Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Seven Minnesota commits selected in USHL Drafts

Seven Minnesota commits were selected over two USHL Drafts Monday and Tuesday. Three went in the first round with one, Chaska D Michael Koster, selected with the second overall pick.

If you need a simple refresher as to what is Phase 1, or why there are two phases, yesterday's post dives into the tangled web of Tier 1 hockey drafts.

USHL Phase 1
-Michael Koster, D - Tri-City (Round 1, 2nd Overall)
-Kaden Bohlsen, F - Des Moines (Round 1, 10th Overall)
-Jake Boltmann, D - Bloomington (Round 2, 22nd Overall)
-Nik Norman, F - Tri-City (Round 6, 94th Overall)

All four 2001-born players currently committed to the Gophers were chosen in the first 100 picks. Additionally, Rem Pitlick's brother Rhett went 102nd to Bloomington.

(He wasn't the only 2001-born brotherly connection. Casey Mittelstadt's younger brother John went in the Phase 2 Draft, selected by Casey's Green Bay team.)

Overall it was a good night for Minnesotans. Five of the first ten selections come from the state with Grant Silianoff (Notre Dame commit), Jacob Braccini (St. Cloud State) and Garrett Pinoniemi (St. Cloud State) joining Koster and Bohlsen.

USHL Phase 2
-Sam Huff - Waterloo (Round 1, 15th Overall)
-William Fallstrom - Fargo (Round 7, 107th Overall)
-Sam Rossini - Tri-City (Round 10, 149th Overall)
All 3 chosen were born in 1998.

It wasn't a surprise to see Huff, who signed his Letter of Intent last month, go early in the Phase 2 draft. He did just that, being Waterloo's first pick. (Onetime Gopher commit Josh Maniscalco, now planning on heading to Arizona State in 2018, was selected two picks earlier.) The Black Hawks continually end up being a popular pre-Minneapolis destination.

Justin Kloos, Taylor Cammarata, Tommy Novak, Tyler Sheehy, Rem Pitlick (drafted), commits like Garrett Wait, Ben Brinkman and Colin Schmidt (the latter two drafted last year), and even defenseman Sam Rossini, who saw his rights drafted again, either ended up in Waterloo or were drafted by the organization.

Rossini, meanwhile, was a later round selection by a Tri-City team apparently trying to be the next Waterloo or Penticton (BCHL) for Minnesota's pipeline. Rossini left the former for the latter last season. Unfortunately, it didn't go the way the defenseman wanted. Rossini tore his ACL in an exhibition game and missed the entire year until skating in Penticton's Game 7 win in the BCHL Final.

(As an aside and because I don't want to make another post, Mat Robson was named the BCHL Player of the Week yesterday for his performance. It's the second time this season the Toronto native earned the award.)

While Rossini has been a healthy scratch each of the past two games as Penticton plays in the Western Canada Cup, he could easily return to the Vees. If not, Tri-City would be another option.

Another one of those players with options is Fallstrom. The Stockholm, Sweden native went back to his native country four games in with Bloomington. A year prior he played with Omaha as a 17 before being traded.

A team doesn't normally select players in the first couple rounds of the Phase 2 draft without knowledge said player will report. That's one reason why Waterloo selecting North Dakota sophomore goaltender Matej Tomek in the second round ended up both surprising and now expected he will leave the Fighting Hawks for a fresh start with the Black Hawks.

The longer the draft goes, the more a player is seen as a flier. Many USNTDP and college-bound players end up being taken late just in case something goes awry with their teams. In a way this is similar to the CHL drafts where Americans and players with college commitments go far later than their talent would have them be selected. Every year without fail Minnesotans go undrafted or chosen late in the WHL Bantam Draft.

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