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Seven Rounds, Seven Picks

By WBH, 07/06/22, 4:30PM CDT


Presented by Karen’s Print Rite

The National Hockey League’s 2022 Draft begins on Thursday evening.  The first choice will be made shortly after 6 p.m. Central Time.  Then on Friday, selections will resume at 10 a.m. with Rounds Two through Seven, adding up to a total of 225 total picks.

Fans who watch draft coverage – particularly on Day Two – will likely hear that future NHL players can come out of any round.  The Waterloo Black Hawks can prove that.  Waterloo has had at least one player reach the NHL via all seven rounds of the draft, and then some.

Today, Karen’s Print Rite highlights the top Black Hawks alumni from each round of, based on their NHL performance to date.

1st Round
Brock Boeser (2015, Vancouver)

No Black Hawk has been picked earlier than Boeser, who was chosen in the 23rd slot.  In 2015, he became Waterloo’s first opening round pick in more than two decades.  Boeser made his first appearance for Vancouver just less that two years after his last game in Waterloo.  To this point, the Burnsville, Minnesota, native has spent his entire professional career with the Canucks, producing 121 goals and 135 assists in 324 regular season games.  Among Black Hawks alumni at the NHL level, Boeser ranks fourth in both goals and points, and he is likely to be in Vancouver as he continues to add to those totals.  Late last week, he finalized a new three-year deal with the team.

2nd Round
Brandon Montour (2014, Anaheim)

Montour may be among the best examples ever for what a successful season in the United States Hockey League can mean in the eyes on NHL scouts.  From relative obscurity in Canadian Junior B hockey to becoming the USHL Player of the Year, Montour made a strong impression on the Anaheim Ducks.  Leapfrogging from Waterloo to UMass to the AHL, he was skating for Anaheim just 13 months after wrapping up his Black Hawks career.  Over the span of his six-year NHL career, he has been traded twice near the league deadline: to Buffalo in 2019, then to Florida in the spring of 2021.  Signing a free agent contract with the Panthers last summer, Montour could be part of their plans for at least two more seasons.

3rd Round
Rem Pitlick (2016, Nashville)

Sweaters for three different organizations bore Pitlick’s name in 2021/22.  During training camp and the preseason, he was with the Nashville Predators, for whom he had made his debut in 2019.  The Minnesota Wild claimed him on waivers just as the regular season was beginning.  He played 20 games for them before he was on the move again.  Landing in Montreal, Pitlick played 46 of his 77 career NHL games during the mid-to-late stages of this past season.  He had nine goals and 17 as a Canadien.

4th Round
Craig Smith (2009, Nashville)

Smith was bypassed during his first year of NHL Draft eligibility.  In his second year, he still fell to the fourth round, despite tying for second in USHL points (76), ranking second in assists (48), and landing in the top 10 with 28 goals.  Over nine seasons as a member of the Predators, Smith reached the 20-goal mark five times.  For the past two years, he has skated for the Boston Bruins.  Smith’s NHL career has been among the most successful of any former Hawk.  Next season, he will try to become the third Waterloo alum with 400 NHL points (currently 398) and 200 goals (currently 191), trailing only Joe Pavelski and Jason Blake in each category.

5th Round
Cal Petersen (2013, Buffalo)

To date, no other Black Hawks draft pick has reached the NHL without playing at least one game as a member of the team which selected him.  The Sabres did not sign Petersen during the four years they held his rights.  In that time, he led Waterloo to an Anderson Cup and became a star at Notre Dame, where he posted 11 shutouts and still ranks second in career save percentage for the program.  Leaving school following his junior season, Petersen signed with the L.A. Kings in 2017.  During the fall of the 2018/19 campaign, he made his NHL debut.  That also made him the first (and to date, the only) goaltender to reach the NHL after playing as a Black Hawk.

6th Round
Andrew Alberts (2001, Boston)

Alberts enjoyed a steady nine-year NHL career with four clubs after playing in Waterloo during some of the last seasons before the USHL earned Tier 1 status.  His frame (6’ 5”) helped make him an intriguing prospect, and Alberts continued to develop under the Bruins’ watchful eyes as he played at Boston College.  A defensive defenseman (his biggest offensive year in the NHL was 13 points), Alberts was part of five playoff teams, including the 2010/11 Vancouver Canucks, who reached the Stanley Cup Final.  Among former Hawks, he remains fifth in regular season games played (459) and sixth in playoff appearances (31).

7th Round
Joe Pavelski (2003, San Jose)

Only a few players from anywhere have ever had more successful careers after being drafted in the seventh round.  Doug Gilmour and Henrik Zetterberg have more points than Pavelski’s 924.  Gilmour and Todd Marchant have played more regular season games (Pavelski stands at 1,168 after having perfect attendance this winter at age 37).  When it comes to playoff appearances and points, only the Hall of Famer Gilmour tops Pavelski among seventh rounders.  Signed to remain in Dallas for 2022/23, Pavelski’s second stop in the league has already included three productive seasons after 13 years in San Jose.  He is the only Black Hawk to appear in multiple NHL All-Stars games, including his performance in Vegas earlier this year.

Bonus 8th Round
John Gruden (1990, Boston)

At one time, the NHL Draft was considerably longer.  Gruden was an 8th rounder who went on to join the Boston Bruins and later the Ottawa Senators.  He played in 92 games and returned to the NHL over the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders.  Gruden and Tom Bissett (1986, 11th Round, Detroit Red Wings) are the only alumni to reach the NHL after being selected outside the first seven rounds.

Where Are They Now Features are presented by Karen’s Print Rite.  Photo of Brock Boeser provided by the Vancouver Canucks.