Friday night’s first round of the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft a distinct Maize and Blue color and feel as four of the first five selections were either at or heading to the University of Michigan.
The Buffalo Sabres had the first overall selection and they picked D Owen Power. The Ontario native was consensus number one pick of many teams and observers. The 18-year old had 16 points in 26 games for the Wolverines this past season as a freshman his stock clearly rose when he starred for team Canada at the IIHF World Championships in Latvia.
Power, who played one year with the United States Hockey League Chicago Steel, became the just the fourth player in NHL Entry Draft history to be the first overall pick to play in the NCAA joining Joe Murphy (Michigan State-Detroit), Rick DiPietro (Boston University-New York Islanders), and Erik Johnson (Wisconsin-St. Louis). His size and style of play remind scouts of Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay.
The expansion Seattle Kraken, who will begin play this October had the second pick and they are also went to Ann Arbor selecting F Matthiew Beniers. The native of Massachusetts marking the first time since 1969 that collegiate teammates were selected first and second.
Beniers played two seasons with the United States National development team before joining the U of M where as a freshman he had 24 points (10 goals) in 24 games. He like Power played in the World Championships but for team USA registering a goal and an assist.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had the fifth selection, they also drafted a Wolverine, in W Kent Johnson. The native of British Columbia has the speed and skill to play at the NHL level right now. He was second to Beniers in scoring this past season with 27 points (nine goals) in 26 games. Johnson collected four assists in his first collegiate game and had a five point game (goal and four assists) later in the season.
The fourth selection also had Michigan ties as the New Jersey Devils picked F Luke Hughes. The younger brother of both Jack (New Jersey) and Quinn (Vancouver). Hughes also played with the U. S. Development tem and was a teammate of Beniers for one season. Over the past two seasons, Hughes has scored 26 points in 48 game. A native Michigander, Hughes has committed to play for the Wolverines this coming fall however he has not made decision.
Many fans seeing the selection of Hughes are comparing the trio to the Sutter clan when six of them played in the NHL. Including Hall of Famer Brian, Brent who won two Stanley Cups in the 1980’s with the Islanders and Darryl who coached the Los Angeles Kings to two Cups in the early 2000’s.
For the second consecutive season the draft was held remotely due to the pandemic. Normally a city would be host to the league, the member teams, the players and their families as the new league calendar begins with the draft selections as well as league meetings.
The NHL Entry Draft is somewhat similar to Major League Baseball. Unlike the NFL and the NBA when players coming out can and do play immediately, the NHL is a futures draft meaning what the player can be in a year or possible two. When a team drafts a player the team holds his draft rights for up to three years if he plays college hockey or just one season if the player comes from Europe or plays in the Canadian junior league.
The highlights of the first round. Many people believe the Blue Jackets, who had three first round picks, did very well. Not only selecting Johnson but with their second pick (12th overall) took F Cole Sillinger from the USHL Sioux Falls Stampede. The son of former NHL player Mike Sillinger, who spent time with the Jackets and was born in Columbus had 55 points in 52 games. He began his season in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers then went to South Dakota when the league halted due to COVID-19.
The Battlions third first round pick is for the future with the selection of D Corson Coulemans a native of Saskatchewan who played junior B hockey last season in the Alberta league with the Brooks Bandits scoring 46 points over three seasons and will be joining the University of Wisconsin this fall.
The other teams who drafted well in the first round was Detroit with Swedish D Simon Edvinsson and G Sebastian Cossa. F Dylan Guenther to Arizona, and Florida taking F Mackie Samoskevich.
The most controversial pick came late in the evening when the Montreal Canadiens, with the 31st selection drafted, D Logan Mailloux (pronounced may-you). The 18-year old Canadian played in Sweden last season while he was there was charged with having consentual sexual activity with a young woman. Mailloux took a picture of the two of them and distributed the picture without her consent.
Just before the draft he issued a statement recusing himself from this year’s draft basically saying to NHL teams not to be drafted and needs for better words grow up and show he is worthy to play in the NHL. Unlike other pro sports there is nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement for a player to technically pull himself out of the eligibility list so he was there. Mailloux is scheduled to play this fall with the London Knights of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. However, this pick will resinate for a long time to come
Rounds two through seven will be done on Saturday.