June 9, 2015
As the page continues its turn to the 2015-16 season, the IceRays enter the next phase of the reloading process with the 2015 NAHL Draft this afternoon. Before the events get underway today, here are some items to keep in mind.
The NAHL Draft is a maximum 30-round process that helps retool all 22 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 today. Teams like the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, who are an expansion franchise, will need most of the available rounds to build their team from the ground up while most of the league will not need most selections.
Players that are 20 years old or younger on December 31, 2015 and have played less than ten (10) NAHL games in the 2014-15 season are eligible for the draft. This means that players that are born in 1995 or younger are eligible. For perspective, if Travis Howe had not played in the NAHL last season but was looking to play this season, he would not be eligible since he was born in 1994, thus outside of the parameters. However, if Brad LeLievre were in the same situation and looking to break in for the first time, he would be able to be drafted since he was born in 1995.
Draft order is determined by the final league standings for the 2014-15 regular season. Unlike the NHL Entry Draft, a team’s success in the NAHL Playoffs does not determine draft placement, meaning that even though the Minnesota Wilderness won the 2015 Robertson Cup, they will not pick last because they didn’t finish atop the NAHL at the end of the regular season.
The draft order lists as follows, with South Division teams labeled with an asterisk:
1. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (expansion)
2. Kenai River Brown Bears
3. Odessa Jackalopes*
4. Minnesota Magicians
5. Brookings Blizzard
6. Springfield Jr. Blues
7. Amarillo Bulls*
8. Aberdeen Wings
9. Johnstown Tomahawks
10. Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
11. Bismarck Bobcats
12. Coulee Region Chill
13. New Jersey Junior Titans (formerly Soo Eagles)
14. Corpus Christi IceRays*
15. Minot Minotauros
16. Wichita Falls Wildcats*
17. Minnesota Wilderness
18. Topeka RoadRunners*
19. Fairbanks Ice Dogs
20. Austin Bruins
21. Lone Star Brahmas*
22. Janesville Jets
You’ll notice that the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees have not been included with the South Division. As of this morning, the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (according to their official social media) still do not have a franchise for the 2015-16 season after they announced a move to Pennsylvania for the upcoming season, however they have also stated they will be back with more information coming. The NAHL has not officially released any statements regarding the state of Rio Grande Valley nor their eligibility for the 2015-16 season.
After a historic 2014-15 campaign, the IceRays will select 14th in this year’s draft. It is the farthest the IceRays have ever selected in a draft year, and that will naturally bring challenges in ensuring their selections. Heading into the day, the IceRays have 13 picks in this year’s draft after tendering nine players this season and keeping eight veterans on their protected list. That doesn’t mean the IceRays will sit waiting until 1:00 p.m. this afternoon. Last season, the IceRays made a trade two hours before the draft to acquire a 1st Round Pick so they could grab both forwards Ryan Cusin and Nic LaBurn with the 24th and 35th overall selections.
Last season, the IceRays made 11 selections in the NAHL Draft, and four made strong impacts with the organization. Cusin (24th overall) finish in the top-four in scoring (47) as one of four players to breach the 40-point plateau and placed second in power play points (24). LaBurn (35th overall) finished tied for sixth in scoring (26) and fourth in goals (15) during his final junior season as a middle unit winger. Andrew Lindgren (140th overall) was the mainstay in net for the IceRays last season, amassing 22 wins, which ranks second in junior franchise history for a single-season behind Anthony Stolarz’s 23-win season before being drafted. Tanner Lomsnes (156th overall) was the biggest surprise after going in the 8th Round. Not only was he part of the one-two combo with Wes Michaud on the top forward line and in scoring, he was a vital part of special teams and locker room environment. He also joined Michaud as the two sole players to commit to a NCAA Division I program in Niagara University, which is where IceRays Assistant Coach Michael Benedict just graduated.
The scouting staff led by Director of Scouting Rick Ellison has discovered a large group of solid talent over the past two seasons to build up to last season’s success. With the ultimate aspiration of claiming the IceRays’ first Robertson Cup in the foreground and Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach John Becanic making bold moves in the background, there’s always optimism among the fan base in making the right selections on draft day.
Coverage of the 2015 NAHL Draft begins at 12:45 p.m. on www.FASTHockey.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 22 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 email@example.com or on Twitter at @CollinDSchuck.