Two future Huskies were selected in yesterday’s NHL Draft. Dane Birks, a 6′ 1″ defenseman, was selected in the 6th round by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the 164th pick. He scored 5 goals and 20 points as a 17-year-old with the Merritt Centennials (BCHL) and is expected to spend another year or two in Junior A hockey before heading to Houghton. Birks attended a handful of pre-draft camps, including those held by Montreal and Minnesota, yet slipped a little from some projections (as high as 4th round). He should be expected to step in as a physical defenseman with offensive upside when he gets to campus.
Jake Jackson, a 5′ 11″ forward, was selected late the 7th round by the San Jose Sharks with the 201st pick. He scored 29 goals and 56 points as a senior for the Tartan Titans (USHS–MN) and is expected to spend this upcoming season in the USHL where he was drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers. He should arrive at Michigan Tech for the 2014–15 season and hit the ground running as a offensive talent.
It was a successful day for Michigan Tech, which had more recruits/players drafted than any other team in the new look WCHA. Only one other WCHA recruit/player was selected: Minnesota State’s all-rookie goaltender, Stephon Williams, was selected in the 4th round by the New York Islanders with the 106th selection. That is a drastic change for the WCHA with all their departures. Over 60 college recruits/players were selected yesterday, and it’s been a long time since the WCHA made up such a small amount, but Mel Pearson continues to recruit players that get their name called on NHL draft night.
This is the 3rd year in a row a Michigan Tech recruit heard his name. Blake Pietila was selected in 2011(5th round, New Jersey), and Jujhar Khaira (3rd round, Edmonton) and Jamie Phillips (7th round, Winnipeg) were selected in 2012. That trend is likely to continue when a few highly touted recruits become draft eligible next year. Travis Brown (Rogers, USHS–MN) is likely to spend this year in the USHL and should garner some high-end talk and could hear his name as early as the 3rd round in 2014. Damico Hannoun is also likely to be drafted in the later rounds. Angus Redmond and Alex Gillies also have an outside chance depending on whether they get noticed and how they perform next year. The increasing number of Husky draftees is a trend that portends good things for the program as it tries to rise to the top of the WCHA after all the shuffling this off-season.