The North American Hockey League (NAHL), the only Tier II Junior league in the United States, recently held their annual player draft. 23 teams, including the Minnesota Wilderness, made 193 selections in total, securing player rights for the Tier II level.
The 2015 Robertson Cup winner, Cloquet-based Minnesota Wilderness have come up short in the playoffs during the past two seasons losing in the division finals. With 11 players aged-out from last season the NAHL Draft could provide much of the 2017-18 opening day roster.
The team made forward Isaac Moberg it’s top choice selecting St. Paul Johnson High School product in the third round. At 6′ 195 lbs. the soon-to-be 18 year old Moberg already has the size to make an immediate impact. With three years of Junior eligibility he could be a player to watch move up the development ladder.
Six other Minnesota prep players were drafted including defensemen Reid Hill (Duluth East), Nick Anderson (Orono) and Ryan Kranz (Centennial). Standing 6’3″ Hill is a steady blueliner who played locally. He could step into the lineup with four aged-out defensemen. Kranz is another who has size at 6′ while providing some offense as did Anderson, who at 140-pounds may need some time at the Tier III level.
The Minnesota prep forwards were all taken late in the draft; Bryden Stoskopf (Roseau) and Tyler Watkins (Hermantown) are area players who both put up 50 points or more, but could find it tougher to duplicate at this level. Ben Ward (Annandale) is a senior-to-be who led his team to the state final last March scoring 21 points in six postseason games. Ward was also selected in the USHL Draft by the Sioux Falls Stampede in the 11th round.
Welcome, Ben Ward. | Round 11. Pick 166. #StampedeCountry #USHLDraft pic.twitter.com/jIjxLiMkT0
— Sioux Falls Stampede (@sfstampede) May 2, 2017
Five players with Junior experience were taken including two with Eastern Hockey League experience. Alex Peterson put up 60 points for the Philadelphia Little Flyers while Michael McPherson had 69 points for the Boston Jr. Rangers. Peterson has two years of eligibility left and could be the more likely to move to Northern Minnesota as McPherson does have college options already.
Kevin Ford and Cory Dennis are Wisconsin-born players who both played in Canada last season. Each are in their final season of Juniors and could be counted on to contribute if they choose to come south of the border.
The lone international player selected was Edward Lindelow of Stockholm, although he has plenty of Minnesota hockey experience. Lindelow played midget hockey for four years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault before returning home last season to play in the J20 SuperElit.
Overall, the Wilderness addressed their roster needs as well as possibly taking a gamble that a veteran (or two) would choose to play Tier II late in their Junior career. For a team without a first or second round selection I feel the team did very well on draft day. If all goes according to plan you could see the Minnesota Wilderness competing for another Robertson Cup next spring.
Wilderness draft selections
Round (overall selection) – player, position – last team – stats
3 (65) – Isaac Moberg, F – St. Paul Johnson HS – 27 GP: 27 G, 19 A
4 (79) – Alex Peterson, F – Philadelphia Little Flyers (EHL) – 56 GP: 29 G, 31 A
5 (102) – Kevin Ford, F – Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL) – 58 GP: 36 G, 34 A
6 (132) – Michael McPherson, F – Boston Jr. Rangers (EHL) – 53 GP: 37 G, 32 A
7 (155) – Reid Hill, D – Duluth East HS – 31 GP: 3 G, 7 A
8 (178) – Nick Anderson, D – Orono HS – 26 GP: 3 G, 32 A
9 (201) – Ryan Kranz, D – Centennial HS – 28 GP: 8 G, 30 A
10 (224) – Cory Dennis, D – Dryden Ice Dogs (SIJHL) – 50 GP: 13 G, 28 A
11 (247) – Edward Lindelow, F – Djurgårdens IF J20 – 35 GP: 7 G, 4 A
12 (270) – Bryden Stoskopf, F – Roseau HS – 28 GP: 24 G, 27 A
13 (293) – Tyler Watkins, F – Hermantown HS – 31 GP: 22 G, 28 A
14 (316) – Ben Ward, F – Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake – 31 GP: 28 G, 50 A
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