn't have to wait long. I wasn't really expecting it when the Canucks picked me. I was checking my phone, texting someone and I heard Boston College, looked around, stood up and hugged my parents. It was pretty surreal. I went down to the Vancouver table and met all the people, shook all their hands. They seemed pretty happy. But not as happy as I am. It's a great spot for me. I put the jersey on and then they went in the back and made me a jersey with my name on the back of it. Just seeing my name on the back of an NHL jersey ... wow. I'm not there yet by any means but seeing that, you can't really put it into words.
That was immediately followed by the selection of former NA3HL goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic with the next pick at #37 overall in the 2nd round by the Carolina Hurricanes. The pick landed the Canes the Ontario Hockey League’s goaltender of the year in 2013-14 and helps to shore up the organizational depth in the crease. Nedeljkovic played a portion of the 2012-13 season with the Metro Jets in the NA3HL.
“Alex is an athletic goaltender. He’s very quick. He’s very smart, and he understands the game very well,” MacDonald said. “We’re pretty pleased that we’ve added another quality goaltender to our [group],” said Tony MacDonald, Director of Amateur Scouting for the Hurricanes.
Next up came the selection of forward Alex Schoenborn, who is both an NAHL alumni and a NAPHL alumni, having played for the Wenatchee Wild and Omaha AAA hockey club. Schoenborn was selected with the 72nd overall pick in the 3rd round by the San Jose Sharks.
Former Springfield Jr. Blues and Texas Tornado forward Matt Iacopelli was also selected in the 3rd round, going 83rd overall to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Another alumni of the NAPHL, Josh Wesley, was the next player to be selected as the former Carolina Jr. Hurricanes defenseman went in the 4th round, 96th overall to his hometown Carolina Hurricanes. Wesley, who played in the NAPHL during the 2011-12 season, is the son of former NHL’er Glen Wesley.
“I’m so blessed to have this jersey on right now,” Wesley said with an inerasable smile on his face. “Growing up, this was my favorite team to watch. I had Hurricanes stuff.”
“I interviewed Josh myself in Toronto and found him to be an outstanding young man,” said Tony MacDonald, Director of Amateur Scouting for the Hurricanes. “He’s a fine man with some good physical tools. He’s growing and developing as a player.”
The NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings had two alumni selected next as former goalie Zach Nagelvoort, who also played with the Soo Eagles, Traverse City North Stars and Kalamazoo Jr. Wings, went #111 overall in the 4th round to the Edmonton Oilers. Nagelvoort just completed his first season playing for the University of Michigan.
“He was a little bit of a late developer coming out of the North American Hockey League,” Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor said. “He’s a goaltender who had a tremendous freshman year at Michigan. I think he had an almost .930 save percentage. They were a middle-of-the-road team but he got them in the playoffs. We look at him as a goaltender that will continue to advance with good training and initiative.”
Former Wings defenseman Steven Johnson, who also played with the club during the 2012-13 season like Nagelvoort, was selected with the final pick in the 4th round (#120 overall) by the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
The 4th former NAPHL player was selected in the 5th round as with the 133rd overall pick the Arizona Coyotes selected former Pursuit of Excellence defenseman Dysin Mayo. Mayo played in the NAPHL during the 2011-12 season.
The highest ranked current NAHL goalie Chase Perry was then selected in the 5th round (#136 overall) by the Detroit Red Wings. It capped off a great season for Perry, who also played in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in February. Scouts have said that the Andover, MN, native possesses very good technique and uses his edges well to stop and change direction. He has some issues to work on, which the Red Wings hope can be addressed over the next couple of seasons at Colorado College, where he committed to play during this season with the Wild in the NAHL.
“Goaltenders need to develop, they need to be coached,” said Tyler Wright, Director of Amateur Scouting for the Red Wings. “He’s a big kid, an athletic kid, so hopefully we can start molding these guys in the right direction.”
The final player with NAHL ties selected was forward Kyle Schempp, who just completed his freshman season at NAHL-friendly Ferris State. Schempp, who played in the NAHL during the 2011-12 season for the Traverse City North Stars, was selected #155 overall in the 6th round by the New York Islanders.
All in all, six players with NAHL ties, four from the NAPHL and one from the NA3HL were selected on Day 2, a definite feather in the cap for the three leagues.