VANCOUVER – After no National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) players had their name called in Friday’s first round of the 2019 NHL Draft, two of the first three picks in round two on Saturday were incoming NCHC forwards. Including those two, 10 incoming or signed NCHC student-athletes were chosen in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft Saturday at Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks. Six of eight NCHC teams had at least one current or future player drafted, with seven of the 10 draft picks slated to play in the NCHC starting this upcoming 2019-20 season.
Two of the 10 players drafted went in the second round, while two more went in the third round. The fifth round saw three incoming NCHC freshmen selected, while the sixth and seventh rounds combined had three future NCHC players taken off the board. Seven of the draft picks are forwards, while two are goaltenders and one is a defenseman (USHL Player of the Year, Ronnie Attard, who will suit up for Western Michigan).
Incoming North Dakota freshman forward Shane Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y.) was the first NCHC player to hear his name called at the 2019 NHL Draft, going 32nd overall to the Ottawa Senators with the first pick of the second round. He’s the second straight NCHC player to get taken with the first pick of round two after Western Michigan defenseman Mattias Samuelsson went to the Buffalo Sabres in that spot last season. The Senators also selected UND rising sophomore defensemen Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonny Tychonick in last year’s NHL Draft. Pinto spent last season in the United States Hockey League (USHL), appearing in 30 games for the Lincoln Stars, before being traded to the Tri-City Storm for the final 26 games of the regular season. The 6-foot-2 center compiled 59 points last season between the two teams, potting 28 goals to go with 31 assists, while adding nine points in six playoff games with the Storm. Pinto was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team this past season, and helped the Storm capture the Anderson Cup as regular-season champions. He will take part in the World Junior Summer Showcase with the U.S. squad in late July.
Incoming Denver freshman forward Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.) was taken two picks later, being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers with the 34th overall pick in the second round after being ranked 19th among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings. Like Pinto, the 5-foot-8 winger was named to the U.S. roster for the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase on Thursday. Brink earned USHL Forward of the Year honors and was selected to the USHL First All-Star Team this past season, tallying 35 goals and 68 points in 43 games for the Sioux City Musketeers. Along with playing in Sioux City, Brink represented Team USA at the 2019 IIHF U-18 World Championship, chipping in three goals and six points in five games to help the U.S. win a bronze medal. In addition, Brink represented the U.S. at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge, leading the team to win the championship while earning Tournament MVP honors.
The Flyers took another incoming NCHC player in the third round, selecting Western Michigan freshman Ronnie Attard (White Lake, Mich.) with the 72nd overall pick. The 6-foot-3 right-shot defenseman wrapped up his career in the USHL with the Tri-City Storm and was named both the USHL Player and Defenseman of the Year this past season. Teammates with Pinto, Attard set a league record for goals by a defenseman in a single season after lighting the lamp 30 times. The USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year added 35 assists to set another single-season USHL record for points by a blueliner with 65 points in 48 games. He also posted a league-best +47 plus/minus, while captaining the Storm to an Anderson Cup as USHL regular-season champions. Internationally, Attard helped the United States to a title at the World Junior A Challenge along with Brink, serving as captain and tallying three points in the six-game tournament in Alberta.
With the penultimate pick of the third round, the Boston Bruins drafted incoming Minnesota Duluth freshman forward Quinn Olson (Calgary, Alta.) at 92nd overall. The 5-foot-11 left-handed shot played the last two seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) for the Okotoks Oilers. This past season, Olson racked up 66 points in 54 games, tallying 20 goals and 46 assists. In his first season with the Oilers, in which he played with current UMD rising sophomore forward Tanner Laderoute, Olson compiled 53 points (14g, 39a) in 59 games. This past January, Olson competed in the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game, featuring 40 of the top NHL draft-eligible players from across the CJHL.
Three incoming NCHC players were selected in the fifth round, including two heading to North Dakota in the fall. Forward Harrison Blaisdell (Regina, Sask.) was the first to go in round five, as the Winnipeg Jets claimed him with the 134th overall pick. Ranked 80th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Blaisdell more than doubled his point total in his second season with the Chilliwack Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), racking up 58 points in 51 games on 33 goals and 25 assists. In 2017-18, the 5-foot-11 center tallied 21 points in 49 games with the Chiefs.
One pick later, incoming Omaha goaltender Isaiah Saville (Anchorage, Alaska) was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights at pick 135. Saville was teammates with Attard and Pinto in Tri-City, helping the Storm capture the Anderson Cup in 2018-19. He was named the USHL Goaltender of the Year and was a three-time USHL Goaltender of the Week. The 2018-19 USA Hockey Dave Peterson Goaltender of the Year led the USHL with a 1.90 goals-against average and was second with a .925 save percentage in 34 regular-season games. Saville recorded four shutouts, while collecting 25 wins in his 34 starts. Internationally, he also played with Attard and Brink on Team USA, helping them capture the World Junior A Challenge title. He was named to the U.S. roster for the upcoming World Junior Summer Showcase, as well.
The final NCHC pick in the fifth round was forward Judd Caulfield (Grand Forks, N.D.), who will play for his hometown North Dakota Fighting Hawks this fall with Pinto and Blaisdell, after being taken 145th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 6-foot-3 Caufield was ranked 67th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He has spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program, where he put up 25 goals in 28 games with the USHL squad, while contributing 38 points in the rest of the development team schedule in 2018-19.
The lone NCHC-affiliated pick in round six came from future Colorado College goaltender Dominic Basse (Alexandria, Va.), who went 167th overall to the Chicago Blackhawks. Basse, who will likely join the Tigers in 2020, signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) in November of 2018. The 6-foot-6 netminder played for the Selects Hockey Academic U-18 Team last season, compiling a 1.91 GAA and a .924 save percentage in 42 games. The Youngstown Phantoms draft pick in the USHL also won a United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) Championship last season.
The final two future NCHC players taken in the draft that have signed NLIs came three picks apart as future Denver forward McKade Webster (St. Louis, Mo.) went 213th overall to the Tampa Bay Lightning, while future UND forward Massimo Rizzo (Burnaby, B.C.) was the penultimate pick overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, going 216th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes. Both are expected to begin NCHC play in the fall of 2020. Webster has spent the last two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, totaling 32 points (11g, 21a) in 64 games over those years. Rizzo has spent the last two seasons with the Penticton Vees in the BCHL, putting up 40 points (11g, 29a) in 37 games as the captain last season, after 39 points in 50 games in 2017-18 with the Vees. The 5-foot-10 winger was ranked 84th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft.
Overall, 70 current or future college hockey players were selected in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, with the NCHC ranking third among conferences behind Hockey East (27) and the Big Ten (18).
Incoming UND forward Shane Pinto was the first incoming NCHC player selected in the NHL Draft, going to Ottawa with the first pick of day 2 (32nd overall).
Incoming DU forward Bobby Brink went two picks after Pinto to Philadelphia at 34th overall.
|Round||Pick||Name||Pos.||NHL Team||NCHC School||18-19 Team|
|2||32||Shane Pinto||F||Ottawa||North Dakota||Tri-City (USHL)|
|2||34||Bobby Brink||F||Philadelphia||Denver||Sioux City (USHL)|
|3||72||Ronnie Attard||D||Philadelphia||Western Michigan||Tri-City (USHL)|
|3||92||Quinn Olson||F||Boston||Minnesota Duluth||Okotoks (AJHL)|
|5||134||Harrison Blaisdell||F||Winnipeg||North Dakota||Chilliwack (BCHL)|
|5||135||Isaiah Saville||G||Vegas||Omaha||Tri-City (USHL)|
|5||145||Judd Caulfield||F||Pittsburgh||North Dakota||U.S. NTDP|
|6||167||Dominic Basse||G||Chicago||Colorado College (’20)||Selects Hockey Academy|
|7||213||McKade Webster||F||Tampa Bay||Denver (’20)||Green Bay (USHL)|
|7||216||Massimo Rizzo||F||Carolina||North Dakota (’20)||Penticton (BCHL)|