On Sunday June 30th at the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey Jason Dickinson, Hunter Garlent, Tyler Bertuzzi, Ben Harpur, Justin Auger, and Zac Leslie will hope to fulfill a lifelong dream of being drafted to the NHL
Leading up to the draft, GuelphStorm.com will revisit the past 16 NHL Entry Drafts beginning with the 1993 draft reviewing the many Storm players that have been grabbed by NHL clubs and where their professional careers would take them.
The 1997 NHL Entry draft was a light one for the Storm as only one player would get the call from an NHL team. The year Joe Thornton was selected first overall, Storm forward Kent McDonell would go to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 9th round, 225th overall. A member of Canada’s Silver Medal World Junior team in 1999, McDonell went unsigned by the Hurricanes, re-entered the draft and was subsequently selected by the Detroit Red Wings in 1999.
In Buffalo at the Marine Midland Arena, a total of 258 players were drafted in 1998, including five Storm players. Manny Malhotra became the team’s third first round selection going 7th overall to the New York Rangers. Drafted six picks behind Vincent Lecavalier, the Mississauga native split his first two professional seasons between the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack and the NHL’s New York Rangers. Many still point to Malhotra as an example of a player that was rushed to the NHL too fast at the expense of his development. As an 18 year old rookie with the Rangers, Manny saw little icetime in his 73 games. During his second NHL campaign, with 100 NHL games under his belt, the Rangers actually returned Malhotra to the Storm where he finished the season before reporting to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. However, since 2001-02 Malhotra has been a constant in the NHL. Traded to the Dallas Stars in the middle of the 2001-02 season, the 28 year old has played 634 games with three different teams. He was acquired by Columbus in 2003-04 and played four seasons with the Blue Jackets before signing with the San Jose Sharks for one season in 2009. He recorded a career-high in goals with San Jose, before joining the Canucks on a three-year deal. In his first season with Vancouver, Malhotra suffered a major injury to his left eye, requiring several surgeries. Despite having lost a significant amount of his vision, he returned the same year to compete in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. He struggled to play with the injury until Canucks management placed him on the injured reserve for the remainder of the 2012-13 season in February 2013.
Drafted in the second round, 51st overall, Ian Forbes was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers. Taken in the same round as Mike Fisher, John Erskine, Mike Ribeiro and Steve Moore, Forbes had a successful minor league career. He suited up in 38 games with the Philadelphia Phantoms over two seasons and played the rest of his career bouncing around the ECHL. Playing with the Trenton Titans, Florida Everblades, San Diego Gulls, Peoria Rivermen, the Brampton native finished off his professional career in Utah where he enjoyed three seasons with the Grizzlies.
The fourth round of the 1998 draft saw two Storm players go to NHL teams, just five picks apart. Eric Beaudoin and Chris Madden were drafted among the likes of Alexi Ponikarovsky, Shawn Horcoff and Krys Barch. Beaudoin was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning 92nd overall. The 28 year old played 53 games in the NHL for the Florida Panthers across three seasons recording 11 points (3 goals and 8 assists). In between he played in the AHL for the Lousville Panthers, Utah Grizzlies, San Antonio Rampage and in 2004-05, his last season in the league with the Edmonton Roadrunners. Since then the Ottawa native took his game overseas playing for six different teams including Biel of the Swiss-A league where he played last season.
With the 97th overall pick, the Carolina Hurricanes would take Storm goaltender Chris Madden. Selected two picks ahead of Edmonton Oiler Shawn Horcoff, Madden never played a game in the NHL. The Liverpool New York native would bounce between the AHL and the ECHL playing for five different AHL teams and three ECHL teams. Eventually injuries would force the former Memorial Cup MVP to retire following his last professional season of hockey in 2005-06 when he suited up for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL.
Kevin Mitchell was the last Storm player selected in the 1998 NHL draft. In the 9th round, Mitchell was taken 234th overall by the Calgary Flames. The Bronx native split his professional career between the AHL and ECHL playing for five different teams. In 2004-05, he took his game to Europe. Other than a minor stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2006-07, Mitchell has remained overseas and played last season in Itay with Ritten Renon.