It’s one thing to get drafted into the NHL, but going pro alongside a junior teammate surely makes the moment that much more special.
That was the case four times this weekend as a quartet of NHL clubs called the names of a pair of teammates, beginning with Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram and netminder Trent Miner, both of whom were drafted by the Colorado Avalanche. Further, a pair of Prince Albert Raiders forwards in Brett Leason and Aliaksei Protas joined the Washington Capitals, the Florida Panthers selected forwards Henry Rybinski and Matthew Wedman from the Seattle Thunderbirds, and the New Jersey Devils added Ottawa 67’s teammates Nikita Okhotyuk and Graeme Clarke.
Beginning in Colorado, the Avalanche picked up two key players who helped guide the Giants to the 2019 Ed Chynoweth Cup Final. A budding blue-liner, Byram projects as a top-flight defenceman and entered the 2019 draft class as the second-ranked North American skater, while Miner was one of the sharpest goaltenders in the WHL this season, coming away with 24 wins and a .924 save percentage in 32 appearances.
Meanwhile, the 2019 Ed Chynoweth Cup champion Raiders saw both Leason and Protas join the Capitals. Leason’s addition at 56th overall was the latest chapter in a storybook season for the 20-year-old after he went unselected in the past two drafts. In Protas, the Capitals nabbed a rookie forward who excelled in his first year in North America and then found an extra gear in the postseason as he finished the playoffs with 12 goals, one more than he had in 61 regular season appearances.
Rounding out the WHL was a pair of Seattle Thunderbirds heading to the Florida Panthers – who led the way with six selections from the CHL – in Rybinski and Wedman. Joining the Thunderbirds in early January, Rybinski appeared in 33 games with his new club and finished above a point-per-game pace with seven goals and 28 assists. The Panthers also made a savvy selection in the final round in Wedman, a 20-year-old centre who led Seattle in scoring this season with 77 points in 66 games.
In the OHL, the Devils called the names of two regular-season champions from the 67’s in Okhotyuk and Clarke, both of whom participated in the 2019 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. In Okhotyuk, the Devils drafted a steady Russian blue-liner who notched 17 points in 56 appearances with Ottawa this season. Meanwhile, Clarke finished the 2018-19 campaign with 23 goals and 11 assists in 55 games.
While no NHL club selected players from the same QMJHL squad, the Pittsburgh Penguins reunited a pair of childhood friends in Samuel Poulin of the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Nathan Legare of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. The Penguins kicked things off in adding Poulin, the top scorer from the Phoenix with 76 points in 67 games, who became the first player drafted from the QMJHL this year when he was chosen 21st overall. Pittsburgh then added another offensive piece midway through the third round in Legare, who finished second in Drakkar scoring this season with 87 points in 68 contests.
In all, 71 players from the CHL were selected in the 2019 NHL Draft by 28 different NHL teams.
2019 drafted CHL players by NHL team:
Anaheim: 2 (29, Brayden Tracey, MJ; 186, Mathew Hill, BAR)
Arizona: 1 (207, Valentin Nussbaumer, SHA)
Buffalo: 1 (7, Dylan Cozens, LET)
Calgary: 2 (26, Jakob Pelletier, MON; 214, Dustin Wolf, EVT)
Carolina: 3 (28, Ryan Suzuki, BAR; 44, Jamison Rees, SAR; 183, Blake Murray, SBY)
Chicago: 2 (3, Kirby Dach, SAS; 194, Cole Moberg, PG)
Colorado: 5 (4, Bowen Byram, VAN; 78, Alex Beaucage, ROU; 140, Sasha Mutala, TC; 171, Luka Burzan, BDN; 202, Trent Miner, VAN)
Columbus: 1 (212, Tyler Angle, WSR)
Dallas: 2 (18, Thomas Harley, MISS; 142, Nicholas Porco, SAG)
Edmonton: 1 (38, Raphael Lavoie, HAL)
Florida: 6 (52, Vladislav Kolyachonok, FLNT; 69, John Ludvig, POR; 81, Cole Schwindt, MISS; 136, Henrik Rybinski, SEA; 168, Greg Meireles, KIT; 199, Matthew Wedman, SEA).
Los Angeles: 2 (33, Arthur Kaliyev, HAM; 95, Jordan Spence, MON)
Minnesota: 3 (59, Hunter Jones, PBO; 75, Adam Beckman, SPO; 149, Matvey Guskov, LDN)
Montreal: 3 (77, Gianni Fairbrother, EVT; 126, Jacob LeGuerrier, SSM; 201, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, CHI)
Nashville: 1 (24, Philip Tomasino, NIAG)
New Jersey: 3 (61, Nikita Okhotyuk, OTT; 80, Graeme Clarke, OTT; 82, Michael Vukojevic, KIT)
N.Y. Islanders: 4 (57, Samuel Bolduc, BBA; 147, Reece Newkirk, POR; 178, Felix Bibeau, QUE; 209, Cole Caskey, SAG)
N.Y. Rangers: 1 (49, Matthew Roberson, EDM)
Ottawa: 4 (19, Lassi Thomson, KEL; 37, Mads Sogaard, MH; 125, Mark Kastelic, CGY; 187, Maxence Guenette, VDO)
Philadelphia: 3 (103, Mason Millman, SAG; 165, Egor Serdyuk, VICT; 169, Roddy Ross, SEA)
Pittsburgh: 2 (21, Samuel Poulin, SHA; 74, Nathan Legare, BAC)
San Jose: 2 (48, Artemi Kniazev, CHI; 55, Dillon Hamaliuk, KEL)
St. Louis: 4 (62, Nikita Alexandrov, CHA; 93, Colten Ellis, RIM; 155, Keean Washkurak, MISS; 217, Jeremy Michel, VDO)
Tampa Bay: 3 (27, Nolan Foote, KEL; 89, Maxim Cajkovic, SNB; 182, Quinn Schmiemann, KAM)
Toronto: 2 (53, Nicholas Robertson, PBO; 115, Mikhail Abramov, VICT)
Vancouver: 2 (122, Ethan Keppen, FLNT; 133, Carson Focht, CGY)
Vegas: 3 (17, Peyton Krebs, WPG; 41, Kaedan Korczak, KEL; 141, Mason Primeau, NB)
Washington: 3 (25, Connor McMichael, LDN; 56, Brett Leason, PA; 91, Aliaksei Protas, PA)
The Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and Winnipeg Jets did not draft any players from the CHL.