Seven NAPHL alums selected in 2016 NHL Draft
June 27, 2016
It was a huge weekend for NAPHL alumni at the 2016 NHL Draft, which was held at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York, on June 24-25.
The NAPHL tied its own record set last season with seven former players who were selected in the 2016 NHL Draft.
On the first day and in the 1st round, former Arizona Bobcats forward Auston Matthews went 1st overall to the Toronto Maple Leafs and former Pursuit of Excellence forward Tyson Jost went 10th overall to the Colorado Avalanche. Both players played in the NAPHL during the 2011-12 season as Bantams, playing in the 14U Division when it was a part of the NAPHL.
Matthews played for the Arizona Bobcats (then the Phoenix Firebirds) 14U team during the 2011-12 season. His scoring touch was evident even at a young age as he had 22 points in just nine regular season games played. Matthews, a Scottsdale, AZ native, spent last season with Zurich of the Swiss National League after spending the previous two seasons in Plymouth and was the almost consensus number one pick heading into the 2016 NHL Draft.
Jost played for the Pursuit of Excellence in the NAPHL during the parts of the 2011-12 season in the 14U Division and then again in 2012-13 in the 16U Division. In five games with the 14U team in 2011-12, Jost had 17 points. In 2012-13 with the 16U team, Jost had five goals in six games in the regular season and an additional 13 points in four playoff games. Overall in his NAPHL career, Jost played in 15 games and had an astonishing 35 points.
In the 2nd round, the Edmonton Oilers wasted no time in drafting the 3rd NAPHL player in former Pursuit of Excellence forward Tyler Benson. Benson played for the Pursuit of Excellence 18U team as a 15-year-old during the 2013-14 season. He was named to the All-NAPHL 18U 1st Team that season, scoring 40 points in 21 regular season games. He also added seven points in four playoff games. For the past two seasons, Benson has played for the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League.
The 4th NAPHL alum drafted also came in the 2nd round as former Omaha AAA 16U forward Wade Allison was taken #52 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. Allison was named the USHL’s Clark Cup MVP as he led the Tri-City Storm to the USHL’s playoff championship. In 2014-15, Allison had six goals and 13 points in 35 games. In 2013-14, Allison played for the Omaha AAA hockey club in the NAPHL and led midget hockey with 75 goals and 152 points in 77 games.
The 5th NAPHL alumni selected was former Pursuit of Excellence forward Brandon Duhaime. The Parkland, Florida native, was selected #106 overall in the 4th round by the Minnesota Wild. Duhaime, had spent this past 2015-16 season in the USHL with both the Tri-City Storm and Chicago Steel. In 57 games, he recorded 42 points. Duhaime played two seasons in the NAPHL for the Pursuit of Excellence 18U team in 2012-13 and 2013-14. In 46 career regular season games, Duhaime had 42 points.
The 6th NAPHL alum taken in the draft was defenseman Ryan Jones, who was selected in the 4th round, #121 overall, by the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Crown Point, Indiana native is set to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha next season. Jones posted 43 points in 120 games with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars the past two seasons. The 6’1” 186 pound defenseman did not miss a single game in his USHL career. Jones played in the NAPHL during the 2012-13 season for the Indiana Jr. Ice 16U team and had three points in 18 games played.
The final NAPHL alum selected in the draft was Cameron Clarke. Clarke, who spent this past season playing in the NAHL for the Lone Star Brahmas, who was selected in the 5th round, #136 overall, by the Boston Bruins. Clarke is an NAPHL graduate having played for the West Michigan Hounds during the 2013-14 season. He was named the NAHL’s Defenseman of the Year in 2015-16. Clarke, who committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Ferris State earlier this season, also played on the NAHL Selects team at the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. "It’s a feeling like no other," Clarke said from his home in Michigan, where he watched from home alongside his parents and girlfriend. "I was just sitting in there with my family and when it happened, it was just pure excitement, and to go to Boston, they’re an Original Six organization. It’s just — it’s something you dream of growing up and it’s a great feeling."
It was yet another benchmark moment for the NAPHL, which enters its eighth season in 2016-17 with an all-time record number of 46 teams at the 18U, 16U and new 15U USA Hockey Tier I youth levels. The success of teams on the National stage, as well as, the success of NAPHL players at the next levels of hockey, is further proof that the NAPHL is redefining exposure and has elevated itself to one of the premier training grounds for development and opportunity.
Earlier this summer a record number of NAPHL advanced to the NAHL via tenders and draft and a record number of NAPHL players were also selected in the USHL Draft.