Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft took place on Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, in a draft that saw a pair of Soo Greyhounds get selected, including forward Barrett Hayton and defenceman Rasmus Sandin.
This was just the third time in NHL Draft history that a pair of Soo Greyhounds were taken in the first round.
In the 1967 NHL Amateur Draft, a pair of Soo Greyhounds were taken in the first round, including Bob Tombari (Chicago Blackhawks) and Bob Smith (Pittsburgh Penguins).
That year, the Greyhounds played in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL).
In the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, a pair of Soo Greyhounds were taken in the first round, including Ron Francis (Hartford Whalers) and Steve Smith (Philadelphia Flyers).
Once the 2018 NHL Entry Draft got underway on Friday, June 22nd, it didn’t take long for Hounds second year forward Barrett Hayton to hear his name get called. The Peterborough, Ontario native, who was ranked 9th on the NHL Central Scouting Final Draft Rankings List, ended up being taken 5th overall by the Arizona Coyotes. Hayton, who was just one of seven 20 goal scorers on the Hounds during the 2017-2018 season, had 21 goals and 60 points in 63 regular season games.
His great season on the ice did not interfere with his studies though, as he was also the recipient of the Bobby Smith Trophy for the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year, becoming just the third Soo Greyhound to win that award, joining defenceman Darnell Nurse (2013), who is now playing with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and goaltender Jake McCracken (1997).
The Hounds second year forward obtained an 87% average this year as a grade 12 student at Superior Heights Secondary School. Hayton became the first Soo Greyhound to be selected 5th overall in the NHL Entry Draft since defenceman Richard Jackman, who went 5th overall to the Dallas Stars back in 1996.
And where is the NHL Entry Draft being held this year?
Twenty four picks later, former Hounds general manager Kyle Dubas took to centre stage at American Airlines Center in Dallas in his new role as Toronto Maple Leafs general manager.
Dubas, who is also the general manager of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, assembled the Marlies to their first ever Calder Cup title this year.
The Leafs, who held the 25th pick in this year’s draft, traded it to the St. Louis Blues for picks 29 and 76.
With the 29th overall pick, former Hounds general manager and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Kyle Dubas announced his first ever NHL draft pick by taking Soo Greyhounds rookie defenceman Rasmus Sandin.
The Uppsala, Sweden native led all OHL rookie defencemen in goals (12), assists (33) and points (45) in 51 regular season games. The 18 year old became the first Hounds defenceman to score 10 or more goals in a rookie season since Ryan Sproul (2011).
Sandin became just the second import player in Hounds history to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, joining Petr Taticek, who was selected in the 1st round (9th overall) by the Florida Panthers back in 2002.
And now switching from Dubas to Raftis!
In his four seasons as general manager of the Soo Greyhounds, Kyle Raftis brought in three players who went on to be first rounders in the NHL, including Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers), Barrett Hayton (Arizona Coyotes) and Rasmus Sandin (Toronto Maple Leafs).
All three of those players are eligible to return to the Hounds for the 2018-2019 season.