NAHL players ready for 2015 NHL Draft
June 26, 2015
The 2015 NHL Draft takes place this weekend on June 26-27 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida and will be hosted by the NHL’s Florida Panthers. The 1st round of the draft will take place on Friday, June 26 (7pm eastern, NBC Sports Network). Rounds 2-7 will be conducted on Saurday, June 27 (10am eastern, NHL Network).
Back in early April, the NHL Central Scouting final rankings were released for the 2015 NHL Draft and several NAHL players, both past and present, were on the list as players who could potentially be drafted in this weekend’s draft. All but one of the players with NAHL ties that are ranked are goalies.
NHL club executives, scouts and coaches will be present on the NHL Draft floor while more than 15,000 fans and 500 print, television and radio media are expected to attend.
A total of six players with NAHL ties were selected in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The NAHL has a rich history of players being selected in the NHL Draft that have been drafted right after playing the NAHL the seasons leading up to the draft. The highest draft pick from a non-USNTDP team came back in 1991 when Brian Rolston (Detroit Compuware) was drafted 11th overall in the 1st Round by the New Jersey Devils. The highest draft pick from the USNTDP team during their time in the NAHL was Erik Johnson, who went 1st overall to the St. Louis Blues in 2006.
Out of the hundreds of draft-eligible goalies currently playing in leagues across North America, four goalies that played in the NAHL during the 2014-15 season were ranked on the list. The list includes #5 Matej Tomek (Topeka RoadRunners), #22 Ryan Bednard (Johnstown Tomahawks), #23 Evan Smith (Austin Bruins) and #24 Austin Shaw (Wichita Falls Wildcats).
The list also includes former NAHL goaltenders #27 Logan Halladay (Janesville Jets, 2013-14), #29 Kris Oldham (Kenai River Brown Bears, 2013-14) and forwards Roope Hintz (Bismarck Bobcats, 2012-13) and Thomas Aldworth (Lone Star Brahmas, 2013-14).
Tomek will likely be the first NAHL player drafted. Depending on which scouting service you look at, Tomek is ranked from #1 to #7 for North American goalie. The Red Line Report ranked Tomek as their #1 goaltender.
Employing a butterfly style, Tomek is a goalie that makes calculated moves while efficiently utilizing all 6’3 of his frame. Of course, at 180 lbs. Tomek could certainly fill out his frame a bit more, but that will come with age and maturation as the young goalie still hasn’t finished growing. Staying at more or less the same draft rank (4th & 5th respectively on CSS’s midterm and final rankings) throughout 2015, Tomek has shown that he could play at a consistent level for the duration of a hockey season. Committing to the University of North Dakota for next season, Tomek will get a taste of NCAA play during the ’15-’16 campaign, and it certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if the Slovakian netminder continues to tear his way through North America en route to the NHL.
Johnstown Tomahawks goaltender Ryan Bednard could also hear his name called on draft day. He intends to follow his usual workout routine and visit with friends even though he is rated 22nd among North American goaltenders by NHL Central Scouting and is ranked 133rd by Hockeyprospect.com. One NHL mock draft has Bednard being selected in the fourth round by the Washington Capitals with the 113th pick overall.
"I’ll probably just approach it like any other day,” Bednard said of the draft. “I will get together with friends and go to their house and watch TV. I’ll hope for the best. If not, I will just keep working."?
At 6-foot-4, 179 pounds, Bednard joined the Tomahawks with impressive credentials and the label of a legitimate prospect. The native of Macomb, Michigan, was among 42 players invited to the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, New York, last September. The NHL Central Scouting Service put him on the 2015 preliminary players to watch list soon after.
Bednard went 16-16-5 with a 2.66 goals against average and .913 save percentage during the 2014-15 season.