LOS ANGELES — The records continued to build for USA Hockey on Saturday in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
After a record 11 American players were taken during the first round of the draft on day one, the Americans had an additional 10 players selected in the second round. The 21 players over the first two rounds tied the all-time two-round record for Americans set in 2007 in Columbus.
Of those 21 players, eight have roots to the National Team Development Program, an arm of USA Hockey. This past year, USA Hockey won both the World Junior Championship and the World Under-18 Championship.
All told, there were 59 Americans taken in the draft, three short of the record 62 that were taken in 2007.
Brickley on the Fast Track to Success
Connor Brickley, who was selected in the second round Saturday, 50th overall by the Florida Panthers, was listed by the NHL as planning to attend Vermont in the fall of 2011. That path to college hockey, though, will be fast tracked, according to the Burlington Free Press.
Brickley is working to complete his studies and enroll at Vermont this fall, which would be a boon to a Catamounts program that finished eighth in the Hockey East regular season last year but upset New Hampshire in the opening round of the playoffs to advance to the TD Garden for the second time in three seasons.
The 6-foot-1 Brickley is known for his speed, something that would be a welcome addition at Vermont.
“Connor’s highly motivated, never takes a shift off and is combative,” said Jack Barzee of NHL Central Scouting. Barzee said he was positive Brickley would be selected by the third round. “Everybody on our staff has seen this kid and they all like him.”
Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon couldn’t provide commentary on Brickley as NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking about players who have not yet signed a National Letter of Intent, according to Vermont’s sports information department.
Merrill Remained Cool Overnight
Nobody enjoys having his stock value fall during the NHL Entry Draft. But for Jon Merrill, who will attend Michigan next year after having played for the NTDP last season, he took things surprisingly well.
Merrill watched seven college players ranked lower than him by Central Scouting march to the stage during Friday’s first round. By the end of the night, Merrill was the top collegian not to have been drafted.
The young 18-year-old didn’t fret, though.
“[Friday] was really crazy,” said Merrill. “I was out [in downtown Los Angeles] all day. I’m staying out in Venice Beach so I just stayed out here all day. After the draft I just went back and grilled some burgers and hung out at the beach.
“I slept amazing. Venice Beach is awesome. Not too bad at all.”
Now that’s he’s NHL property, after begin selected by New Jersey with the 38th overall selection, the celebration will be pretty similar.
“I’ve gotta go right back to the beach,” he said. “Hang out some more out there. Grill some more burgers, for sure.”
Goaltender, Nets: Hockey and Soccer Find Similar Fans
The World Cup game between Ghana and the United States, though disappointing for the good guys, stole a bit of the show from the NHL Draft on Saturday. The game kicked off in the middle of the third round at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time and plenty in the press box were following the soccer game as closely as the draft.
Though difficult to identify, three NHL Draft choices were wearing their team’s swag as they sipped soda at the nearby Yard House restaurant watching the U.S. soccer game. Two actually had the wherewithal to actually return to their hotel rooms and switch into U.S. soccer jerseys. Their perfectly clean and newly-received draft hat, though, remained on their heads.
Possibly the feel-good brother-brother story of the NHL Draft belonged to the Hayes family. After Kevin Hayes, a freshman-to-be at Boston College, was selected in the first round on the draft on Friday by Chicago, his brother was dealt to the Blackhawks on Saturday.
Jimmy Hayes, who will be a junior at BC, was drafted 60th overall in 2008 by Toronto, but the Maple Leafs shifted his rights to Chicago on Saturday in exchange for the 43rd overall selection. The Leafs picked Bradley Ross with the newly-acquired second-round pick.
The trade, though, could mean a brother-brother combo for the defending Stanley Cup champs some day.
“It’s what brothers would dream of,” said the elder Jimmy Hayes, who was on hand Friday night when his brother became a first-round draft pick. “The only [brothers] I’ve seen do it is the Sedin twins and they look like they have a great time out there.”
If anything, the potential brother duo will keep family members from having to play favorites if the two ever had to meet on opposing clubs.
“Now they don’t have to root against anybody,” said Jimmy. “We can play at BC together and hopefully then in the NHL.”
To the Twin Cities We Go
While this year marked the first time that the NHL draft ever made it to California, next year the event will head to a city with a deep hockey culture.
The 2011 NHL Entry Draft will take place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. It will be just the second time the draft will be held in Minnesota.
The 1989 NHL Entry Draft was held at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minn. Matt Sundin, who went on to be a standout player, was the No. 1 overall selection of the Quebec Nordiques, which later became the Colorado Avalanche. Sundin played four seasons for the Nordiques before playing 13 years with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sundin finished his career in 2009 playing for the Vancouver Canucks.
Next year’s NHL Entry Draft will be the second major hockey event held at the Xcel Energy Center after, of course, the 2011 Frozen Four, which will be held there in April.