The 2011 NHL Entry Draft was undoubtedly a tough one for the hometown players.
For the first time in seven years, a Minnesota High School player was not selected in the first round of the Entry Draft and after 15 players were drafted out of Minnesota High School’s last season, the 11 players drafted this season was a bit of a let down for the hometown draft crowd that celebrated their high school heroes raucously when their names were called.
The lack of players to have their name called in the top 30 (or even top 60) picks really doesn’t show the talent coming out of the State of Hockey, as Minnesota saw many more of its native sons drafted after playing in the USHL or the NCAA, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t some talent coming from the high school level.
The Minnesota Wild made many splashes on day one of the draft, but they got the big cheer on day two of the draft, selecting Mario Lucia from Wayzata High School 60th overall, and even sending picks to their rival Vancouver Canucks to do so. The selection of Lucia was the lowest a Minnesota High School player had been drafted since the 2003 draft when Matt Smaby was drafted 41st overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lucia may have the best NHL career of all of the draft selections, as his body and game both seem built for the NHL, but only time will tell. He is expected to play in the BCHL for the Penticton Vees next season.
Next off the board was Steve Fogarty from Edina High School, as the New York Rangers selected him 72nd overall. Fogarty is a power forward all the way. He pushes players around the ice and he has the hands and hockey sense to get the dirty goals and play in tight. Fogarty is committed to the University of Notre Dame, following in the footsteps of former Edina teammate Anders Lee.
At 91st overall, the Florida Panthers selected Kyle Rau out of Eden Prairie High School. Rau won Minnesota’s most prestigious hockey award this past season, the Mr. Hockey Award. Rau was thought by many to have first-round talent, but his size dropped him down the draft board quickly. Considered by many to be the best stick handler in the State of Hockey this past season, Rau has committed to play at the University of Minnesota.
Next was Mike Reilly from Shattuck-St. Mary’s High School, who was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Reilly is a puck-moving defenseman with great offensive instincts who, like Rau, slid down the board because of his lack of size. He’s a great power-play quarterback and excels at decision making in tight situations. In addition, Reilly comes from a hockey-rich background, with his father being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1977 and his twin brothers playing in the USHL for the Sioux Falls Stampede. Reilly and his brothers are all committed to playing at the University of Minnesota next season.
After Reilly came Holy Angels High School’s Joseph Labate. Labate’s combination of size and skill make him a great catch at the 101st pick by the Vancouver Canucks. He plays a great physical game, but also has the ability to step it up and play the finesse game, skating around opposing defenders. Labate will be taking his cannon shot to the University of Wisconsin this coming season.
Back-to-back Minnesota High School players were selected in Round Five, the first of which was Tony Cameranesi from Wayzata High School being selected 130th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Cameranesi is a quick, tireless worker who is a natural scorer. Like many other Minnesota High School prospects, his size is a question mark, but his hockey sense and speed make him an intriguing prospect. At 131st overall, the Minnesota Wild got another cheer from the hometown crowd, selecting Nick Seeler out of Eden Prairie High School. Seeler is a two-way defenseman that can pinch into the offensive zone just as easily as shut down opposing scorers. His game has been described as "smart" and "mistake free," which is a good sign for a defenseman. Cameranesi is committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Seeler will play for the Muskegon Lumberjacks next season before heading to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Burnsville High School’s Ed Wittchow was next off the board, with the Florida Panthers taking him at 154th overall. Wittchow is big and he can skate and the most encouraging part for the Panthers is that he is a late bloomer. He’s continuing to make huge strides as he gets used to his big frame and could be the steal of the draft among the high school ranks. Wittchow has not committed anywhere yet, but is a Colorado College recruit.
The next selection was at 174th overall, when the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Josh Archibald from Brainerd High School. He’s a creative playmaker with a good shot to boot, but will need to bulk up considerably to succeed at the next level. Archibald is committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
The New Jersey Devils were the next to dip into the Minnesota High School ranks, selecting Benilde-St. Margaret High School’s Patrick Daly at 189th overall. Daly is a smooth-skating, defensive defenseman. A leg injury kept him off of the draft board in his first draft-eligible year (2010), but didn’t prevent him from having a solid senior season. Daly will be taking his talents to Madison, Wisconsin to play for the University of Wisconsin.
The final Minnesota High School player drafted was Edina High School product Max Everson, selected 203rd overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Everson is a solid defenseman that has the innate ability to force opposing forwards to the outside on the rush and is a tremendous worker. His positioning makes him a difficult player to beat offensively, but the physical aspect of his game could use a little work. Everson is committed to Harvard University in the fall.
Minnesota High Schools at the NHL Draft (by the numbers):
Minnesota H.S. Players drafted
60. Mario Lucia (Wayzata) – Minnesota Wild
72. Steven Fogarty (Edina) – New York Rangers
91. Kyle Rau (Eden Prairie) – Florida Panthers
98. Mike Reilly (Shattuck-St. Mary’s) – Columbus Blue Jackets
101. Joseph Labate (Holy Angels) – Vancouver Canucks
Notable Players Not Drafted:
Neal Goff, D, Stillwater
Tanner Sorensen, C, Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Peter Traber, G, Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Alex Lyon, G, Lake of the Woods
Players Selected (MN-HS team):
2. Edina, Wayzata, Eden Prairie
1. Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Burnsville, Brainerd, Holy Angels
Players Selected (NHL team):
Players Selected (position):
5 – Defenseman
4 – Center
1 – Left Wing
1 – Right Wing
0 – Goalie
Article was written by Blake Benzel.