The NHL draft came and went over the weekend, and the Tri-City Americans were shut out for the fourth time in seven years.
Tri-City defensemen Justin Hamonic and Michal Plutnar, along with Swedish forward Malte Strömwall, were the team’s best hope on the draft board. But after 211 picks, neither their names nor any other Americans were called.
“It’s not disappointing at all,” Tri-City general manager Bob Tory said. “We had an older hockey team, so you have less guys draft eligible. It’s about 17-year-olds, not 16, 18 or 19. Every year the composition of your team changes.”
With the success the Americans have had — winning four U.S. Division titles the last five years, with three trips to the Western Conference finals — they have gotten lower picks in the Western Hockey League bantam draft, which can affect the quality of players available.
“When you have success, there are less top players available,” Tory said. “When you pick lower in the draft, they are less likely to be players drafted by NHL teams. It has no bearing on anything. The (NHL) draft is just one function of what we do.
“When you have a Carey Price, he goes in the first round. When you have Drew Owsley or Ty Rimmer, they don’t get drafted, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t great players. The draft is an opportunity for a player to pursue a goal. Or, you can be like Brendan Shinnimin and still get an NHL contract.”
Shinnimin, who wasn’t taken in the WHL bantam draft or NHL draft, signed a free-agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes on March 2. Patrick Holland, who was drafted in the seventh round by Calgary in 2010, had his rights traded to Montreal last season. He signed with the Canadiens on March 7.
“Shawn Belle was taken in the first round (2003),” Tory said. “Chet Pickard was taken in the first round (2008), and their careers never really took off. Dylan Stanley was never drafted, and he’s still playing. So is Dylan Gyori. (The draft) is nice, but you can’t base your career on it.”