It’s a strange sensation, discussing the NHL draft in October.
Usually the NHL draft takes place in late June. This year’s draft was originally scheduled to happen June 26-27 in Montreal, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It finally commences this week in a virtual manner, with the first round taking place Tuesday and rounds two through seven on Wednesday.
“It’s probably been a long time coming for the guys who get to be a part of this draft,” said Everett Silvertips coach Dennis Williams, who could see as many as four of his players hear their names called in this year’s draft. “Normally it would have happened four months ago, so I can’t imagine the anxiety all those kids have gone through these last few months.”
But for four Silvertips this could be the moment when they finally get to let out their breaths.
Everett has four players who were listed in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for this year’s draft:
■ Defenseman Ronan Seeley is ranked 75th among North American skaters. The 6-foot, 175-pound native of Olds, Alberta, was Everett’s first-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. He had three goals and 29 assists in 63 games last season.
■ Defenseman Kasper Puutio is right behind Seeley at No. 76 among North American skaters. The 5-foot-11, 181-pound native of Finland was the first-overall selection in the 2019 CHL import draft and was acquired at the trade deadline from Swift Current. He had four goals and eight assists in 21 games with the Tips.
■ Center Gage Goncalves is ranked 80th among North American skaters. Goncalves, a 6-foot-1, 170-pounder from Mission, B.C., went undrafted into the WHL and was passed over in the 2019 NHL draft, making him a second-year eligible player. He had 33 goals and 38 assists in 60 games last season.
■ Center Michal Gut was ranked 176th among North American skaters. The Czech Republic native, who measures 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, was Everett’s first-round pick in the 2019 import draft. He had 13 goals and 23 assists in 51 games last season.
Seeley, Puutio and Goncalves are ranked in a range that projects them to be mid-to-late-round selections. Gut’s ranking puts him on the bubble for being drafted. None are expected to be taken during Tuesday’s first round.
“I think it’s really exciting for those guys,” Williams said. “They all bring something different to the table, they all come from different parts of the world, from different backgrounds, are at different stages of their careers. Having the chance to be drafted shows the commitment they’ve put into the game and the character they’ve shown to stick to the course.
“But no matter what happens Wednesday, it doesn’t really guarantee anything,” Williams added. “The work continues, and they’ll go about on Thursday making sure they’re getting themselves better. All those guys have the drive and the work ethic that whatever happens Wednesday, it won’t alter who they are as players. It will only motivate them further to have success and move on to the NHL.”
This year’s draft is primarily for players born between Sept. 16, 2001 and Sept. 15 2002. NHL teams control the rights to players selected from the WHL for two years before having to sign them, so any Everett player drafted this year is expected to remain with the Silvertips for at least one more season.
Should Everett have four players selected, it would match 2006 for the most Silvertips selected in a single NHL draft.
Tuesday’s first round begins at 4 p.m. Pacific Time. Wednesday’s action gets underway at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time.