The Corpus Christi IceRays head into the 2011 NAHL Entry Draft in a much different position than their first draft foray a year ago. They’re prepared.
“Last year we didn’t have much to go on,” said General Manager Pat Dunn. “There was not much carryover recruiting from when we purchased the team and we didn’t have any time to scout players.”
The preparation for the 2011 draft will come to fruition on Thursday at 1 PM when Corpus Christi makes their first draft pick, 7th overall. In all, the team will make six draft picks in order to reach the NAHL maximum initial roster of 30. The team announced that it has protected 15 veterans from last year’s team and signed 9 tenders for a total of 24 players.
To say that the hockey operations staff is in a much better place this season would be an understatement.
“We’re excited for the draft as we’ve been working hard putting together a game plan for a while now,” assistant coach Justin Quenneville, who also oversees all hockey operations, said. “Our Director of Scouting Ryan Bennett has done a great job of scouting players throughout the season, and the draft will allow us to pick players that we have interest in and players that may have been overlooked from other clubs as well.”
Instead of looking to create a roster from the draft as they did last year, the staff will be strengthening the unit. Of last year’s draft class, only Joey Parizek made the team. This year’s draft class will consist of players identified by the scouting and coaching staff who could fill roles for next season. With the expected loss of the team’s two leading scorers and two of their top defenseman, the draft allows the team to reload.
It will be a crazy and hectic scene behind closed doors at the American Bank Center Thursday.
“All in all the draft on Thursday will comprise of a crammed office with the team's hockey staff, several computer monitors, lots of paperwork, strategy grids, and a big 6 foot white board with a lot of talented hockey players names on it,” joked Quenneville. “Hopefully we get to pick the ones that are available when it comes to our pick.”
Fans can follow along with the draft through many different outlets. To view the actual draft, visit www.nahldraft.com. In addition, the team will have live updates on their Facebook (www.facebook.com/corpuschristiicerays) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/goicerays) with all the happenings from inside the war room. Late Thursday night, the team will have a more comprehensive draft analysis and reaction from those involved.