CHICAGO — Captain Cole Guttman (Los Angeles, Calif./St. Cloud State), affiliate Santeri Virtanen (Kirkkonummi, FIN) and 2017 Phase II selection Bryce Misley (Calgary, AB/Vermont) were drafted into the NHL on day two of the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago.
Guttman was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round of the NHL Draft, 180th overall. He received numerous accolades for a wonderful season in Dubuque, including being named to the USHL All-Rookie First Team. His first season in the league saw him post 54 points, finish the year as a +21, and rank third in team scoring, and tied for 7th in overall league scoring.
“I’m really excited. I’ve heard all great things about Tampa Bay. They play my style of game and are a great organization. There’s a lot of hard work yet to come,“ said Guttman. “Dubuque helped me develop a lot. Last year we had an awesome group of guys and a wonderful coaching staff and I think that was huge for my development heading into the draft.”
Guttman becomes the 22nd player in new Saints history to have been drafted by an NHL club while playing full time with Dubuque.
“Cole is a great young man. He has continued to work on his game at every level, and every step of the way,” said Fighting Saints head coach Oliver David. “Despite a shortened season last year, he was able to establish himself as a player to be considered by NHL clubs on draft day, and Tampa rewarded him for that. We are excited to continue our work with Cole.”
“I have no doubt that #CaptainCalifornia will grow as a result of being drafted.”
Guttman missed the first month of the season, but did not miss a beat upon his return. He scored his first USHL goal in his second regular season game, and following that, posted a 12-game point streak. The Californian’s consistency was put on complete display throughout the year, as he notched a point in 38 of 53 games played in the 2016–17 season.
Virtanen, an affiliate player who spent time with the Fighting Saints during the 2016 preseason slate, was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the 4th round, 105th overall, on Saturday. The Finnish forward dominated his age group as part of TPS U20, and as a big part of Finland’s representation at the U18 World Junior Championships, where he scored 6 points in 7 games for his native country.
Later in the 4th round, Misley was selected by the Minnesota Wild, 116th overall. The Fighting Saints took him in the 16th round of Phase II after seeing him complete a strong second season with the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) where he scored 62 points in 46 games.
“The draft is best used as motivation, drafted or not. If you’re drafted, it’s a sign that one team was willing to invest in your development,” David said. “If you’re undrafted, it doesn’t mean the other 31 teams aren’t willing. Give them a reason to continue tracking you.”
“As the USHL has proven, we are a league full of NHL Draft-worthy players, and playing alongside and against our stiff competition each game is valuable to NHL clubs.”
Overall, the USHL saw 40 players, and 8 alumni, have their name called by NHL clubs over the weekend.