The United States Hockey League (USHL) completed the First Round of the 2022 NHL Draft with eight players selected Thursday night at Bell Centre in Montreal. The eight selections brings the USHL's all-time First Round total to 117 and marks the 14th year in-a-row with multiple First Round selections, 18 consecutive Drafts with at least one selection and a combined 17 picks in the last two First Rounds.
"The First Round was an excellent start to what promises to be another great NHL Draft for USHL players," said USHL President and Commissioner Bill Robertson. "With eight picks in the First, the USHL is ready to hear even more of our player's names called tomorrow as these players take the next step in their hockey careers."
Former USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) forward Logan Cooley was selected with the third pick, becoming the first of six NTDP First Round selections. Cooley marked the first-ever USHL player selected third overall in the Draft, which was one of only five of the 225 scheduled picks that a USHL player had not been selected in entering the Draft. The University of Minnesota commit also became the highest Drafted BioSteel All-American Game alumnus selected in the same season as he appeared in the game. Cooley first appeared in the 2021 event as an underage player. Previously, Jake Sanderson (Ottawa Senators - 2020, 5th Overall) held the highest mark while former NTDP forward Mathew Beniers (Seattle - 2021, 2nd Overall) still holds the highest selection among the Game's alumni after he appeared in the inaugural 2020 event. Cooley's selection marked the fifth time in the last seven NHL Drafts the USHL has had a player taken in the first three picks.
Fellow NTDP alumnus Cutter Gauthier was the next USHL player selected as the Philadelphia Flyers picked him with the fifth overall pick in the Draft. Gauthier inflated the USHL count to 14 selections in the top-five picks over the last 10 Drafts. Gauthier appeared in the 2022 BioSteel All-American Game with Cooley.
Former Dubuque Fighting Saints forward Matthew Savoie was next to hear his name called among USHL ties, going to the Buffalo Sabres with the ninth overall selection. The forward played the 2020-21 season with the Fighting Saints and is now the highest-selected Dubuque player at the NHL Draft, taking over the spot from fellow Sabres pick Zemgus Girgensons, who was selected 14th in the 2012 Draft. Savoie's season with Dubuque ended with a spot on the USHL All-Rookie FIrst Team after he registered 38 points (21-17-38) in 34 regular season contests. With the selection of Savoie, Buffalo extended its lead among NHL franchises to 11 USHL players taken all-time in the First Round. This year's Draft also marked the seventh time in the last 12 Drafts the Sabres have selected a USHL player in the First Round and the second year in-a-row.
The USHL then rattled off back-to-back picks beginning with Frank Nazar going to the Chicago Blackhawks with the 13th pick. The former NTDP forward was selected with a pick acquired by the Blackhawks via trade earlier in the Draft and extended Chicago's streak to a league-best 14-straight NHL Drafts with a USHL selection.
Immediately after Nazar, fellow NTDP forward Rutger McGroarty was picked 14th overall by the Winnipeg Jets. The selection marked back-to-back First Rounds with a pick from the USHL for the Jets. With his selection, McGroarty became the first Nebraska-born player to ever be selected in the First Round of the NHL Draft.
NTDP forward Jimmy Snuggerud was next off the board among USHL ties as he was picked with the 23rd overall pick by the St. Louis Blues. Snuggerud's selection marked back-to-back years with First Round selections from the Blues.
Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Sam Rinzel will be able to keep his team's nickname moving forward after being selected with the 25th overall pick by the Chicago Blackhawks. With their second USHL selection in the First Round, the Blackhawks became just the fourth NHL franchise to select a pair of USHL players in the First Round, joining the 2018 Philadelphia Flyers, 2016 Boston Bruins and 2015 Winnipeg Jets. Rinzel appeared in 21 games with Waterloo this season, picking up 10 points (2-8-10) in 21 appearances after playing for Chaska High (USHS) at the beginning of the season.
NTDP forward Isaac Howard rounded out the USHL selections as he was taken with the penultimate pick of the First Round as the Tampa Bay Lightning selected him 31st overall. The forward was the sixth NTDP player selected in the round.
Isaac Howard Interview with the USHL
The NHL Draft continues Friday with Rounds 2-7 beginning at 11 a.m. EST at Bell Centre, live on NHL Network. Be sure to follow the USHL on Twitter (@ushl) for the most up-to-date information as the Friday action unfolds.
The USHL has had 50-or-more players Drafted in each of the last four NHL Drafts, dating back to a League-best 57 players at the 2018 Draft. The League has now seen 941 of its players selected in total, with at least one player taken in each Draft but one dating back to 1981.
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