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USHL Has Record-Breaking Draft with 52 Active Players Selected in NHL Draft

06/22/2019, 7:00pm CDT

52 of the 55 Selections with Ties to USHL Played in the League During 2018-19 Season

VANCOUVER, B.C. – After a busy Day 1 with nine selections, the USHL had another 46 players with ties to the league selected on Saturday for a total of 55 in the 2019 NHL Draft. The 52 active players set a new mark for most for a USHL Draft class, breaking last year’s total of 45. 

The 2019 Draft was the second-highest total for the USHL after 57 players with league ties were selected in 2018. Of the 55 selections, 17 came from member-club USA Hockey National Team Development Program, who also had 17 of the USHL's 57 picks in 2018. 

The 55 USHL selections came from 14 of the 16 USHL teams and at least one player was selected by 24 of 31 total NHL teams.

In the second round, NHL teams selected eight USHL players, which tied for the second-most all-time for any second round (2013) and was the most in the second round since 10 players were selected in 2014’s second round.

The most USHL picks came in the fourth round as 12 USHL players were selected, which was the second-most for USHL players in any round in NHL Draft history, behind only last season’s 16 second round picks. The fifth round brought another eight picks for USHL players, which tied for second-most all-time in the fifth round (2015 and 2012) and was the most in the fifth since 2015. The USHL’s 55 selections was rounded out by six picks in the third round, four in the sixth and five in the seventh.

Much like Friday’s first round, the USHL kicked off the festivities on Saturday when Tri-City Storm forward Shane Pinto was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 32nd overall pick. 

Pinto, a University of North Dakota commit, was the first of five selections with Tri-City ties as defensemen Zac Jones (New York Rangers – 68th overall) and Ronnie Attard (Philadelphia Flyers – 72nd overall) were taken in the third round before goaltender Isaiah Saville (Vegas Golden Knights – 135th overall) and defenseman Mike Koster (Toronto Maple Leafs – 146th overall) were selected in the fifth. 

There was just one pick between Pinto and Sioux City Musketeers forward Bobby Brink, who was selected 34th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. The University of Denver commit led a group of three Musketeers to be drafted, including forward Matthew Steinberg (Colorado Avalanche – 63rd overall) in the third round and forward Marcus Kallionkieli (Vegas Golden Knights – 139th overall) in the fifth round.

Chicago Steel defenseman Jackson LaCombe was the next USHL player selected as the Anaheim Ducks picked him with the 39th overall selection in the Draft. LaCombe was the first of four players with Steel ties selected, ahead of forwards Robert Mastrosimone (Detroit Red Wings – 54th overall), Nick Abruzzese (Toronto Maple Leafs – 124th overall) and Jake Schmaltz (Boston Bruins – 192nd overall).

The USHL then had four of the six picks between Waterloo Black Hawks forward Vladislav Firstov (Minnesota Wild) and NTDP defenseman Drew Helleson (Colorado Avalanche) who were selected at 42 and 47, respectively. Sandwiched between was NTDP defenseman Alex Vlasic (Chicago Blackhawks – 43rd overall) and Muskegon Lumberjacks forward Egor Afanasyev (Nashville Predators – 45th overall) before Mastrosimone closed out the USHL selections for the second round.

Afanasyev was the first of four Muskegon players taken in the NHL Draft, ahead of forward John Farinacci (Arizona Coyotes – 76th overall), former defenseman Marc Del Gaizo (Nashville Predators – 109th overall) and forward Trevor Janicke (Anaheim Ducks – 132nd overall).

The NTDP had another nine players selected on Saturday after seeing seven of their players taken in Friday’s first round. After Vlasic and Helleson were selected in the second round, defenseman Domenick Fensore (Carolina Hurricanes – 90th overall) went in the third before defensemen Henry Thrun (Anaheim Ducks – 101st overall) and Case McCarthy (New Jersey Devils – 118th overall) were selected in the fourth.

NTDP forwards Owen Lindmark (Florida Panthers – 137th overall) and Judd Caulfield (Pittsburgh Penguins (145th overall) went in the fifth round while forward Patrick Moynihan (New Jersey Devils – 158th overall) and defenseman Marshall Warren (Minnesota Wild – 166th overall) were taken in the sixth.

The fourth was the busiest of the seven for the USHL, with 12 players taken, including former Dubuque Fighting Saints forward Tyce Thompson (New Jersey Devils – 96th overall). The Providence College sophomore led a class of four Fighting Saints draft picks, including forwards Matias Maccelli (Arizona Coyotes – 98th overall) and Ryder Donovan (Vegas Golden Knights – 110th overall) as well as defenseman Braden Doyle (Los Angeles Kings – 157th overall).

Also included in the fourth round was Sioux Falls forward Ethan Phillips (Detroit Red Wings – 97th overall), who was the second of five Stampede players taken after defenseman Ryan Johnson (Buffalo Sabres – 31st overall) was the final selection of the first round. The Stampede also saw defenseman Max Crozier (Tampa Bay Lightning – 120th overall) and forwards Anthony Romano (Arizona Coyotes – 176th overall) as well as Andre Lee (Los Angeles Kings – 188th overall) taken in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Lincoln Stars defenseman Hunter Skinner (New York Rangers) was also selected in the fourth round, as he went 112th overall).

The Cedar Rapids Rough Riders added a pair of selections in the final rounds as defenseman Will Francis (Anaheim Ducks – 163rd overall) and forward Aiden McDonough (Vancouver Canucks – 195th overall) were selected in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively.

Other USHL Draft picks on Day 2 included:
Michael Vukojevic * – Green Bay Gamblers (New Jersey Devils – 82nd overall)
Matej Blümel – Waterloo Black Hawks (Edmonton Oilers – 100th overall)
Aaron Huglen – Fargo Force (Buffalo Sabres – 102nd overall)
Rhett Pitlick – Omaha Lancers (Montreal Canadiens – 131st overall)
Josh Nodler – Fargo Force (Calgary Flames – 150th overall)
Jack Malone – Youngstown Phantoms (Vancouver Canucks – 180th overall)
Bryce Brodzinski – Omaha Lancers (Philadelphia Flyers – 196th overall)
McKade Webster – Green Bay Gamblers (Tampa Bay Lightning – 213th overall)

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 17th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2018-19. The USHL had a record 45 players selected at the 2018 NHL Draft, more than any junior league in the world, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.

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