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Next, the NHL draft is upon us. It takes place Sunday in Newark, New Jersey, beginning at noon PDT.
The biggest news for the Silvertips with regards to the draft is the possibility of having a defenseman selected in the first round for the second straight year. Swiss blueliner Mirco Mueller is projected as a probable first rounder. He was ranked ninth among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting Service rankings, and he’s predicted to be picked anywhere between 16th and 22nd in NHL.com’s three mock drafts. Mueller is hoping to follow in the first-round footsteps of former Everett captain Ryan Murray, who was taken second overall in last year’s draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. If he’s taken in the first round, Mueller will be the sixth first rounder in Everett’s 10-year history (Peter Mueller, Leland Irving, Zach Hamill, Kyle Beach and Murray are the others).
One side note about the possibility of Mueller being taken in the first round. If he goes in the first round, the Tips will be able to make two selections in Wednesday’s CHL import draft. I wasn’t aware of this rule until a couple weeks ago, but if an import is selected off a CHL team in the first round of the NHL draft, that CHL team can have a third Euro as insurance against the first rounder sticking in the NHL. Once the drafted player returns from his NHL camp, the CHL team has to get back down to two Euros. I don’t know whether the Tips will take advantage of this rule should Mueller go in the first round, but the option is there.
The other Everett player who’s likely to be picked in the NHL draft is goaltender Austin Lotz. Lotz finished 10th among North American goalies in Central Scouting’s final rankings, and he has momentum because of his strong finish to the season, followed by his involvement with Hockey Canada through the offseason. He’s projected to go in the middle rounds.
Three other Tips have a chance of getting drafted. Defensemen Ben Betker (147th among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings), Ayrton Nikkel (149th) and Austin Adam (175th) are ranked in the area that’s usually on the outside looking in. However, Betker and Adam have the kind of size NHL scouts find intriguing, and Nikkel’s willingness to drop the gloves could aid his cause.
As a final heads up, I have a wedding to attend Sunday, so I won’t be monitoring the draft. NHL.com will have all the picks.