While the first round didn’t turn out quite how a couple of Americans wanted, it was another successful day for USA Hockey at the 2013 NHL Draft.
Eleven Americans were taken in the first two rounds of the draft, and 57 were selected overall. However, perhaps the biggest surprise occurred in the first round, where only three Americans were selected, with several players falling down the draft. Seth Jones, the top-ranked prospect in the final Central Scouting rankings, highlighted this. He fell to Nashville at No. 4 overall.
“I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about going to those teams [in the top three], but at the same time I'm excited to be a Predator,” Jones said following his selection. “Obviously Shea Weber is there. He's a great player, and they have a lot of other great players, and I'm happy to be a part of the organization.”
The next American off the board was Michael McCarron at No. 25 to Montreal. The 6-foot-5 forward spent the past season playing with the Nation Team Development Program Under-18 team.
The first round closed with the Chicago Blackhawks selecting Chicago native Ryan Hartman with the 30th overall pick. Hartman said he grew up a Blackhawks fan and attended several of their games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“[It’s] unbelievable, my hometown team,” Hartman said. “I had a mindset of maybe that was a possibility coming in and it’s kind of a dream come true. My heart was racing thinking this could happen.”
The Blackhawks were one of two teams that heavily loaded up on American talent. Five of their eight selections were American, with three coming from the NTDP U-18 team. In addition to Hartman, they selected John Hayden (round 3, pick 74), Tyler Motte (round 4, pick 121), Luke Johnson (round 5, pick 134) and Anthony Louis (round 6, pick 181).
Hartman wasn’t the only Chicago native the Blackhawks selected. Hayden was born in Chicago and said he still has family in the area.
“I came in with a pretty open mind, I knew some teams had me slotted in the second, third or fourth rounds,” said Hayden, who was rated as Central Scouting’s 29th best North American skater, but fell to pick 74. “But [coming to the Blackhawks] is perfect for me. I thought about them [selecting me]. I had good talks with them during the combine.”
Buffalo was the other team stocking up on Americans. After taking two European defensemen in the first round in Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, the Sabres used six of their final nine picks on Americans. Additionally, they acquired American defensemen Jamie McBain from the Carolina Hurricanes.
Buffalo took JT Compher (round 2, pick 35), Connor Hurley (round 2, pick 38), Justin Bailey (round 2, pick 52), Calvin Petersen (round 5, pick 129), Anthony Florentino (round 5, pick 143) and Sean Malone (round 6, pick 159). Both Bailey and Malone are Buffalo natives.
“I tried not to talk about the draft too much, but [going to Buffalo] came up with me being a hometown guy,” Bailey said. “[My mom] was a big time Sabres fan growing up, so it came up how nice that would be. But she told me if I’m ever fortunate enough to play in Buffalo that I’m not staying at home, so I’m going to have to find my own place.”
Other hometown selections included Steve Santini (New Jersey, round 2), Zach Pochiro (St. Louis, round 4) and Avery Peterson (Minnesota, round 6).
“Coming from Minnesota you can’t be a bandwagon guy, you have to like the Wild,” Peterson said. “I’ve gone to quite a few games so I’m pretty excited about it.”
The draft was capped off by a pair of American goaltenders going to teams their goaltending fathers are a part of.
Brendan Burke, whose father, Sean, is the goalie coach for the Phoenix Coyotes, was selected by the Coyotes in the 6th round. In the 7th round, the Devils traded for the 208th overall pick to selected Anthony Brodeur, the son of legendary goalie and current Devil Martin Brodeur.
“It was awesome. It was a surprise, I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” said Anthony, a member of the famed Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school team this past year. “I’m extremely excited.”
Even after a successful day for Americans at the draft, the biggest American storyline of the day remained the fall of Jones to the Predators.
"I'll try to make, in a good way, those teams regret not taking me,” he said on the TSN set following his selection.