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College men’s hockey: Four Bulldogs, led by Hermantown’s Samberg, go in NHL Draft

Former Hermantown High School standout and incoming Minnesota Duluth freshman defenseman Dylan Samberg was taken in the second round of the NHL Draft, No. 43, by the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday in Chicago. Steve Kuchera / 1 / 3
Mikey Anderson2 / 3
Nick Swaney3 / 3

Hermantown’s Dylan Samberg said he didn’t want to travel to Chicago for the 2017 NHL Draft with high expectations in case he wasn’t drafted as high as projected.

Turns out Samberg had nothing to worry about. The incoming Minnesota Duluth freshman defenseman exceeded expectations. He was taken midway through the second round Saturday at United Center in Chicago, going No. 43 overall to the Winnipeg Jets.

“It’s definitely an honor to be selected by a great organization like Winnipeg,” Samberg said in a short interview posted to the Jets’ official Twitter account. “I’m just really excited to see what my future holds and to get to wear the Winnipeg jersey some day.”

Heading into the draft, Sports Illustrated had Samberg as the 71st best prospect overall. Others were higher on Samberg like TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button, a former NHL executive. He had Samberg at No. 52. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News had him at No. 48 while Button’s TSN colleague, Bob McKenzie, was almost on the money with Samberg at 44th after consulting with scouts from throughout the league.

Samberg recorded 11 goals and 23 assists during Hermantown’s run to a second consecutive state title, scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime of the state championship. He won the Reed Larson Award as the state’s best senior defenseman and was nominated for Minnesota Mr. Hockey.

Samberg verbally committed to UMD last June. This spring he signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Bulldogs in the fall and already is working out with his future UMD teammates at Amsoil Arena, where this week he said he was just going down to Chicago in hopes of enjoying the whole experience.

“I can’t wait for the season to start (at UMD),” a charismatic Samberg said Saturday in a live interview on NHL Network. “I’ve been working with some of the players there for a few weeks now. I just made my decision not long ago. I definitely think it’s a good decision for me and I just can’t wait to get started.”

Both Samberg and Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin expected the young defenseman to play at least one full season of juniors with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League before coming to UMD in 2018-19, at the earliest.

But fellow Hermantown native and defenseman Neal Pionk decided to leave UMD after his sophomore year and sign with the New York Rangers, leaving the door open for Samberg.

Samberg closed out last season playing for the Black Hawks, netting five points in 14 games with a plus-5 rating.

“Bringing him in a little bit early wasn’t the plan, but we’re excited to have him because some of the intangible things that he brings,” Sandelin said before the draft. “We had choices with other guys, but with him, the ability to go down and do well in the USHL at the end of the year was big.”

Bulldogs popular in draft

Samberg was one of three incoming UMD freshman drafted Saturday. A future Bulldog also was selected.

Samberg’s postseason defensive partner in Waterloo, Mikey Anderson of Roseville, Minn., went in the fourth round. He was taken 103rd overall by the Los Angeles Kings.

Mikey Anderson’s older brother, UMD sophomore defenseman Joey Anderson, went in the third round, 73rd overall, to the New Jersey Devils a year ago.

Mikey Anderson just completed his second full season with the Black Hawks. He is coming off a 34-point regular season (five goals, 29 assists), good for fifth among USHL defenseman.

He had two goals and an assist in eight postseason games playing alongside Samberg.

“In my mind, Mikey was the top defenseman in the USHL this season,” Waterloo coach and Superior native P.K. O’Handley said. “He does so many things which are not measured statistically, because he has special instincts, which always seem to put him in the right position to make a play.”

  • Stillwater High School outgoing senior forward Noah Cates, who is verbally committed to UMD, went in the fifth round, No. 137 overall, to the Philadelphia Flyers. He posted 23 goals and 47 assists in 28 games for the Ponies last season. Cates’ USHL rights are owned by the Omaha Lancers. He’s projected to join UMD in 2018-19.
  • Incoming UMD freshman forward Nick Swaney went in the seventh round, 209th overall, to the Minnesota Wild. He’s the first NHL draft pick out of Lakeville South High School (a second went six picks later). Swaney was Mikey Anderson’s teammate each of the past two seasons in Waterloo. He was the USHL’s 10th-leading scorer during the 2016-17 regular season with 26 goals and 25 assists.
Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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