2017 NAHL DRAFT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

BY: COLLIN SCHUCK
June 5, 2017

After a very brief breather from the end of a thrilling season, the Corpus Christi IceRays have already begun preparations for the 2017-18 season with two tryout camps ahead of tomorrow’s 2017 NAHL Draft. To get you caught up on the format and forecast, let’s take a small peek at what to expect.

The NAHL Draft is a maximum 30-round process that helps retool all 23 teams in the NAHL for the upcoming season. Much like the USHL and other junior leagues, there is no fixated number of rounds like professional drafts, only the number of rounds it takes for a team to reach 30 players combining protected lists, tenders, and the players drafted. Without an expansion team vying for players, this year’s draft will figure to be much shorter than previous seasons without a team needing all 30 possible rounds to fill their protected list.

Players that are 20 years old or younger on December 31, 2017 and have played less than ten (10) NAHL games in the 2016-17 season are eligible for the draft. This means that players that are born in 1997 or younger are eligible. For perspective, players like Mason Krueger and Brad Power, who were born in 1996, would not be eligible for drafting if they were looking to continue their junior careers and had not been on a NAHL roster the previous year. On the other hand, if a player like David Thomson, who was born in 1997, had not played more than 10 games last year, then he could be drafted by an organization.

Draft order is determined by the final league standings for the 2016-17 regular season. Unlike the NHL Entry Draft, a team’s success in the NAHL Playoffs does not determine draft placement, meaning that the regular season standings are what is looked to for order of selections. For instance, even though the Shreveport Mudbugs were swept in the opening round of the playoffs by the IceRays, they will pick behind Corpus Christi because they finished three points higher at the end of the regular season.

The draft order lists as follows, with South Division teams labeled with an asterisk:

1. Northeast Generals
2. Kenai River Brown Bears
3. Topeka RoadRunners*
4. Amarillo Bulls*
5. Austin Bruins
6. Bismarck Bobcats
7. Springfield Jr. Blues
8. Odessa Jackalopes*
9. Coulee Region Chill
10. Aberdeen Wings
11. Brookings Blizzard
12. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
13. Minnesota Magicians
14. Fairbanks Ice Dogs
15. Minnesota Wilderness
16. New Jersey Titans
17. Corpus Christi IceRays*
18. Shreveport Mudbugs*
19. Minot Minotauros
20. Johnstown Tomahawks
21. Janesville Jets
22. Lone Star Brahmas*
23. Aston Rebels 

Coming off a historic 2016-17 campaign and one of the best seasons in franchise history, the IceRays will select 17th in this year’s draft, which is the farthest back they’ve started since joining the NAHL and surpasses the 14th selection in 2015. The IceRays will have seven available picks entering the draft after 11 tender signings and 12 players protected from last year’s 30-man list. The hours leading up to and during the draft will present opportunities for teams to make trades and jockey for better positioning or players. The IceRays are no stranger to draft day deals. Last year, they traded the ninth overall selection to the New Jersey Titans in exchange for the 64th, 75th and 136th overall selections in the hours prior to the draft to fill necessary holes in round selections. Those picks became Logan Getro, David Baskerville and Tomáš Vomáčka.

The IceRays made eight selections in the 2016 NAHL Draft, and five of those players not only stayed the entire season but were impact players. Forward David Thomson (41st overall) and defenseman Logan Gestro (64th overall) were both named to Team South at the 2017 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament with Thomson finishing the year third in scoring (42 points) and Gestro committing to Canisius College. Forward David Baskerville (75th overall) was named the 2017 IceRays Unsung Hero and blocked nearly 100 shots while taking on a leadership role, and forward Josh Tripp finished fourth in scoring with 40 points while staying on the top unit for most of the season. The steal of the draft was goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka (136th overall), who was named 2017 IceRays Most Valuable Player, South Division Goaltender of the Year and 2017 NAHL All-Rookie Team Honors en route to the best statistical performance in junior franchise history and 14th on the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings.

Coverage of the 2017 NAHL Draft begins Tuesday, June 6 at 12:45 p.m. on www.HockeyTV.com with live broadcast coverage provided by NAHL Director of Communications Alex Kyrias with the draft officially commencing at 1:00 p.m. All selections can also be seen live on www.NAHL.com for all 23 teams. The IceRays will have exclusive content and selections on Twitter (@goicerays) including every, information on each selection, and reactions. A full recap of the NAHL Draft will be released following the conclusion of the day’s events.

Collin Schuck is the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Corpus Christi IceRays. He can be contacted at cschuck@goicerays.com or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.