Nearly half of the players drafted in this year’s NHL Entry Draft – including 14 of the top thirty picks – were Canadian-born. Zemgus Girgensons became the highest drafted Latvian player. One player each from Great Britain, Germany, Belarus and Switzerland were drafted.
The first overall selection of Russian-born OHLer Nail Yakupov marks the first time a native of Russia has been the top pick since Alexander Ovechkin was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2004, and the first time since 2007 a non-Canadian born player was the top pick.
Of the 211 players selected, an astounding 155 were born in North America. Ninety-nine Canadian players and 56 American-born players were drafted in the seven round system this past weekend, and Canada had half or more of the players drafted in rounds two through five.
The best round for the United States ended up being the final round, where ten players were selected. (Ten players from Canada were also selected in that round.)
The next most-represented country was Sweden, with 22 players being selected. This included ten players drafted in the final two rounds.
Hesitation to draft Russian players due to the allure of the KHL was somewhat evident, but not as much as in the past – eleven players from the country were selected this year, compared to eight each in the 2010 and 2011 drafts and seven in the 2009 draft. For a historical perspective, ten years ago the draft saw 32 Russians drafted through nine rounds.
This year marks just the fourth time in the past nine seasons that at least one Russian-born player was drafted in the top ten (Burmistrov, Filatov, Ovechkin and Malkin were the others).
Nine players from Finland, as well as six from the Czech Republic and two each from Latvia and Denmark, were also drafted this year.
As for where the draftees were playing, here are the numbers: 48 spent last season with the OHL, 32 with the WHL and 19 with the QMJHL. (Check back at Frozen Futures for more detailed pieces on each of the Canadian Hockey League subleagues).
Twenty-four players came from the USHL, while twenty high-schoolers were picked.
Other leagues represented include the WCHA and AJHL, who each had four picks, the BCHL with five and NAHL and CCHA with two each. The EJHL and CCHL were also represented among this year’s pool, along with Sweden, Czech, Finland, Russia, Denmark, H-east, Swiss, and several national junior teams.