10:39 a.m. - Good morning! Just as we did for the Futures Draft three weeks ago today, the Lumberjacks present this liveblog for the USHL Entry Draft, which begins today at 5 p.m. Eastern time. In addition to getting comprehensive information on the day's events here, you can follow constant updates on Twitter and Facebook this evening.
The Lumberjacks will choose second in every round, behind only the Sioux Falls Stampede, who finished last overall in the 2011-12 USHL standings. The No. 2 pick in the entire draft is clearly very valuable, as is the third selection, which Muskegon also possesses due to a February trade with the Des Moines Buccaneers. You may recall the deal, as it brought defenseman Mike Brodzinski (Minnesota) aboard in exchange for fellow blueliner Nick Seeler.
So with those back-to-back prime picks, the Jacks are in tremendous position to reinvent themselves in preparation for their third season in the United States Hockey League. Since each team must finish the day with 30 players on its active roster, Muskegon will draft a total of 15 players today, as they placed 15 veterans on their Initial Protected List.
For additional information on the intricacies of the USHL Entry Draft, check out last week's primer on MuskegonLumberjacks.com or visit USHL.com.
10:54 a.m. - You may remember from the Futures Draft liveblog (link above in the first paragraph) that Lumberjacks Owner/General Manager Josh Mervis sported, um, unique cuff links special for the day.
Well, today he's sporting an orange suit jacket to mix things up, a sartorial choice that an unnamed opposing broadcaster ridiculed several years ago when Josh was behind the bench for the USHL's Danville Wings. Undaunted, it's making its return today!
Normally an announcement of this kind wouldn't pique my interest, but Colin let me know that Rasmus, a 2011 Florida Panthers NHL Draft pick, had requested his nickname be embossed on each stick where a player's last name usually goes.
If you didn't know Bengtsson's alias, now you do: "DA MOOSE" will be back in Muskegon for June's Tryout Camp, with a dozen new shiny sticks in tow.
1:44 p.m. - Two years ago, the Lumberjacks were in the process of constructing their first USHL roster, and they couldn't have made a much better selection in the first round of the 2010 Entry Draft than Casey Thrush.
Muskegon snagged the Maryland native with the sixth overall pick, and after a 28-point season with the Jacks in 2010-11, Thrush went on to compile 12 points in 31 games this past season with the University of New Hampshire. (Listen to my interview with Casey on a recent edition of the Port City Podcast!)
|Thrush was Muskegon's first-ever|
Entry Draft selection
DeBlouw, a Michigan native, went on to score 40 points in 91 USHL games and is the 11th ranked league skater in this year's NHL Entry Draft class according to NHL Central Scouting. Bullock registered the eighth-most points among USHL defenseman this past season with 30, and his 10 goals placed him fifth.
3:25 p.m. - If you're wondering why the Entry Draft, which was initially scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Eastern time, has been bumped back to 5, look no further than the Waterloo Black Hawks.
If the Hawks hadn't won Game 4 of the Clark Cup Final Saturday night at Waterloo's Young Arena, the Green Bay Gamblers would have won the USHL's postseason crown for the second time in three years. But after Waterloo's down-to-the-wire 5-3 home victory, the best-of-five series is tied at two games apiece with the decisive Game 5 set for Wednesday night at Green Bay's Resch Center.
This scenario puts both competing teams in a bit of a conundrum, as they have to pour every ounce of energy into preparing for the season's ultimate contest, while their hockey operations folks split their attention to make solid decisions in the always-critical Entry Draft.
To help mitigate some of that conflict, the USHL pushed the Entry Draft back an hour to allow the Black Hawks and Gamblers to get their necessary practice time in prior to tomorrow's match-up. For more on the Clark Cup Final, including an interview with San Jose Sharks forward and former Waterloo star Joe Pavelski, check out yesterday's blog post!
3:45 p.m. - With 75 minutes to go before the action begins, keep in mind that the Lumberjacks will be quite busy during the first four rounds of the Entry Draft. Due to a pair of trades this season, Muskegon has both Des Moines' first-round pick (No. 3 overall) and Sioux Falls' fourth rounder (No. 46).
As explained above, Des Moines' selection arrived in the Brodzinski-Seeler swap, while the Jacks got Sioux Falls' spot when they dealt Travis Belohrad to the Stampede in mid-January. What will those trades yield? We'll find out soon!
5:15 p.m. - With back-to-back picks at Nos. 2 and 3 overall, the Lumberjacks chose right winger Adam Gilmour and center Connor Hurley, the top two players on the board according to Muskegon's hockey operations department.
"Adam is a high skill hockey player who makes teammates better," said Jacks Owner/General Manager Josh Mervis. "He has an incredible drive to get better."
Hurley just completed his sophomore year at Edina (Minn.) High School, where he scored 58 points (26 goals) in 30 matches. The 6-foot pivot is teammates with Lumberjacks first round Futures Draft pick Dylan Malmquist.
"He's a playmaking centerman with a very high degree of skill," said Muskegon Scout Chris LaCombe. "Connor is a real competitor and he can score goals."
5:24 p.m. - Muskegon turned its eyes across the Atlantic with its second-round pick, Frederik Tiffels from Germany. A 5-foot-11 left winger has played in the DNL junior league over the last two seasons for the Jungadler Mannheim Under-18 team, where he contributed 60 points - including 45 assists - in 72 matches.
"Frederick is extremely fast, the fastest skater in his league, and he has a ton of skill," said Lumberjacks Assistant Coach Dave Noel-Bernier. "He has a tremendous work ethic, too."
5:45 p.m. - With the second pick of the third round, the Jacks were pleased to add their second centerman of the draft, Ben Foster. Listed at 6-foot-1, he scored over 100 points at Choate Rosemary Hall prep in Connecticut, setting the school's all-time record.
"He plays hard all over the ice and he can make plays," said Assistant Coach Steve Palmer about Foster, who was named to the All-New England team this spring. "He's a big strong young man who plays smart in every zone."
6:06 p.m. - The Lumberjacks had back-to-back slots for the second time in the draft to start the fourth round, and they nabbed defenseman Dan O'Keefe and left winger Tyler Hill with picks 46 and 47.
O'Keefe, a New Jersey native, stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds. He also brings offensive ability to accompany his power, as he chipped in 21 points in 53 games this season for Philadelphia-area Team Comcast.
"Dan is an ideal two-way defenseman," Noel-Bernier said. "He makes a good first pass and is very hard to play against."
Muskegon added even more size with Hill, a 6-foot-6 power forward who skated for the Hotchkiss School (Conn.) as a sophomore. The Ontario product chipped in 16 points in 22 games in addition to bringing an impressive physical brand of hockey.
"Tyler is a highly-regarded candidate for the 2013 NHL Draft with a ton of potential," Noel-Bernier said.
"When he hits it hurts," Palmer said. "He's just an exceptional athlete. He has enormous potential because of his size."
Storm was a dynamo for the Calumet Copper Kings, burying 15 goals and 35 total points in 26 games while providing a consistent intimidating presence on the ice.
6:32 p.m. - Boston University recruit Doyle Somerby was Muskegon's sixth-round choice, another talent from the New England prep circuit.
"He's very comparable to Jaycob Megna," Noel-Bernier said about the former Lumberjack and current Nebraska-Omaha Maverick. "Doyle is a very good skater, very mobile. He's a big two-way defenseman."
Somerby is another huge addition to the Lumberjacks, quite literally. At 6-foot-5, he is the sixth six-footer out of Muskegon's first seven selections in the Entry Draft. Somerby just completed his senior season for Kimball Union Academy in Massachusetts.
6:56 p.m. - The Jacks had a great deal of success with Eden Prairie, Minn., native Ryan Bullock, and they went back to that well with their final pick of the Entry Draft's first phase, calling Steven Spinner's name in the seventh round.
"Steven is an energizing skill forward with a ton of speed," LaCombe said.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore scored 20 goals (30 points) in 24 games in the challenging Minnesota high school realm. Watch one of his goals here!
7:41 p.m. - As the Jacks roll into the second phase of the Entry Draft, I'm going to step away and work on our press release and web article. Thanks for reading and make sure to check MuskegonLumberjacks.com for the full draft class later tonight!