All 16 North American 3 Hockey League (3HL) teams took part in the league’s annual entry draft last Thursday night and all came away with talented players who will vie for spots on 3HL teams this fall.
In years past, the draft was done in the Chicago area in late May with the results not released until later in the summer. This year, the draft was online and the players picked were immediately known via the 3HL’s Twitter feed and on NA3HLdraft.com.
When all was said and done, each 3HL team said they were impressed with the draft process and how smoothly it was conducted.
“We feel the draft was done very well,” said Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins coach Brian Cersosimo. “It was organized, had simple rules to follow and the biggest positive was working with the quality organizations in the league that made the process a success.
"For those who don't see what happens behind the scenes, they miss out on seeing what professionals these organizations have and how they're concerned with the players’ future and progress and making the 3HL the premier Tier III Junior A league to be a part of.”
Newly-hired North Iowa Bulls head coach Todd Sanden touched on how he felt his team’s first draft went and echoed what Cersosimo said regarding the event.
“The draft was very easy to follow and professionally done,” said Sanden. “I balanced our draft out taking one goaltender, seven defensemen and 12 forwards. I didn't have a great deal of time to prepare my draft list, but feel confident that we'll attract several of our picks if they become available. As an expansion team, our need is tremendous; we're looking for 25 players at this time.”
The Bulls had the first overall selection and used it on Kenai River Brown Bears (North American Hockey League, NAHL) forward Kevin Mansolill. The Granite City Lumberjacks had the final pick 319 players later and tabbed Tulsa Rampage (Western States Hockey League) forward Bobby Watson.
In between, the 3HL teams went to work taking players they'd scouted and recruited all last season.
“For the most part, our draft went as planned,” said Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks coach-GM Bob Jacobson. “A few players we were planning on drafting were selected by other teams, but that always happens. We also thought the new process went well.”
“The draft went great,” added Michigan Mountain Cats coach Chad Grills. “We got all the kids we were targeting. As far as needs go, we were looking for talented defensemen and we achieved that with this draft. As far as the forwards go, I got the kids that were right for our organization. I really enjoyed the format and I think the whole process was a plus for the league.”
“With the amount of top-end talent we were proud to have drafted in the 3HL round of the NAHL draft, we were looking for depth, solid goaltending and talented players with high ceilings,” Cersosimo said. “We feel we got more than expected.”
The Metro Jets drafted 17 of 18 Michigan natives and the one non-Michigander - forward Tim Wlodkowski - is from Texas, but will be living with relatives in the Detroit area this season.
“If I were to give our draft a grade, it would be an ‘A,’” Jets head coach Jason Cirone said. “We not only took kids that are highly-skilled, but we drafted kids we feel are good people, committed players. I’m very pleased with our scouting staff for all the countless hours they put in last season and since the season ended.”
In St. Louis, players who were tendered and drafted represented 11 different teams from California to New Jersey with nine local teams represented.
The defending Hurster Cup champion Chicago Hitmen only had 15 picks in the draft, but took players it feels can make their way up the organizational ladder.
“We wanted to draft young to feed the (NAHL) team,” Hitmen 3HL head coach Brent Dolan said. “That's our goal.”