AMARILLO, TX – Depth…
It’s been something the Amarillo Bulls Coaching staff has talked a lot about during the recruiting season and have stated the the team must get better at if they are going to be contenders again in the North American Hockey League and the South Division.
The Bulls went along way to fulfilling that goal with the selection of eight players today (Tuesday) during the 2016 North American Hockey League Draft. Six forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender were chosen by the team during the Draft proceedings.
With the first pick 7th overall, the Bulls chose goaltender Nikita Babintsev from the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies U18 of the Tier I Elite League. Other players joining Babintsev are: Nolan Moyle 2nd Round-37th overall, (Forward, Detroit Victory Honda U18); Kendrick Frost 4th round-91st overall, (Forward, Omaha Jr. Lancers U16); Carson Pearce 4th Round-94th overall (defenseman, Lambton Shores Predators); Christian Sabin 5th Round-100th overall (forward, Detroit Victory Honda U18); Tyler Miknich 6th Round-124th overall (forward-Selects Academy 18U), Brenden Locke 7th Round-148th overall (Forward-Coburg Cougars); Alexander Gilmour 8th Round-172nd overall (Pembroke Jr. Lumberkings).
“Tony and I are pleased with the picks overall during the Draft,” said Bulls Head Coach Matt Nicholson. “You do your best to improve the overall talent of your team and add more depth to each position on the team. It was pretty consistent and spread out during the draft and they will go along to compliment the veterans we have protected plus those who were tendered by us.”
Nicholson said the next step is to speak to the drafted players as well as their parents and advisors, and make sure they are ready for Main Camp.
“We want the players to continue to prepare themselves for Pittsburgh and Main Cap,” he said. “One thing we think is a good problem to have is that there will be some real tough decisions to make not only at Camp, but in Amarillo for all the positions from goaltending to defense and forwards.”
“Now it’s about picking the best 23 players and laying the foundation for a good team and executing our plan.”
All NAHL teams participated in the Draft including the newest members Northeast Generals and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs. Eligible teams made selections in each round in reverse order of their finish during the 2015-16 NAHL regular season standings. The NAHL Draft consisted of the number of rounds necessary for each club’s protected list to reach 30 total players. The thirty players are made up of veteran players, tendered players and drafted ones. Each eligible NAHL club was entitled to one selection per round unless it had acquired or lost selections due to approved trades with other NAHL clubs.
Next up for the Amarillo Bulls will be Main Camp at the end of July in Pittsburgh, PA. Those players who have made it through that will advance to Amarillo in late August to begin Training Camp and prepare for the 2016-17 season.
Here is a synopsis of the Bulls Selections from the Draft along with a quote from Head Coach Matt Nicholson on each player
Position: Goaltender; Selected – 1st Round – 7th overall; Previous Team: Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.
“He is someone the fans will gravitate to in terms of his personality which was a big thing for us. He has all of the requisite intangibles to go along with some great skills in the crease.”
Position: Right Wing; Selected – 2nd Round – 37th overall: Previous Team: Detroit Victory Honda.
“He played for the Victory Honda U16 program which is under our scouting director Brian Burke. He’ s a big, right-shot forward that is committed to Michigan State and may be a young guy who adds size and skill should he be available after a USHL Camp.
Position: Right Wing; Selected – 4th round – 91st overall; Previous Team: Omaha Jr. Lancers U16.
“He is a young player who is a converted forward that led the Omaha team in scoring with 52 points. Kendrick is an athletic kid with size that has a lot of potential. With Frost and Moyle we decided to go on the younger side with a look at what their potential might be. We are excited to see what Kendrick can do against players older than him.”
Position: Defense; Selected 4th round—94th overall: Previous Team: Lambton Shores Predators.
“He’s a smooth skating left shot defenseman who was drafted by Saginaw in the OHL and is currently in the Fargo (USHL) Force Camp. Carson is a shutdown defenseman who has garnered a lot of interest from Division I schools.”
Position: Center; Selected – 5th Round-100th overall; Previous Team: Detroit Victory Honda U18).
“Because he was born in 1998, he has a chance to go back and play for his team again. Victory Honda won the state title and went to the National Championships. He has winning pedigree which I think is important. I saw him at a USHL Camp and he provides more depth for us because of his ability to player center and wing.”
Position: Left Wing; Selected – 6th Round-124th overall; Previous Team: Selects Academy 18U.
“He played a long side two of our tenders, Steven Ipri and Brendan Walkom, and they spoke very highly of him. Tyler is a smaller player that excels on the penalty kill which is like our former Captain Joey DiBenedetto.”
Position: Forward; Selected – 7th round-148th overall; Previous Team: Coburg Cougars.
“We have followed Brenden for quite some time. Brenden is committed to Cornell University for 2017 and has the ability to be a top two- line centerman. He has a 200-foot game and is good in the face-off circle. I think Brenden can add to the experience and the skill factor that we are trying to establish with our top six forwards.
Position: Forward; Selected – 8th round-172nd overall; Previous Team: Pembroke Lumberkings.
“Alex has junior experience having played in the Ottawa league last season for a good program in Pembroke. He is a big, strong 6-4 forward that reminds me of Joe Thornton, who has a big body that can produce points.”