The North American Hockey League conducted its Entry Draft online July 14, with 12 New England natives going in the first 100 selections, and 29 players from the region getting drafted overall. Players from all six states were chosen in the 20-round draft.
The NAHL is the only Tier II junior hockey league sanctioned by USA Hockey and enters its 47th season of operation, with 29 member clubs throughout the United States and Alaska. Typically considered an older league with no limitations to 20-year-old (birth year 2001 in 2021-22) players or “overagers” in contrast to the USHL, which only allows a maximum of four on each (non-NTDP) roster, the NAHL is a proven stepping stone in junior hockey. It produces quality D-1 and D-3 players each year, and several NHLers, the most notable of which is former UMass Lowell MVP and NHL Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Connor Hellebuyck, played in the NAHL first.
With three NAHL teams based in New England — the Danbury Hat Tricks, Maine Nordiques and Northeast Generals — we’ll take a look at a few names who, if they report and play in the league this season, could make an impact. Being drafted is no guarantee of playing in the league, though earlier picks in the draft tend to be vetted and committed.
All NAHL teams compete for the league championship Robertson Cup, which was won this past June by the Shreveport Mudbugs for the second time in four seasons.