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Minnesota DI Programs Preparing Players for NHL Draft

06/24/2014, 12:45pm CDT
By By Jessi Pierce

Minnesota has never been lacking in the hockey talent pool. High-end development beginning in our youth associations and up to our coveted Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament have always caught the attention of NHL scouts.

Minnesota's Division I schools draw even more interest. Since 1963, 236 players from the state's five DI men's programs have been selected in the NHL draft -- the majority of them met with great success on the professional stage.

Here's a look at the breakdown:

University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

  • The Gophers have produced 189 total NHL draft picks including 19 first round picks.
  • At least one Gopher has been drafted in 39 of the last 40 NHL Entry Drafts dating back to 1974, with 2001 being the only exception.
  • Minnesota reached a program record in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft with nine players selected. Patrick White (25th), Jim O'Brien (29th), Nico Sacchetti (50th), MIke Hoeffel (57th), Jake Hansen (68th), Cade Fairchild (96th), Nick Larson (108th), Kent Patterson (113th), and Taylor Mattson (176th).
  • Currently the Gophers have 12 players with NHL rights: Taylor Cammarata (New York Islanders), Hudson Fasching (drafted by L.A. Kings, rights traded to the Buffalo Sabres), Michael Brodzinski (San Jose Sharks), Brady Skjei (New York Rangers), Jake Bischoff (New York Islanders), Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers), Mike Reilly (Columbus Blue Jackets), Seth Ambroz (Columbus Blue Jackets), Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals), Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning), Ben Marshall (Detroit Red Wings), Christian Isackson (Buffalo Sabres).
  • Former Gopher Erik Johnson, a Bloomington native, was the program's highest-ever pick. He was selected first-overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2006. He is currently with the Colorado Avalanche.

Erik Johnson is the Gophers highest-ever pick in program history. He was the first overall selection in 2006.

UMD's Matt Niskanen was drafted by the Dallas Stars with the 28th overall pick

University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

  • 27 players from UMD have been drafted into the NHL. 
  • Through the years their have been 50 Bulldog alums to suit up in the NHL -- 23 of them undrafted.
  • Larry Wright is UMD's highest drafted player. He was taken 8th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1971.
  • Matt Niskanen is the highest pick as of late. The Dallas Stars took the Virginia, Minn., native 38th overall in 2005.
  • 2014 U.S. Olympian Justin Faulk was taken 37th by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010. 
  • Brett Hull, one of the most decorated Bulldog alums, wasn't taken until the 6th round (117th) of the 1984 draft. He enjoyed 19 NHL seasons from 1985-2006, collecting 741 goals in the process -- third highest in the NHL. Hull played on two U.S. Olympic teams, won two Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

St. Cloud State University Huskies

  • 15 drafted into the NHL. A total of 24 SCSU alums have worked their way to the NHL stage.
  • Matt Cullen holds the program's highest draft pick. The Moorhead, Minn., native was taken 35th overall by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 1996. He won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and enjoyed time back in his homestate with the Minnesota Wild from 2010-2013. He is currently playing with the Nashville Predators.
  • The 2013 Hobey Baker Award winner, and Hermantown native, Drew LeBlanc, went undrafted. He is currently in the Chicago Blackhawks system.

Matt Cullen was welcomed back home when he joined the Wild in 2010. He was originally drafted by Anaheim in 1996.

David Backes was taken in the second round by the St. Louis Blues

Minnesota State University -- Mankato Mavericks

  • 5 former Mavs have been drafted into the NHL.
  • David Backes is the most notorious alum to make it in the pros. The Minneapolis native was taken 62nd overall by St. Louis in 2003. He has represented the United States in two Olympics, 2010 and 2014.
  • Though Backes is the most well-known former MSU player, Tyler Pitlick is the program's highest draft pick. A native of Minneapolis, he was selected 31st overall by Edmonton in 2010.

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