Forward Nick Swaney vaulted to among the top 140 North American prospects in the final Central Scouting rankings ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft; Saturday was Swaney’s draft day when he was picked by the Minnesota Wild in the seventh round.
During the 2016/17 season, the Lakeville, Minnesota, native moved among the top ten goal scorers during the Waterloo Black Hawks’ junior era. Over two full schedules, and with limited appearances during two other campaigns, Swaney scored 66 regular season goals in 120 appearances.
“I speak for the entire organization in saying that I am so happy for Nick,” said Waterloo Black Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley. “He was a remarkable scorer when he first arrived as an affiliate. His goals have been big for us, but I am proudest to have watched Nick grow into a leader and our captain last year.”
Leading the Hawks to the second-highest win total in club history in 2016/17, the 19-year-old was not held more than two consecutive regular season games without a goal or assist. Swaney tied as Waterloo’s top point producer (51 in 47 games) during 2016/17 after leading the team (50 in 54 games) a year earlier. He was also one of the United States Hockey League’s most responsible forwards, tying for second in the USHL last winter with a +29 plus/minus differential. Moving on to the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs next fall, Swaney’s career goal total ranks fifth among Waterloo junior players; his 115 points tie for 16th.
Stepping away from the Black Hawks last December, Swaney was named to the 2016 World Junior A Challenge All-Star Team. He recorded two goals and two assists during the tournament. The United States claimed the gold medal. Former Waterloo scoring stars Craig Smith, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Tom Novak each earned similar honors during previous editions of the World Junior A Challenge. Like Swaney, all were NHL Draft picks, with Smith and Hinostroza already reaching the league with the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks respectively.
Swaney is the first Waterloo player to ever be selected by the Wild during the draft. Although alumni Zach Palmquist and Justin Kloos have signed NHL contracts with Minnesota in recent years, no former Waterloo player has yet appeared for Minnesota during a regular season game.