Plenty of local New England flavor in 2013 NHL draft

Plenty of local New England flavor in 2013 NHL draft
July 2, 2013, 12:30 am
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While there wasn’t a New England hockey prospect drafted in the first round of last weekend’s NHL Draft at the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils, there was a total of 10 local hockey players among the 57 US natives drafted by the 30 NHL teams on Sunday night.

Salem, Mass native and Middlesex Islanders skater Zach Sanford was the first local player taken when he was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 61st overall selection in the second round, and Ryan Segalla, Anthony Florentino, Tim Harrison, Chris Leblanc and Brian Pinho rounded out the other Mass natives selected by teams other than the Bruins.

Such local players sprinkled through the rest of the draft class signified some pretty impressive depth of talent among hockey teams based out of the five New England states.

“There were some very good names in New England this year that were good players,” said Chiarelli.

The Bruins clearly did their part by selecting North Reading, Mass native Ryan Fitzgerald at the bottom of the fourth round, and then dropping down into the Nutmeg State for Greenwich, Connecticut native Wiley Sherman in the fifth round with the 150th overall pick.

Fitzgerald won a pair of Massachusetts state hockey titles with Malden Catholic, and is ready to jump into the NCAA hockey world with a career at Boston College that begins next season, while Sherman will be attending Harvard in 2014-15 as a 6-foot-6 defenseman with a lot of promise. Ironically, Sherman was a big New Jersey Devils fan growing up where he loved to watch Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens play, but he’s learned to appreciate the Bruins at the Hotchkiss School.  

“Yeah, it’s really special. I go to a school where half the kids in my dorm are big time Bruins fans,” said Sherman. “I’m sure they are pretty happy too. I’ve watched Bruins games all year just because of them.”

As far as Harvard goes, Sherman said it was a no-brainer to keep it in New England and play under former Bruins forward Ted Donato. That will allow Harvard alums like Peter Chiarelli and Don Sweeney to keep a watchful eye on the oversized defenseman while he skates with the Crimson.

“They were one of the first few schools in the mix for me. They expressed a lot of interest,” said Sherman. “The moment I got up there I fell in love with the campus. The coaching staff, they were great to me. It was pretty much a no-brainer from the start.”

Similarly, Fitzgerald will be matriculating at Boston College next season and hopping into the Eagles pipeline of talent that’s cranked out a lot of accomplished NHL players over the years.  

“It’s a win-win for me. It’s one of the greatest schools in the country and that’s why I picked it,” said Fitzgerald, the son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald. “They have a very good winning tradition there and to be able play for Jerry York is going to be big for me.”

While there is clearly some connection and a feeling of fraternity among the local hockey prospects that were drafted this weekend, just don’t ever ask good buddies to extend that friendship to future Boston University/Boston College tilts. Bruins draft picks Ryan Fitzgerald and Matt Grzelcyk (taken last season from the US National Team Development Program) are good friends off the ice, but that ends next year at Conte Forum and Agganis Arena.

“He’s one of my best friends like I was playing with him. I’ve been talking to him throughout this whole process, and just what to expect,” said Fitzgerald. “To be in the same organization is something huge.

“But, yeah, we are not friends any more when the puck drops.”

Spoken like a true New Englander that knows what the BU/BC rivalry is all about.