June 23, 2012

Twelve New Englanders selected at NHL Draft

By Kirk Luedeke

PITTSBURGH— Although the six New England states did not have a representative selected until the third round a year ago, Maine native Brian Hart became the first player taken in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.  

Maine native Brian Hart was the first New Englander selected at the 2012 NHL Draft. (Getty Images)

He went 53rd overall to Tampa Bay, beginning a draft run of 12 New Englanders picked out of 211 selections total, ending with Charlestown’s Brendan Collier, 189th by the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I think it’s really good for New England hockey in general,” Hart said afterwards. “Some years we don’t have many draft picks, so I just want to show the kids in New England that you can get drafted early like this and it’s just an honor.”

All told, it was a triumph for New England-area players in the NHL class with the sheer volume of local prospects taken. Although none of the selections came in the first round, the consistency of the picks throughout rounds 2-7 could speak to the quality depth offered by the region or could be more of a reflection of the NHL crop’s thin offerings overall.

“I think this year it’s been more consistent,” said Minnesota fourth-rounder Adam Gilmour (Hanover, Mass.) when asked about the group’s success in Pittsburgh. “I think it will help a lot especially in prep. We have a lot of guys in prep and high school who are not in junior; it’s good for them.”

Here is a look at how the area players fared in Pittsburgh:

53. Brian Hart, RW Tampa Bay (Cumberland, Maine)

The skinny: A top athlete who starred in hockey and soccer at Phllips Exeter. Has the big frame at 6-foot-2 and 203 pounds. No New England player brings a more complete package of skill and upside in this draft class than Hart does.

Quotable: “I’m going to Harvard in the fall—no more soccer for me. I’ve always liked hockey more. I’ve always played just as much soccer but hockey was my No. 1 sport. I just because it was easy to go up the field and kick it around when compared to ice, but hockey was always No. 1.”- Hart

56. Sam Kurker, RW St. Louis (Reading, Mass.)

BU-bound Sam Kurker was selected in the second round by St. Louis. (Getty Images)

The skinny: Power forward has all the tools to be an impact NHL player: big body, good speed and a wicked shot. Going to BU a year early will be an excellent test for the winger who can be as effective and productive as anyone when he puts it all together.

Quotable: “I’m really excited to be picked by the Blues. It’s clearly a rich hockey tradition. I was really psyched it was the second round, too. I mean, clearly it’s a big accomplishment but I know its just another feather in the cap. It’s really what I do after this that matters.”- Kurker

66. Jimmy Vesey, LW Nashville (North Reading, Mass.)

The skinny: NEHJ’s top-ranked player for the draft reinvented himself after being passed over last year. Inherited high-end hockey sense and hands from his father, Jim, and played with a chip on his shoulder all year forSouth Shore. Will form a potential power duo at Harvard with Hart.

Quotable: “It’s the best feeling in the world. I couldn’t be happier where I went- it’s a special experience. I’m a big, skilled forward that likes to carry the puck and make plays in the offensive zone whether it’s scoring a goal or making a pass. I think one of my best attributes is my hockey sense in terms of reading the play.”- Vesey

75. Jon Gillies, G Calgary (South Portland, Maine)

The skinny: Huge 6-foot-5 frame and the kind of mental toughness he brings will make him an intriguing prospect to watch as he joins the Providence Friars next season. Composed, fundamentally-sound goalie has upside.

Quotable: “I didn’t even hear the team, I was looking down at my phone then I looked up and I heard my name. It was an unbelievable feeling.”- Gillies

79. Chris Calnan, RW Chicago (Norwell, Mass.)

Norwell's Chris Calnan was picked by the Blackhawks in the third round on Saturday. (Getty Images)

The skinny: Underrated power forward could end up being the best of the bunch. Never stops working, hits everything in sight. Uses his big frame to crash the net and work the corners. The perfect Chicago Blackhawks-style player, whose uncle (by marriage) Jeremy Roenick was also drafted by that team 24 years ago.

Quotable: “It’s really just a dream come true. I’m really just trying to soak it in now—this is nuts. It’s really an honor to be here. Talked to Jeremy (Roenick) last night; he’s just a huge inspiration for me being my uncle and he’s been here for me all the way. It’s a great city and I’m pumped to be there.”- Calnan

85. Matt Grzelcyk, D Boston (Charlestown, Mass.)

The skinny: Big man trapped in a small man’s body who grew up in the shadow of the TD Garden dreaming of playing for the Bruins gets his chance. Tenacious puck-mover is fast and smart, and BU will benefit from his presence.

Quotable: “I met with (the Bruins) so I kind of had a rough idea. I didn’t really come with high expectations so it was kind of a shock but I couldn’t be happier.”- Grzelcyk

98. Adam Gilmour, LW Minnesota  (Hanover, Mass.)

The skinny: 6-foot-2, 195-pounder led Nobles in scoring this season and has some legitimate offensive potential if he can harness his impressive physical gifts with more consistency.

Quotable: “I’m a big guy, skilled. I pride myself on my vision and playmaking. I think I’m good in the corners with my reach and puck possession.”- Gilmour

106. Tim Boyle, D Ottawa (Hingham, Mass.)

The skinny: Late-bloomer is Rangers forward Brian Boyle’s younger brother. A work in progress who isn’t quite as big or skilled, but has worked hard to be a player. Skated with Calnan and Gilmour at Nobles.

125. Doyle Somerby, D NY Islanders (Marblehead, Mass.)

Kimball Union's Doyle Somerby went to the Islanders at 136th overall. (Getty Images)

The skinny: Gigantic defender has a condor-like wingspan. His foot speed and agility are an issue, but he’s smart and driven. Could stand to improve his physicality before he gets to BU in 2013.

Quotable: “It feels amazing. I’m so excited right now; so many emotions flowing through my head I really can’t describe them.”- Somerby

136. Robbie Baillargeon, RW Ottawa (Enfield, Conn.)

The skinny: Skilled playmaking winger fell further than many thought, but Sens get good value with the former Cushing Academy star. With one more year in the USHL before he goes to BU Baillargeon will add strength to his 6-foot-1 frame.

Quotable: “It’s a great feeling being a team from Canada I can’t wait to go up there. I know their fans are very passionate and take care of their team so much. I just can’t wait to get up there and see what their team has to offer.”- Baillargeon

138. Danny O’Regan, C San Jose (Needham, Mass.)

The skinny: Member of the World Under-18 championship gold medal team is not big, but plays a strong two-way game. Shifty and elusive with good hands—O’Regan is the kind of area pick that the San Jose Sharks have become known for.

Quotable: “It’s awesome. I know a few of the guys from past years like Colin Blackwell and the Ferreiros from Mass. So I was really excited to get drafted by them too.”- O’Regan

189. Brendan Collier, LW Carolina (Charlestown, Mass.)

The skinny: Smallish winger but fiery competitor and proven winner is headed to the EJHL next season before he joins O’Regan, Baillargeon, Somerby, Grzelcyk and Kurker at BU in 2013.

Quotable: “It’s a dream come true. I was sitting in the basement with my family watching the computer screen and there were some tough times there, but when it happened, it was just an amazing feeling. All I wanted was the chance to go to an NHL organization, and I couldn’t be happier.”- Collier

Kirk Luedeke can be reached at kluedeke@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kluedeke29.