-- Taken from NAHL.com --
Over its 31 years of operation, the North American Hockey League has seen a number current and former players taken in the NHL Entry Draft, and this year shouldn’t be any different.
Two players in particular - Texas forward Brad McCabe and St. Louis forward Pat Maroon - are eagerly anticipating the proceedings staged for this coming Friday and Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Both were recognized by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau on its final rankings for 2007 draft-eligibles released in April, with McCabe listed at No. 199 overall among North American skaters and Maroon at No. 208.
“I’m trying not to think about it too much and trying not to get nervous,” McCabe said of the draft. “Obviously it’s a dream to even get listed or hope to get drafted, but I’m just trying to work out and stay on the ice.”
“I’m excited. I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” said Maroon, who, according to some NHL scouts, could go anywhere from the third to sixth round. “I guess it’s all up for grabs if I get taken, though.”
Maroon took the NAHL by storm this past season. He won the league’s scoring title with 95 points, including 40 goals, in 57 games en route to MVP honors and a spot on the All-NAHL First Team while leading the Bandits to a Robertson Cup national championship.
“Pat has everything you can’t teach in a player,” said Bandits coach Jon Cooper. “He has size, hands and the innate ability to see things happen on the ice before everybody else. He’s a special player.”
A St. Louis native, Maroon, who just wrapped up his second season with the Bandits, was draft eligible last year but wasn’t selected.
“I know I wasn’t ready to get drafted and I had to work a little bit harder,” said the Ferris State University recruit.
While Maroon plans on following the NHL draft on TV and on the Internet, McCabe is still contemplating how he’s going to spend what could be one the most memorable days of his hockey career.
“I haven’t decided if I’m actually going to watch, or if I’m just going to go do something and wait until one of my friends tell me,” he said. “I think I’ll probably not watch.”
McCabe, who is bound for the University of Alaska-Anchorage this fall, started the season with the Alaska Avalanche before being dealt to Texas midseason. He finished the regular season with 21 goals for 36 points in 42 games.
Being taken in the draft would be a dream come true for the Oregon native.
“Every kid growing up wants to get drafted and this opportunity is flattering. It’s really exciting,” said McCabe. “If I got drafted, it would definitely be something for me to use as a steppingstone to get more confidence and stuff like that. I’m hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.”
Ditto for Maroon.
“It would mean a lot to me if I got drafted, because it’s one step closer to my goal of playing in the NHL,” he said.
Both players have been contacted by NHL teams regarding their draft potential and both credit the NAHL for affording them exposure to the highest level.
“Last season, I played Junior B and probably wasn’t going anywhere,” said McCabe. “Luckily I got a shot with the Alaska team and I made the best of it. I loved every second and I tell everyone I know to go play in the league.
“It’s done everything for me and I owe everything so far I’ve accomplished to it, because I wouldn’t be where I am now for it wasn’t for the league.”
“It’s developed me a lot,” said Maroon. “Last year (2005-06), especially, because I played with a lot of older guys; I was the young kid (as a junior in high school). It was a good experience for me. It’s a really good league.”
Though McCabe and Maroon were the only ones recognized by Central Scouting, other players have been in contact with NHL teams leading up to the draft, including Tornado defenseman Jake Newton and St. Louis defenseman Scooter Vaughan, a University of Michigan recruit.
“Scooter has as good of feet for a defenseman I’ve ever seen,” said Cooper of the All-NAHL Second Team and Rookie Team selection. “Couple that with his skill and a mean streak and you have a hockey player.”
NHL scouts have also been keeping tabs on Alexandria forward Stephen Sperry and defenseman Joe Hartman.
Former NAHL players ranked by NHL Central Scouting include forward Andrew Conboy (Wichita Falls), who is listed at No. 149, and Carter Camper (Cleveland Jr. Barons), who is at No. 200.