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Penn State Hockey: Smirnov, Barratt Eye NHL Draft Next Week

by on June 16, 2017 1:00 PM

Penn State hockey is months away from the 2017-18 season but there might be just a little bit more history to check off the bucket list for the young program following an NCAA Tournament season — multiple players selected in next week's NHL Draft.

A very brief recap: The NHL Entry Draft is held for players between 18-20 (18-21 for European players) and doesn't end a players' NCAA eligibility. In most cases it's a team now owning the future rights to a player, but in very few cases it results in that player going straight to the NHL. To be perfectly honest, if Penn State had a straight-to-NHL player on its roster right now this wouldn't be the first time we'd be talking about it.

Nevertheless, that doesn't mean the draft is meaningless, it is in many ways a good indication of the type and quality of talent that teams are bringing in. Looking across the lineup cards in the Big Ten is often met with plenty of NHL logos slapped on a player's bio. Penn State has had its share over the past few years, Eamon McAdam's status as a third round New York islanders draft choice the highest a Penn State player has gone.

That could change soon though, incoming freshman Evan Barratt is forecasted to hear his name called in the Grand Canyon range of Top 30 to Top 5 rounds. The final official draft rankings have Barratt --who recently attended the NHL Combine-- rated the 65th best North American skater in the draft

Of course, as Roar Lions Roar pointed out this morning, Barratt is far from the only Penn State player or prospect that could enter the season with an NHL team behind him.

The best bet is Russian forward Denis Smirnov, who dazzled fans with his skills this past season. In fact according to a source close to Smirnov, NHL teams have called Pegula Ice Arena in bulk in recent weeks to inquire why Smirnov had yet to be drafted. Because they, like everyone else, are surprised he's still a free agent. Smirnov finished last season with 47 points in 39 games to the tune of 28 assists and 19 goals.

So when the NHL Draft begins on June 23, keep an eye out, because you might see a few familiar names on the board.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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