It took a little longer to see the first New England native taken in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft at United Center June 23-24, but once the New York Islanders tabbed Newburyport, Mass., defenseman Ben Mirageas in the third round, many of the regional players came off the board in a close spread in the next 20 selections.
After six area natives were selected in the 2016 NHL draft, New England saw a modest bounce-back in terms of sheer numbers and placement of the picks in 2017 with seven, but five of them were all third- and fourth-round selections.
"Overall, it was probably a deeper class of area players," said one New England-based NHL scout after the proceedings wrapped up in Chicago. "It’s a cycle, you know? In 2015 you had a lot of kids picked from the New England states, and you had the three kids (Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin and Colin White) from Mass. all go in the first round. Last year, you had just three more total players taken in the entire seven rounds, so we’ll probably keep seeing that fluctuation from year to year. I think 2015 was an aberration on the high side, but 2017 was a pretty balanced group of players on the whole."