Players from the North American Hockey League (NAHL), will wait to hear their name called as the National Hockey League (NHL) conducts its annual Entry Draft on Sunday, June 30th. The draft will be hosted by the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is scheduled to be televised in the United States on the NBC Sports Network at 3pm (eastern) and continue on the NHL Network for the later rounds. All seven rounds of the draft will be conducted on the same day for the first time since 2006.
Once again players, both past and present, from the NAHL are expected to be selected in the annual draft. Last season, five players with NAHL ties were drafted, including two that played in the league during the 2011-12 season.
Corpus Christi goaltender Anthony Stolarz was selected in the 2nd round (#45 overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers, while Odessa goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was taken in the 5th round (#130 overall) by the Winnipeg Jets. Both went onto have remarkable seasons this past year. Stolarz signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers and led the OHL’s London Knights to the Memorial Cup Tournament, while Hellebuyck was one of the top freshman in the country as he backstopped UMASS-Lowell to the NCAA Division I Frozen Four.
In this year’s draft, the first NAHL player that could go off the board is Wichita Falls Wildcats goaltender Evan Cowley. Cowley finished ranked 12th for all North American goalies in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He is predicted to go anywhere between the 2nd and 5th rounds.
It is quite a story for Cowley, who a season ago was just being drafted into the NAHL, but now finds himself not only with an NCAA scholarship to the University of Denver, but mere moments away from hearing his name called in the NHL Draft.
“It is very surreal. I was excited to be drafted into the NAHL and to think a year later I may hear my name called in the NHL Draft shows just how far things have come in a year’s time. I didn’t think it would happen that fast, but this past year has been a great ride and given me a lot of experience, so hopefully things keep going that way,” said Cowley.
As a 17-year-old rookie for the Wildcats, Cowley tied for the league lead in games played with 50 and was 2nd in minutes played with 2,897. He ranked 4th in saves with 1,259 and posted a goals against average of 2.90 and save percentage of 90%.
Cowley’s (6’4/190) accomplishments during the 2012-13 season extended all the way to the international stage as he was also played in the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game back in September in Buffalo, NY and followed that up by representing Team USA National Under-18 Team in February at the Five Nations Tournament in Jonkoping, Sweden. He also appeared in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament this past February.