The Minnesota men’s hockey team saw seven total members — six future Gophers and one current member of the team — selected this weekend in the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia. The seven selections is the most since the Gophers set a school record in 2007 with nine.
Freshman defender Ryan Johnson was the first man to come off the board, picked by the Buffalo Sabres as the 31st pick. Johnson was the first Gopher taken in the first round since Casey Mittelstadt was taken by the Sabres in 2017. Johnson led the Sioux Falls Stampede to the Clark Cup championship in the 2018-19 season, and is the 21st Gopher to ever be selected in the first round.
The defensive trend continued in the second round, with incoming freshman defender Jackson LaCombe picked 39th by the Anaheim Ducks. The Eden Prairie native earned All-USA Boys Hockey First Team honors for Shattuck-St. Mary’s after posting a school record for points scored by a defender with 89.
Roseau native Aaron Huglen was selected in the fourth round with the 102nd pick by the Buffalo Sabres, their second Gopher of the draft. Huglen will most likely begin his Gophers career in 2020 after playing in the USHL with the Fargo Force next year.
Rhett Pitlick was picked by the Montreal Canadians in the fifth round, but will also spend the next year in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers while splitting time at Chaska High School before joining the Gophers in the 2020-21 season. Pitlick joins his brother and former Gopher Rem Pitlick, who left after his junior season to join the Nashville Predators in 2019.
The last three picks came in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. Incoming freshman Mike Koster was picked by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the 146th pick. Current Gopher Ben Brinkman was picked by the Dallas Stars with the 173rd pick. Incoming freshman Bryce Brodzinski was taken No. 196 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. Brodzinski was named 2019 Mr. Hockey Award as the top senior boys hockey player in Minnesota.
The Gophers will look to utilize their incoming talent to improve on their 18-16-4 overall record during the 2018-19 season.