COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Nine current or incoming National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) players had their named called on day two of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday. Eight of the nine draft picks are soon-to-be freshmen, while one rising sophomore was also selected.
Six NCHC teams had at least one player drafted, led by three freshmen from Denver and two from Omaha. St. Cloud State, North Dakota and Miami each had one incoming freshman taken, while Minnesota Duluth rising sophomore Connor Kelley was the final NCHC player chosen in this year’s draft. Six of the draft picks are defensemen, while the other three are forwards. The Detroit Red Wings drafted three of the nine NCHC players, while the Washington Capitals took two.
After no NCHC players heard their name in round one Friday night, three were selected in round two, including Denver blue liners Shai Buium and Sean Behrens, along with SCSU freshman defenseman Jack Peart. Round three saw DU forward Carter Mazur and UND blue liner Brent Johnson go off the board, while three more NCHC names were called in the fourth round (Miami forward Red Savage and Omaha newcomers Joaquim Lemay and Cameron Berg). Kelley rounded out the draft picks in round seven.
Buium (San Diego, Calif.) was the first NCHC player drafted, going 36th overall to the Red Wings. The incoming Pioneer played last season with the Sioux City Musketeers, tallying 26 points (4g, 22a) in 50 games during the 2020-21 USHL season.
Peart (Grand Rapids, Minn.) went later in round two, being taken 54th overall by his home-state Minnesota Wild. Peart was named Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey this past season after capping his high school career at Grand Rapids High School. The incoming Husky also earned USHL All-Rookie Second-Team honors, playing in 24 games and compiling 15 points with the Fargo Force this past season.
Only seven picks later, a second incoming Pioneer blue liner was chosen as Behrens (Barrington, Ill.) went 61st overall to the Colorado Avalanche. Behrens served as an assistant captain for Team USA at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World Championship and played last season with the U.S. National Team Development Program, racking up 35 points in 46 games for the U-18 Team.
The third Pioneer drafted Saturday was Mazur (Detroit, Mich.), who was selected by his hometown Red Wings 70th overall, joining Buium in the organization. Mazur captained the Tri-City Storm in the USHL last season, recording 44 points (20g, 24a) in 47 games.
Ten selections later (80th overall), Johnson (Frisco, Texas) was the first of two incoming NCHC freshmen tabbed by the Capitals. Last season, the incoming UND freshman played 47 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL, totaling 32 points (11g, 21a) to earn All-USHL Second-Team honors.
Savage (Scottsdale, Ariz.), who was teammates with Behrens at the U.S. U-18 National Team Development Program last season, was the third NCHC player taken by Detroit, going 114th overall in the fourth round. Savage, who will join his brother Ryan at Miami this season, captained Team USA at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World Championship and racked up 42 points in 46 games for the U-18 Team this past season.
Five picks after Savage (119th overall), Lemay (St-Pierre-les-Becquets, Quebec) became the second NCHC player to have his named called by the Capitals. The incoming Omaha blue liner racked up 10 assists in 15 games for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a pandemic-shortened BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) season. Only six selections later (125th overall), Lemay’s fellow Maverick freshman teammate, Berg, was taken by the New York Islanders. Berg (West Fargo, N.D.) spent the last two seasons with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, garnering Third-Team All-USHL honors in 2020-21 after a career-best 58 points (27g, 31a) in 51 games this past season.
Kelley (Maple Grove, Minn.) rounded out the NCHC draft picks at number 204 in the seventh round, going to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bulldogs blue liner chipped in five points, including three goals, in 25 games as a freshman for UMD last season. Kelley, along with Buium, Peart, Behrens, Mazur, Savage and Berg are all taking part in the World Junior Summer Showcase this week (July 24-31) in Plymouth, Mich. as part of U.S. National Junior Team evaluation camp.
The nine NCHC skaters selected were among 56 current or future college hockey players chosen during the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, which also includes three other players committed to NCHC teams in the future.
|2||54||Jack Peart||St. Cloud State||Minnesota||D|
|3||80||Brent Johnson||North Dakota||Washington||D|
|4||125||Cameron Berg||Omaha||NY Islanders||F|
|7||204||Connor Kelley||Minnesota Duluth||Chicago||D|