NHL Draft Notebook
More From NCAA-bound Players Selected Last Week
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
More news and notes from a variety of incoming college players selected in last week's NHL Draft.
Incoming Michigan State defenseman Josh Jacobs was selected in the second round, 41st overall, by New Jersey. Interestingly, his mentor with his junior team, Detroit Honeybaked, was Ryan Pardoski, a winger for Michigan from 1986-90. Jacobs credits Pardoski with his development quite significantly, but not enough to choose the Wolverines over the Spartans.
"There's a little back and forth there, but at the end of the day, we're both happy with where we were and where we're going to be," Jacobs said.
"Growing up watching Michigan State, it was a dream school for me. And now that I had the chance to commit there, I felt comfortable. They put a lot of responsibility on me at a young age, as a sophomore in high school, and I wanted to take that responsibility and help them turn it around. That's my goal there, to win games and be a leader."
Jacobs' OHL rights are held by Sarnia. That's the same team where Reid Boucher played. Boucher was also a Michigan State commit, a native of East Lansing, who was drafted by the Devils. He wound up skipping Michigan State, going to Sarnia, and made his NHL debut last season.
"That's an option," Jacobs said. "New Jersey has a big say in what they want for my development. But as of now, Michigan State is in my best interests.
"They've had some down years, especially this past year. But having a dream school and them putting the responsibility on you to become a top-notch player for them, I wanted to have that responsibility."
Ryan Donato is planning on heading to Harvard in 2015 to play for his father, Ted, assuming he's still there. Ryan was drafted in the second round, 56th overall, by the same team that drafted his father, Boston.
"I follow the team religiously, just being in Boston," Ryan Donato said. "I couldn't be happier, just being around these guys. There's no words to describe it right now. ... My favorite player is (Bruins center) Patrice Bergeron hands down. I try to copy what he does in the defensive zone and offensive zone.
"My dad's last year in the NHL, he came to my house, he came to Harvard games. He's special to me."
The younger Donato will play this season in Omaha in the USHL, then Harvard. His draft experience was a far cry from his dad's.
"He was swimming in a pool with his buddies when he got the phone call," Donato said. "He preached to me, it's almost better to have that, so now you know you need to work and get ready. This is part of the dream and you have to work to get to the dream.
"We value an education. To have a chance to go (to Harvad) and then maybe the Bruins like he did, would just be unbelievable."
Three Minnesota-born U.S. National Team Development Program defensemen all went in a 23-pick span of the second and third round — Ryan Collins by Columbus (47th overall, headed to Minnesota); Jack Daugherty by Nashville (51st, Wisconsin) and Jack Glover by Winnipeg (69th, Minnesota).
Dougherty said he got grief for picking Wiscsonisn, but was actually always a North Dakota fan growing up.
"I just loved how they always went after the Gophers, started fights," Daugherty said. "For a little kid, it was beautiful."
Glover said he loves the way someone like Michigan-product Jacob Trouba plays. Trouba is now with Winnipeg, the team that drafted Glover. He thinks his style fits with the Gophers.
"Their up-tempo style of play, and the type of players they try to recruit in there," Glover said. "It's a fast team, skilled team, but at the same time, were tough to play against. ... Going there, considering my style of play, is the best fit.
"I'm not a big hitter, a big bruiser — I'm not looking to take heads off. But at the same time, the way I play defense is very effective."
Another USNTDP product, forward Joe Wegwerth, is going to Notre Dame in 2015. He was taken early in the fourth round, 92nd overall, by Florida. He said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, who helped start the USNTDP, was a big influence in going to Notre Dame.
"We had some good dialogue, great meetings," Wegwerth said. "He's a wealth of knowledge when it comes to hockey, and I think he's really going to help my development."
Wegwerth said the decision to go to the USHL for one year was mutual, but he's looking forward to developing in college.
"You're playing against men that are fully evolved," Wegwerth said. "It's tough, it's physical. It's hard out there. And that's why it gets you so ready for the NHL."
Shane Eiserman shares the pronunciation of a famous hockey Hall of Famer, but the last name is spelled differently. He is going to New Hampshire after being selected in the fourth round, 100th overall, by Ottawa.
"When I played at the (U.S.) development team, everyone in Michigan asked me, "Are you related to Steve,'" Eiserman said.
Eiserman has older brothers playing at Bentley and Fredonia State, and has two smaller twin brothers.
Another player who will spend another year in the USHL before coming to college is Maxim Letunov, a forward headed to Boston University, and a rare Russian-born NCAA hockey player. He was taken in the second round by St. Louis, one of a draft-high five Boston University-bound players selected.
"I wasn't expecting to go that high, but I'm really glad it worked out good for me," Letunov said.
"I'm not that strong, I'm not ready for NHL yet. But college programs really help people to get stronger and mature as a player, and I think that will help me too," he said about his decisoin to the NCAA route. "I've been in Boston a couple tomies, so I love the city, nice people there. And BU has a really good history, and really good strength and conditioning coach. And they just offered me, called me one day and asked if (I was interested). And I thought about it a lot and was excited to go there."
It's nice to see Brown making strides given the setbacks they've had in the recruiting game the last couple of years. They've recruited well since Brendan Whittet took over as head coach, but then lost player along the way. This year, three of Brown's prospects were taken in the draft, an unprecdented amount, two of which are coming this fall.
Three Brown prospects were taken in a 25-pick span over the fourth and fifth rounds — Sam Lafferty (113th, Pittsburgh) out of Deerfield Prep; Max Willman (121st, Buffalo) out of Williston-Northampton Prep; and Tyler Bird (137th, Columbus), who was playing for former Maine coach Tim Whitehead at Kimball Union this past year.
Willman was particularly interesting, since he was playing high school hockey in Cape Cod and wasn't noticed, before getting another chance at prep school.
"It's pretty overwhelming, pretty exciting, it's definitely a dream come true," Willman said. He said he was finally drafted because of "exposure. Not many guys come down to the Cape and watch public school hockey. But definitely (also) getting bigger, faster and stronger."
Lafferty is going to Tri-City of the USHL before Brown.
Fifteen NCAA-bound players were selected in the fifth round of the Draft, the most of any round. Among them was Willman and defenseman Matt Berkovitz, who is going to Wisconsin in 2015. Berkovitz was originally going to go to Chicago of the USHL last year, but said he didn't want to try to juggle hockey and school, so instead he played for a Wisconsin high school team in the elite Minnesota league.
Now, he said, he's ready to play in Chicago of the USHL for one season before Wisconsin.
"Sitting around, hearing a lot of names called, you have to wait it out, be patient and hope your time comes," Berkovitz said of his fifth-round selection. "I just tried to enjoy the day with my family. I tried to crack a lot of jokes and make the time pass."
Also in the fifth round were two players with lineage at Minnesota, that decided to play elsewhere.
Luc Snuggerud was taken 141st overall by Chicago (which picked a draft-high seven NCAA-bound players); he is headed to Nebraska-Omaha. His uncle, Dave, was a star at Minnesota and a U.S. Olympian.
And taken 142nd overall by the New York Rangers was Tyler Nanne, whose grandfather, Lou, also starred at Minnesota. He's attending Ohio State in the fall.