June 28, 2014
Two players with ties to the Notre Dame hockey program were selected on Saturday afternoon in the second day of the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft held at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Incoming freshman forward Jake Evans (Toronto, Ont.) was selected in the seventh round, 207th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. Before Evans was selected, forward Joe Wegwerth (Brewster, N.Y.), who has signed a national letter-of-intent to attend Notre Dame and will arrive in 2015-16, was selected in the fourth round of the draft, 92nd overall by the Florida Panthers. Wegwerth will play this coming year for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League (USHL).
The duo becomes the 75th and 76th Irish hockey players to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft in the program's history.
Wegwerth heard his name called by Florida with the second pick of the fourth round. A 6-3, 230-pound left wing who has spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program, Wegwerth signed his National Letter of Intent to play at Notre Dame in the early-signing period last November. He will spend the 2014-15 season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League.
A prototypical power forward, Wegwerth is big, strong and tough to stop. He's got good hands and is an offensive-minded player who continues to improve all aspects of his game. Strong on his skates, Wegwerth is good in the corners and in front of the net and is does not stray far from the physical play. In 60 games this season for the Under-18 team he had three goals and six assists for nine points and led the team with 123 penalty minutes. He was a member of the Under-18 team that won the gold medal in April at the World Under-18 championships. Last November, he helped the U.S. to a silver medal at the Four Nations Tournament in Finland. He started the 2013-14 season by being selected to play in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects game held in Pittsburgh in late September where he scored a goal for Team Mullen. Last season with the Under-17 team he had seven goals and six assists for 13 points in 27 games in a season cut short due to injuries. He was selected by Green Bay with in the 2014 USHL Entry Draft in the second round, 28th overall.
"I'm very excited right now. It's very hard to put into words right now," Wegwerth told panthers.com earlier today on waiting to be selected.
"It's hard, you are sitting there, nervous and anxious, then you hear your name called and it all goes away."
When asked about his style of play, Wegwerth said, "I consider myself a good two-way forward. I'm good in my own end of the ice and am a team player. I also like to play a physical game."
On the players he patterns his game after: "When I was growing up, I liked Marian Gaborik because I was a Wild and Ranger fan. As I got older, I like watching guys like Milan Lucic (Boston Bruins) and Bryan Bickell (Chicago Blackhawks). They play my style and they bring a lot to their teams."
Evans would have to wait a little longer as Montreal selected him with their final pick of the day, the 207th player selected among the 210 over the seven-round draft.
Evans is a 6-0, 172-pound right-handed forward who joins the Irish after spending two seasons with the St. Mikes Buzzers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) where he saw action at both right wing and center. A strong, all around player with above average skating ability, Evans is a skilled offensive player with good vision who can create scoring opportunities. Good with the puck, he can create space for himself on the ice and has good hands around the net. In his second season with the Buzzers, he was second in scoring with 16 goals and 47 assists for 63 points in 49 games. He had two power-play goals, one short-handed tally and three game winners as he helped the Buzzers to a 27-19-6-1 mark and third place in the South Division of the Southwest Conference. His 47 assists led the team as did his 18 assists on the power play. In five playoff games, he had five assists as St. Mikes lost to North York, four games to one in the quarterfinals. As a rookie in 2012-13, Evans had 12 goals and 32 assists for 44 points with three power-play goals and three game winners in a season that saw the Buzzers finish first in the South Division on the way to the OJHL championship. A finalist for the Canadian Junior Hockey League rookie of the year award, Evans has played two years with Team Canada East at the World Jr., A Challenge and was a first team OJHL all-prospect selection.
Wegwerth becomes the second Irish player selected by the Florida Panthers as he follows Rob Globke `04 who was selected in the second round, 40th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Evans is the eight Notre Dame player selected by Montreal since 1969. He follows Bill Nyrop `74 (1972), Eddie Bumbacco `74 (1972), Paul Clarke `77 (1975), Roger Bourque `77 (1975), John Schmidt `82 (1980), John DeVoe (1982) and Jarred Tinordi (2010).
On Friday afternoon prior to the start of the draft, graduated Notre Dame captain Jeff Costello (Milwaukee, Wis.) saw his rights traded for the second time this season. He was part of a trade between the Vancouver Canucks and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Costello was traded along with defenseman Jason Garrison and a 2015 seventh-round choice from Vancouver to Tampa Bay for Tampa's second pick in the 2014 draft, the 50th pick overall. Vancouver would later trade the pick to the Los Angeles Kings. Costello, who was drafted in 2010 by the Ottawa Senators, saw his rights traded for the first time at the trade deadline when they were traded to Vancouver for defenseman Patrick Mullen.
With Evans being selected by Montreal, the Irish will have nine players on the 2014-15 roster that have been drafted. He joins senior Robbie Russo (New York Islanders, fourth round, 2011), senior Austin Wuthrich (Washington, fourth round, 2012), junior Thomas DiPauli (Washington, fourth round, 2012), junior Steven Fogarty (New York Rangers, third round in 2011), junior Mario Lucia (Minnesota, second round, 2011), sophomore Vince Hinostroza (Chicago, sixth round, 2012) and fellow freshmen Connor Hurley (Buffalo, second round, 2013) and Cal Petersen (Buffalo, fifth round, 2013).