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AMERICANS DOMINATE DRAFT

Thursday, 06.29.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
New York Islanders
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AMERICANS DOMINATE DRAFT
Islanders look to the US for the future

By Jason Lockhart

The 2006 NHL Entry Draft may have been held in Vancouver, British Columbia, but it was Uncle Sam's future NHL stars that stole the show on Saturday.

A record-setting ten Americans were chosen in the first round, including the Islanders' first-round pick, right winger Kyle Okposo. It topped last year's record of eight.

Neil Smith and Co. used six of their 13 picks to select Americans. This is the first time in 17 years that the Islanders have chosen so many Americans in a draft. In 1989 the Islanders also chose six players from the United States.

"I'm not sure if it's a trend or not," said Islanders scout Doug Gibson. "The key when you're at the draft table is to pick the best players and competitors, regardless of where they are from. That said, yes, we are very happy with the players from the States that we were able to select."

Along with Okposo, the Islanders selected American-born right winger Rhett Rakhshani (Orange, CA), center Doug Rogers (Watertown, MA), defenseman Shane Sims (East Amherst, NY), right winger Brian Day (Boston, MA) and left winger Troy Mattila (Rockford, IL).

American-born prospects are on the rise and collegiate hockey continues to be the staging ground for developing future NHLers. Each year American and Canadian NHL hopefuls flock to US universities.

Six of the Islanders' 2006 draft choices will attend an American university in either the fall of 2006 or 2007, including Okposo (Minnesota), Rakhshani (Denver), Rogers (Harvard), Sims (Ohio State in 2007) and Day (Colgate in 2007). The sixth, goalie Jase Weslosky hails from St. Albert, Alberta, but will attend St. Cloud State in Minnesota in the fall of 2007.

American universities have become popular for Canadian players because it gives them an opportunity to pursue an education while playing highly competitive hockey. But college hockey teams are still dominated by American players, many hoping to pursue a future in the NHL.

At Minnesota, Okposo will get a chance to play alongside 2006 first-round picks Erik Johnson and Phil Kessel if they don't sign with the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, respectively and compete for an NCAA National Championship. The other American Islanders selections will also be playing on competitive teams next season or in 2007. Denver won back-to-back National Championships in 2004 and 2005 while Harvard, Ohio State and Colgate have all reached the 16-team NCAA tournament in recent years.

Some draft picks will stay at college for four years before turning pro, but some may forego their final two or three years if an NHL organization feels they are ready to make the next step to the NHL or its minor league affiliates.

One example is Rick DiPietro, who played one season for Boston University in 1999-2000, earning Hockey East Rookie of the Year honors before signing with the Islanders. Other players like Jason Blake, Shawn Bates, Garth Snow and Mike York each played four years at the collegiate level before turning pro. Both paths to the NHL can be effective.

As Americans continue to play a significant role on NHL teams, the trend towards drafting American-born players and developing future NHLers at US universities should endure.

MORE OF THE DRAFT CENTRAL '06

 

 

 

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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