The Columbus franchise selected defenseman Toby Heaslip from the New Jersey Hitmen of the EJHL with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 United States Hockey League Draft, franchise Director of Hockey Operations Don Harkins announced Thursday. Heaslip led a group of 19 players selected and four players signed to tenders by the Columbus franchise in their inaugural USHL draft, which was held on Thursday.
“I am very excited about the kids that we selected today who are going to be key contributors to our new franchise,” Harkins said. “These are some of the top young prospects who are going to get the chance to pursue their dreams of playing Division I college hockey.”
In the first 10 rounds, the Columbus franchise went on to select defenseman Nolan Ryan (Chicago Chill Midget) – 2nd round/16th overall; forward Danny Hobbs (Stanstead College Prep) – 3rd round/28th overall; forward Sean McCauley (Texas Tornados-NAHL) – 5th round/52nd overall; forward Kris Massaro (Shadyside Academy) – 6th round/64th overall; forward Andrew Hamburg (Dallas Stars Midget) – 7th round/73rd overall; forward James Gallagher (Marquette Electricians Midget) – 8th round/80th overall; forward Jason Simota (Youngstown Phantoms-NAHL) – 9th round/88th overall; and defenseman John Ryder (Pikes Peak Miners Midget) – 10th round/92nd overall to round out the first 10 rounds. The club traded its fourth round pick to Waterloo for the rights to forward Kyle Follmer.
In rounds 11-19, Columbus selected forward Nate Hennig (Sante Fe -NAHL) – 11th round/95th overall; forward Ryan Fuller (Texas Tornado-NAHL) – 12th round/96th overall; forward Zach Henry (Team Illinois Midget) – 13th round/97th overall; defenseman Tyler Bowman (Belle Tire Midget) – 14th round/101st overall; defenseman Charles Brockett (Cleveland Barons Midget, Shaker Hts., OH) – 15th round/113th overall; defenseman Adam Comrie (Montgomery Blue Devils U-16) – 16th round/125th overall; goaltender Ian Keserich (Ohio State University -CCHA) – 17th round/137th overall; forward Mike Degrazia (Sante Fe -NAHL) – 18th round/149th overall; and forward Vinnie Bradley (Little Caesars Midget) – 19th round/161st overall.
As an expansion team, Columbus was able to sign four players to tenders prior to the Draft, signing forward Tim Hall (Pittsburgh Hornets U-16), forward Joel Lundstrom (Pike Peak Miners Midget), forward Daniel Dries (Victory Honda Midget) and goaltender Drew Palmisano (Victory Honda Midget)
The USHL Board of the Governors, USA Hockey's only Tier I-sanctioned league, announced on Wednesday that membership in the league had been approved for a franchise to play in Columbus beginning in the 2006-07 season. The team will play its home games at 18,136-seat Nationwide Arena, home of the National Hockey League's Columbus Blue Jackets.