NCAA 2010 draft review

By DJ Powers

The 2010 NHL Entry Draft was considered one of the deepest in recent years and it also turned out to be one of the best for the NCAA in recent years as well. Of the 210 players taken 60 (nearly 30 percent) were either current or future collegians.

Every organization except for the New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes and the Toronto Maple Leafs took at least one current or future collegian. The Florida Panthers led all NHL teams with six, followed by the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks with four apiece.

Half of the 58 NCAA schools representing all five conferences had at least one player taken. The University of Minnesota and the University of North Dakota led all NCAA teams with six players chosen, followed by the University of Notre Dame with five. The WCHA were the big winners with 26 of the 60 players chosen.

While most of the collegians were taken in the seventh round (13), this year’s draft also saw nine current and future collegians taken in the first round – the most since 2007 when 11 were taken.

Colorado College-bound center Jaden Schwartz was the first collegian taken when St. Louis took him with the 14th overall pick. Host Los Angeles jumped up to the 15th spot to grab University of North Dakota-bound defenseman Derek Forbort, much to the delight of the Kings faithful in attendance.

One of the biggest (and loudest) receptions came five picks later (20th overall) when local boy and University of Denver-bound forward Beau Bennett was taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bennett, who hails from Gardena, is not the first California-born player selected in the NHL Draft bound for Denver. Rhett Rakhshani, a 2006 selection of the New York Islanders preceded him. And as Bennett explains, Rakhshani has become a role model for him as well.

“I’ve talked to Rhett a little bit. He walked me around when I was there for my visit. He’s definitely a guy that I look up to. He’s a great person both on the ice and off the ice. I hope that I can slot in his position. It’s big shoes to fill (at Denver), but I hope to do so in the next couple of years.”

While the Draft always holds a few surprises, two notable players who fell in the draft were Minnesota State-Mankato center Tyler Pitlick and University of Michigan-bound defenseman Jonathon Merrill. Both players were expected to go in the first round, but were not taken until the second. Pitlick, who will be playing for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers next season, was the first player taken on the second day, taken 31st by the Edmonton Oilers. Merrill was taken 38th overall when the New Jersey Devils selected him. He joins center David Wohlberg and defenseman Brandon Burlon as Devils draft selections that will be donning the maize and blue this fall.

One rarity in the Draft occurred in the seventh round, when the Florida Panthers selected Sacred Heart University-bound defenseman R.J. Boyd with the 183rd pick. Sacred Heart, which plays in Atlantic Hockey – a league not noted for having drafted players, has not had a player selected in the Draft since goaltender Jason Smith was selected by the New Jersey Devils in 2003.

Another school that isn’t known for many draft selections is Quinnipiac University. This year, the Bobcats saw one of their incoming recruits in LW Kellen Jones chosen. Jones was taken in the seventh round (202nd overall) by the Edmonton Oilers. He was also the first Quinnipiac player taken in the draft since goaltender Dan McGann was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2005.

Several of the collegians taken also have great bloodlines. One example is towering Notre Dame-bound defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round (22nd overall). Tinordi is the son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi. The younger Tinordi’s style is not all that different from his father’s.

So what can Montreal fans expect to see out of Tinordi in the future?

“I think I’ll be able to bring some size to the blueline, along with some grit and toughness in the corners and in front of the net. I think I can bring an element of leadership to the team as well, so it’s should be exciting. My father was happy with my decision to go Notre Dame and has been supporting me on it, so it’s good.”

The draft also saw players taken that were uncommitted. One example was Detroit Lakes, MN high school center Tanner Lane, who was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the sixth round (160th overall). According to Thrashers US Scout Tavis MacMillan, Lane is expected to announce his college commitment in the coming months.

Two current and two former collegians saw their NHL rights traded on the second day of the Draft. Reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago continued to stockpile their group of collegiate prospects when they acquired current Boston College Eagle Jimmy Hayes from Toronto. The Maple Leafs in return got the Blackhawks 43rd pick, taking Portland Winterhawks LW Bradley Ross. The Edmonton Oilers traded the rights to Harvard sniper Riley Nash to Carolina in exchange for the Hurricanes 46th pick, which they used to take Slovakian defenseman Martin Marincin. Former Michigan Wolverine Mike Brown was shipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs by Anaheim. The Ducks received the Maple Leafs’ 122nd pick, using it to select Colgate University-bound RW Chris Wagner. Former Bowling Green standout Jonathan Matsumoto saw his rights traded to the Carolina Hurricanes by Philadelphia. The Flyers used the 206th pick that they acquired in return to select Swedish defenseman Ricard Blidstrand.

Looking ahead

Omaha Lancers power forward RW Seth Ambroz is the early top ranked collegian (current or future) for the 2011 NHL Draft. Ambroz has verbally committed to the University of Minnesota for the fall of 2011.