Building upon the recent successes of the league’s North Iowa Bulls winning the USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championship and the player advancement during the 2012-13 season to the NAHL and other junior leagues, the NA3HL has added another feather in its cap as it set a new standard for player movement with the conclusion of the NAHL Draft earlier this week.
Seven NA3HL players were selected in the 2013 NAHL Entry Draft, which was conducted online on Tuesday, June 4th. In addition, 23 NA3HL players signed tenders with NAHL teams during the 2012-13 season leading up to the draft. In total, 30 players who played in the NA3HL this past season officially have their rights protected if they play in the NAHL through signing a tender or being drafted. The 30 players in one season signifies the highest total to date of NA3HL player advancement to the NAHL in one season.
The highest of the NAHL draft picks that went to an NA3HL player was Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks forward Scott Cuthrell, who this past season was the NA3HL Rookie of the Year and the league’s leading scorer. Cuthrell went 106th overall in the 5th round of the draft to the Michigan Warriors. The Warriors drafted two NA3HL players this year as they also took Connor Millard of the Peoria Mustangs in the 7th round 144th overall.
After Cuthrell, the next NA3HL player taken was Lucas Stewart of the St. Louis Jr. Blues, who was taken by the Springfield Jr. Blues, who took him in the 5th round 107th overall. The Wenatchee Wild used their 9th round pick (171st overall) to take Michigan Mountain Cats forward Adam Morrison, who tallied five goals during his 11-game end of the year stint with the team. Rounding out the NA3HL players drafted in the 9th round was Mason Wyman of the Michigan Mountain Cats, who was selected 175th overall by the Brookings Blizzard.
In the 10th round, the Tier III National Champion and Silver Cup winner North Iowa Bulls had their first player taken in the draft, as defenseman Brian McFarlane was selected 187th overall by the Soo Eagles. The last NA3HL player selected in the 2013 NAHL Entry Draft was the NA3HL February Defenseman of the Month Kyle Gonzales of the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, who was selected by the Minnesota Magicians to start the 13th round at 201st overall.
In addition to the seven draft picks, 23 NA3HL players were tendered to NAHL teams throughout the 2012-13 season, including six from the North Iowa Bulls, four from the St. Louis Jr. Blues, three from the Granite City Lumberjacks, two each from the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks and Flint Jr. Generals and one each from the Alexandria Blizzard, Metro Jets, Minnesota Flying Aces, Peoria Mustangs, Pittsburgh Vengeance and Twin City Steel.