Friday, June 24, 2011

Oleksiak First NCAA Player Drafted in 2011

To little surprise, Northeastern rising freshman defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was the first (and only) current college hockey player taken in the first round of tonight's 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn. The Toronto native went 14th overall to the Dallas Stars, where his selection was announced by Dallas GM and former Cornell and NHL standout Joe Nieuwendyk.

Oleksiak won't be the last collegian selected this year, either, although at 6-7 and 240 lbs., he's sure to be the biggest. The question now is does he return to Huntington Avenue in the fall, especially since Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin resigned to take an assistant coaching position with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this week. The Versus telecast tonight mentioned that Oleksiak's major junior rights are held by Saginaw (OHL), and it's a sure bet the Spirit will be trying to pry the first rounder away from the Huskies and Hockey East between now and the start of the 2011-12 season.

Prior to Oleksiak's selection, John-Michael Liles was dealt from Colorado to Toronto for a second-round choice. The former Michigan State standout had spent his entire professional career to date on the Avalanche blueline. The Indianapolis native has tallied 68 goals and 207 assists in 523 career NHL regular-season games since 2003, and posted 4-7--11 points so far in 36 Stanley Cup Playoff contests.

North Dakota recruit J.T. Miller, a center, was drafted 15th overall by the New York Rangers, while a pair of incoming Miami freshmen also went in the first round. Connor Murphy, a defenseman, was claimed 20th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes, while future classmate and right wing Tyler Biggs went to Toronto two picks later.

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