THE SELECTION TABLE
After the Montreal Canadiens defied popular belief and picked Slovakian Juraj Slafkovsky by the first pick, the New Jersey Devils turned to fellow countryman Simon Nemec in the first round of the NHL draft presented at Bell Center on Thursday.
Nemec, a 6-foot-1, 192 lbs southpaw, played with Nitra in Slovakia’s First Division.
Moments later, the Arizona Coyotes turned to U18 development team US center Loogan Cooley for third.
Cooley will play with the University of Minnesota in the NCAA next year.
He has 27 goals and 75 points in 51 games this season. He helped the USA win silver at the U18 World Cup with three goals and seven assists.
Cooley selected over Wright!
Finally, in the fourth row ended the seemingly endless Cavlaire of Shane Wright, who was picked fourth by the Seattle Kraken.
“I just got drafted by an NHL team, a team with a lot of potential and a good fan base. Everyone wants to have their name in the front row, but I couldn’t be happier to be with the Kraken,” he said in an interview after his selection.
Drafted to the Ontario Junior League at age 15 after inheriting “extraordinary” player status, Wright finished his first season atop the Kingston Frontenacs scoring charts with 66 points in 58 games. Even then he was seen as the future class leader.
The following year, forced to remain inactive due to the cancellation of the OHL season, he surprised with 14 points, including nine goals, in five games at the U18 World Cup. But he got off to a slow start the following fall, prompting his critics to take up his cause.
Though he finished his draft year with 94 points in 63 games, Wright had to spend the winter multiplying interviews to convince skeptics he was still the man for the job.
Completing the top 5 of this auction was a second forward from the American development program, winger Cutter Gauthier.
Imposing at 6ft 4in, Gauthier finished second at his club with a production of 34 goals. He mostly played on one line alongside Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud.
The Columbus Blue Jackets followed up by signing the second defender of the year, Czech David Jiricek, from Pilsen.
Immediately thereafter, the Chicago Blackhawks turned to Seattle Thunderbirds guard Kevin Korchinski at number 7, with the Ottawa Senators choosing to trade Alex DeBrincat.
Next up was Austrian forward Marco Kasper at No. 8 with the Detroit Red Wings, Winnipeg Ice winger Matthew Savoie with the Buffalo Sabers with the 9th pick, then Spirit of Saginaw Russian defenseman Pavel Mintyukov of the Anaheim Ducks Season 10 .
How many Quebecers and players from the QMJHL will be recruited? According to our hockey expert Stéphane Leroux, three Quebecers could be drafted in the first round, starting with the Quebec Remparts’ Nathan Gaucher. The other two are Sudbury Wolves’ David Goyette and Gatineau Olympiques’ Tristan Luneau. Since the CH will also speak at ranks 26 and 33, it’s possible that one of them will end up in Montreal.
The Habs also hold the 62e66e75e92e98e127e128e130e162e194e and 216e Selection.
Order of selection round 1:
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. New Jersey Devil
3. Arizona coyotes
4. Seattle Octopus
5. Philadelphia Flyer
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (obtained from CHI)
7. Chicago Blackhawks (received from Senators for DeBrincat)
8.Detroit Red Wings
9. Buffalo Saber
10. Anaheim Ducks
11. Sharks of San Jose
12. Columbus Blue Jackets
13. New York Islanders
14. Winnipeg Jets
15. Vancouver Canucks
16. Buffalo Saber (received from VGK)
17. Nashville predators
18. Dallas Stars
19. Minnesota Wild (obtained from LAK)
20. Washington Capitals
21. Pittsburgh penguins
22. Anaheim Ducks (obtained from BOS)
23. St Louis Blues
24. Minnesota Wilderness
25. Toronto Maple Leaves
26. Montreal Canadiens (obtained from CGY)
27. Arizona Coyotes (received from CAR via MTL)
28. Buffalo Saber (received from FLA)
29. Edmonton oiler
30. Winnipeg Jets (received from NYR)
31. Tampa Bay Blitz
32. Arizona Coyotes (obtained from COL)