Lumberjacks gearing up for Entry Draft
May 18, 2012
Ryan Lomberg (pictured) was the first of several Muskegon selections in last year's Entry Draft. The Jacks will gun for similar success in this year's talent accumulator, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon
by Matt Gajtka
MUSKEGON, Mich. – Three weeks after augmenting their talent base in the USHL Futures Draft, the Muskegon Lumberjacks will supplement it further in the league’s Entry Draft.
Unlike the May 1 Futures Draft, in which only players born in 1996 were eligible, in the Entry Draft USHL teams can claim the rights to any player born from 1992 to 1997. The Entry Draft is set for 5 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday.
“With the Entry Draft, you are looking at those players and seeing if they can step in and contribute right away,” said Lumberjacks Owner/General Manager Josh Mervis. “In the Futures Draft, you are looking at younger players and making a projection of what they will become in a year or two.”
Also in contrast to the Futures Draft, which consists of only six rounds, the Entry Draft will continue until each team has accumulated 30 players on its active roster, not counting Affiliate List players. Prior to the Entry Draft, each USHL team must submit an Initial Protected List of veterans which will make up the backbone of the club for next season.
Since the Entry Draft order is determined by reversing the 2011-12 USHL overall standings, the Lumberjacks will chose second in every round, including the pivotal position of No. 2 overall. Muskegon also had the third pick in the first round, acquired from Des Moines via trade.
“The first thing is to get out and scout,” Lumberjacks Assistant Coach Dave Noel-Bernier saidabout the team’s preparation for Tuesday. “But once we built our list, we’ve been on the phone to recruit. You’ve got to make sure the players are interested in coming to Muskegon, because if you draft a guy and he doesn’t show up, it’s a bad pick.”
Fellow Muskegon Assistant Coach Steve Palmer teamed up with Noel-Bernier to spend a significant amount of time on scouting missions, since one assistant could always stay behind with the team. The Jacks hope the additional travel and diligence during the season will lead to a promising crop of players.
“This year, we used the two-assistant system and relied on me and Steve to get out and see the guys,” said Noel-Bernier, who was the team’s lone assistant in 2010-11. “We also depended on our scouts quite a bit. I think we’ve done our work. We’re looking forward to it.”
Last spring, the Lumberjacks selected sixth in the first round of the Entry Draft and tapped center Ryan Lomberg from Ontario. The pick proved quite fruitful as the University of Maine recruit led the team with 40 points (22g, 18a) in 52 games.
Other notable 2011 Entry Draft picks that contributed to the 2011-12 Jacks were Dakota Klecha (second round), Mason Jobst (seventh) and Tyler Heinonen (17th). All told, last May’s Entry Draft yielded 211 man-games played and 118 points (64g, 54a), including three of the team’s top six scorers.
The first stage of the Entry Draft will end when each team has accumulated 23 players on its roster; a team that reaches 23 will automatically pass on its picks until each club reaches that threshold. The second phase of the draft will then begin, lasting until each team has secured the USHL rights to 30 players.
For more information on the USHL draft process, visit USHL.com or click here. Check out MuskegonLumberjacks.com or follow the team Twitter and Facebook accounts for up-to-the-minute updates, including an Entry Draft live blog.
The Lumberjacks have reduced the price of season ticket plans for the 2012-13 campaign to just $200! That’s an average of only $6.25 for each of next season’s 32 home contests, but the offer only lasts until June 16. Contact the Jacks’ ticket office at 231.724.JACK for more information.
The Muskegon Lumberjacks are proud members of the United States Hockey League, the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league and the leading producer of NCAA players and National Hockey League draft picks in the United States. The Lumberjacks’ organization prides itself on developing not just premier hockey talent, but also exceptional young men outside the arena of sports. For more information, visit muskegonlumberjacks.com.