The Knights crossed two major items off their offseason checklist following Tuesday’s NAHL Entry Draft. With eight new draft picks in the fold, the team is another step closer to completing construction of their 2017-18 roster.
“It was a good week,” said Knights NAHL head coach Tom Kowal. “Between finishing out our tender class and our draft class, we’ve added some impressive talent to bring to camp.”
With the 12th overall selection in the draft, the Knights made Gabe Temple, a right-handed forward from Fowlerville, Michigan, their first pick.
“Gabe is a skilled, gritty forward,” said Knights NAHL assistant coach Andrew Whiteside. “He’s an impressive skater; he plays bigger than his size, and he’s ahead of the curve with his hockey smarts.”
The 2000 birth year, already standing at 6 feet and 183-pounds, made a name for himself playing in the T1EHL U16 for Victory Honda U16 last season. He scored 10 goals and 13 assists in 32 regular season games and built on that with 2-7-9 in four playoff games.
Turning 17 in just two weeks, the Knights top pick is already committed to playing division one hockey for Michigan Tech in the WCHA.
“Gabe projects as an impact player,” said Whiteside. “That blend talent and want-to is something we value highly on our team.”
The Knights dipped into a talented pool of offensive prospects again by taking Justin Engelkes, a left-handed forward from Verona, Wisconsin in round two. Another 2000-born prospect, Engelkes’ potential has earned him a college commitment to Miami University (Ohio).
“Justin is another quality two-way forward that plays the NAHL-style game,” said Knights scout Justin Schreiber. “He plays a very aggressive, physical style of hockey and can put the puck in the net as well.”
At 5-11, 185 and still room to grow, Engelkes brings with him the valuable experience of playing 37 games for Team Wisconsin U16 last year. That was supplemented by six games in the USHS and five games at the USA-S16 development camp in which he scored three goals and three assists in five games played.
In round three, the Knights spent the first of two picks on Riley Prattson, a ’99 forward from the Selects Hockey Academy 18U. With the selection, the Knights added a third player already-committed to play division one hockey. Set to skate for Providence College in 2018-19, Prattson immediately brings scoring touch to the Knights roster.
“He’s a fast, skilled scorer,” said Whiteside. “He might not be the biggest player, but his speed and ability to get up ice and make plays with the puck are dangerous.”
A right-handed shot, Prattson has been an offensive asset every stop of the way in his young hockey career, most recently scoring four goals and seven assists in five games played in the USPHL 18U.
The California-native has partaken in USA Selects Development Camps in each of the last three years. This past trip saw him pick up four goals and three helpers in five contests.
After Prattson was taken with the 57th pick, the Knights used pick number 58 on goalie Christian Stoever.
“Christian is a super-talented, young goaltender that will be able to jump in and play juniors right away,” said Schreiber. “We are very excited about Christian’s future and his time in the Knights crease.”
Stoever joins Gabe Temple as the second member of Victory Honda U16 to join the Knights roster, where Stoever played in 19 games last season.
With an 8-6-1 record and a 2.74 GAA, the Northville, Michigan-native will have an opportunity to help fill the crease following the departure of Grant Valentine.
The fourth round saw the Knights add Mason Klee as the lone blue-liner in the team’s 2017 draft class. A two-year veteran of the Colorado Thunderbirds, Klee built off a strong U16 season in 2015-16 with an even more productive U18 performance last year.
With four goals and nine assists in 31 games, the righty, ’99 birth year proved his dependability is not limited to his own end of the ice.
“Mason is a versatile defenseman that can make plays at both ends of the ice,” said Schreiber. “We valued his skating ability and his poise to keep things simple and not make mistakes under pressure.”
In round five, the Knights went back to the offense, bolstering their forecheck with the addition of Lincoln Hatten. A 2000-birth year with a 6 foot 2 inch frame, Hatten makes an impact with his physicality up and down the ice.
“He’s a player who got better every time we evaluated him,” said Whiteside. “He’s a skilled, big forward and stood out on one of the better midget rosters in the country.”
Hatten scored nine goals and 12 assists in 21 regular season games for the Dallas Stars U16 team in the T1EHL in 2016-17. He added two more assists in the playoffs, confirming the right-handed shot’s ability to contribute consistently in the offensive zone.
With their sixth round pick, the Knights added another righty forward in Tucker Chapman. Chapman has spent the last five years as a mainstay for the Lourdes Eagles of the USHS, finishing 2nd in school history in games played (128), 3rd in goals (60), 5th in assists (44) and 4th in points (104) per eliteprospects.com.
“Tucker is a skilled forward that uses his elite skating ability to create space for himself on the rush,” said Schreiber. “We expect Tucker to come in and contribute for the Knights right away.”
In the seventh round, the Knights made their final selection with the pick of Shawn Kennedy.
“Shawn is a player that’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas” said Whiteside. “He’s big, he plays a mature game, and he’ll take the puck right to the net.”
Coming off back-to-back years as a CCHL Champion with the Carleton Place Canadians, the Ontario-native has been a consistent producer of points and minutes. In 127 games over the past two seasons, Kennedy has recorded 27 goals and 38 assists between the regular season and playoffs.
“He’s a big, power, two-way forward with a really high upside.”
With the eight draft picks and ten tenders, the Knights have completed their 30-man protected list this week by adding 11 forwards, five defensmen and two goaltenders.
“We feel good about the balance of this group in their ages, talents and past experience,” said Kowal of his new crop of players. “Having a lot of guys with multiple years of junior eligibility left gives our coaches a lot of upside to work with.”
Of the 18 players added from the draft and tender process, there are four players born in 1998, seven in 1999, and seven in 2000.
“We have a good veteran core coming back from last year’s team. Four of our tenders played and practiced with our NAHL team last year and another played in our division. Between our staff and having those veterans to help teach these younger players really gives us confidence in their development and how our roster is shaping up heading into next season.”
With much of the offseason major lifting under way there’s still much work to be done. The Knights will host an Open Camp in St. Paul, Minnesota June 16th to the 18th, open to any 1997-2001 birth year interested in trying out for the Knights.
The Knights will then hold an invite-only main camp from their home rink of the Revolution Ice Centre from July 20-23rd as they fill out the rest of their roster for the 2017-18 season.