ST. PAUL – If there was a big picture story to the second day of the NHL draft, it was the role Minnesota played in its own backyard.
Local high-schoolers were taken with great frequency, while the biggest slider of the draft also hailed from the State of Hockey.
Omaha Lancer power forward Seth Ambroz had to sweat things out until the fifth round when Columbus jumped on the New Prague, Minn. native, but his dip was part of an interesting trend overall. Several big men dropped on the second day, including Ambroz – whose production in the United States League hasn’t ascended as folks thought it would – and prep school product Philippe Hudon, who wasn’t taken until the fifth round either. Detroit grabbed the Cornell commit, who was knocked for his production by scouts as well. In one of the biggest shockers of the day, big Shawinigan center Maximilien Le Sieur wasn’t taken at all.
On the positive side of the ledger, Midwest high-schoolers had a great day. Along with the expected picks, such as Mario Lucia and Joseph LaBate, Minnesota kids such as Nick Seeler were also snapped up. Seeler, a potent defenseman with state champ Eden Prairie, even got to don the hometown jersey, as the Wild made him their fifth round selection. He was taken one spot after Wayzata’s Tony Cameranesi, a teammate of Lucia’s and a speedy customer. The Toronto Maple Leafs were Cameranesi’s suitor and the youngster was actually out jogging when the pick went down. When he got home, his mom told him the news and he jumped in the car to meet his new employer. The Leafs also got a nice pickup in Edina high school’s Max Everson, a puck-moving defenseman committed to Harvard, where his brother Marshall also plays hockey. Everson, who sustained a wrist injury at one point in the season, was no lock to go at all, but ended up as a seventh-rounder. Another interesting selection was Wisconsin high-schooler Brad Navin, who went to Buffalo.
Along with Seeler going to Minnesota, Lucia was also taken by the hosts, who have a paltry history of developing local talent, something they clearly want to rectify. Lucia went late in the second round to raucous applause. Other great local fits included Edmonton taking Dillon Simpson, a defenseman at the University of North Dakota and the son of former Oiler Craig Simpson, and the Coyotes taking Zac Larraza, an Arizona native.
Finally, goaltenders found their groove in the second round, but it was Magnus Hellberg breaking the ice, not John Gibson as expected. Hellberg, a Swedish giant at 6-foot-5, went to Nashville, where big European netminders such as Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback have been great picks in the past. Hellberg even played in the same program as Lindback in Sweden.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Fridays and The Hot List appears Tuesdays Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/THNRyanKennedy.