Sioux Falls, S.D. – Three former Stampede players and one current player was selected in the NHL Draft held Wednesday. Former defenseman Yan Kuznetsov was the first selection to the Calgary Flames at 50th overall in the second round followed by forwards Sam Stange, Jack Smith and defenseman Matt Kessel.
The two-day draft, which was postponed from late June to Tuesday and Wednesday due to the covid pandemic, was the eighth consecutive year with a former Herd player being selected. The streak dates back to the selection of goaltender Stephon Williams in the 2013 NHL Draft and ties the longest in franchise history (2001-08).
Defenseman Yan Kuznetsov was selected in the second round, fifth overall to the Calgary Flames. Kuznetsov played in 36 games for the Herd during the 2018-19 season, tallying four assists for four points. In his first-year season at the Uni. of Connecticut, one of the youngest players to play collegiate hockey this season, collected two goals and nine assists over 32 games.
“Yan is a big, lengthy defenseman that plays really well,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving told reporters. “We think he has the capability to be a really good player.”
Forward Sam Stange was the second player to hear his name called with the 97th overall pick in round four to the Detroit Red Wings. Stange played in four games for the Herd after being traded from the Sioux City Musketeers last season. The Uni. of Wisconsin commit tallied 26 goals and 18 assists in 48 games between the clubs.
Five picks later forward Jack Smith, who is set to play for the Stampede this season, was picked by the Montreal Canadiens with the 102nd overall selection. The St. Cloud, Minn. native tallied 26 goals and 23 assists in 17 games for St. Cloud Cathedral, including 10 goals in the Minnesota high school state tournament last March. He is committed to the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
The final player selected was former defenseman Matt Kessel to the St. Louis Blues in the fifth round. Kessel scored two goals, added 17 assists for 19 points and notched a plus-23 rating in 62 contests during the 2018-19 season for the Herd. He led the nation with seven goals among defenseman as a freshman last season for the Uni. of Massachusetts, Amherst in 34 games.
With the selection of Kessel and Kuznetsov, seven total players have been selected into the league from the 2018-19 Clark Cup championship season, joining Ryan Johnson, Ethan Phillips, Max Crozier, Anthony Romano and Andre Lee, who were all selected in 2019.