NHL tabs Nelson, four more

MONTREAL — Ty Nelson is headed to the Emerald City, and he’s not going alone.

The Seattle Kraken chose defenceman Nelson of the Ontario Hockey League’s North Bay Battalion in the third round, 68th overall, of the National Hockey League Draft on Friday.

Nelson led an OHL-high five Battalion members taken on the second day of the seven-round draft at the Bell Centre, with centre Kyle Jackson, chosen 196th overall in the seventh round, also picked by Seattle, which played its inaugural season in 2021-22.

The Detroit Red Wings selected defenceman Tnias Mathurin in the fifth round at No. 137, while goaltender Dom DiVincentiis was named in the seventh round, 207th overall, by the Winnipeg Jets. The Florida Panthers completed the run on Troops by choosing centre Liam Arnsby seven picks later.

The five selections represent the second most Battalion members chosen in an NHL draft, after the six taken in 2000, led by defenceman Rostislav Klesla and left winger Raffi Torres at fourth and fifth overall respectively. The Battalion, then based in Brampton, had four taken in 2003, 2005 and 2006. The previous high in the North Bay era, since the 2013-14 season, was three in 2016.

North Bay’s five picks were followed by the Guelph Storm with four and the Kingston Frontenacs, London Knights and Owen Sound Attack with three apiece. A total of 35 OHL skaters and goaltenders were chosen among the 225 named by the 32 NHL clubs.

In the Canadian Hockey League, which had 82 players chosen, only the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League matched the Battalion total. The WHL saw 28 players called, while the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League had 19.

“It was goosebumps,” Nelson said of being drafted. “It’s a dream come true.

“It was fantastic, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Seattle organization.”

A Toronto native who turned 18 on March 30, Nelson was the No. 1 choice in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens minor midgets. Eleventh in scoring among OHL rearguards last season with nine goals and 42 assists for 51 points in 66 games, he tied for fifth place in rookie scoring and was first among defencemen.

Hockey Canada announced this week that Nelson has been added to the roster for the national junior team’s summer development camp scheduled July 23-27 at Calgary.

Seattle chose five OHL players among its 11 picks, including centre Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs, long touted as the likely first overall pick, who slipped to fourth. The Kraken also tabbed David Goyette of the Sudbury Wolves in the second round and fellow centre Tucker Robertson of the Peterborough Petes in the seventh.

Mathurin, who turned 18 on Jan. 15, is an Ajax, Ont., resident whom North Bay took in the third round of the 2020 Priority Selection from the Ajax-Pickering Raiders minor midgets. He had three goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 44 games last season, in which he spent time injured.

Jackson scored 30 goals and earned 32 assists for 62 points in 45 games as he too was injured for an extended period. An Ottawa resident who turned 19 last Oct. 17, he was a third-round choice in 2018 from the Toronto Red Wings minor midgets.

DiVincentiis posted a won-lost-extended record of 14-8-1, a goals-against average of 2.59 and a save percentage of .907 in 27 games. The Bolton, Ont., resident, who turned 18 on March 4, was a sixth-rounder in 2020 from the Vaughan Kings minor midgets.

Battalion captain Arnsby, another victim of injury, had nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 46 games. North Bay’s first-round pick in 2019 from the Don Mills Flyers minor midgets, he turned 18 last Nov. 20.

The Montreal Canadiens chose Slovakian left winger Juraj Slafkovsky, who played last season for TPS Turku in Finland, with the first overall pick Thursday night, when the first round was conducted. It marked the first time the Canadiens selected first since 1980, when they took centre Doug Wickenheiser of the WHL’s Regina Pats.

Players are first-time eligible for the NHL Draft in the year they turn 18, unless they are born Sept. 16 or later, in which case they must wait until the following year.

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