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July 01. 2013 8:10PM

Sanford excited to join Capitals


Zach Sanford, Pinkerton Academy of Derry, 2012 New Hampshire Union Leader All-State boys' hockey (Courtesy)

IT WAS a whirlwind adventure for Manchester's Zach Sanford on Sunday.

The 18-year-old was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the second round (61st overall) during Sunday's NHL Entry Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Following his selection, Sanford, the 2012 New Hampshire Union Leader All-State Player of the Year, was whisked up on stage for the standard donning of the jersey photo op, then met with Capitals staff members and did a few interviews.

"It was crazy. I was getting a little antsy in my seat before I got picked," Sanford said. "It was a lot of fun, though. It was a great place, really packed. The Devils fans were really into it."

Sanford played at Pinkerton Academy in Derry two years ago before joining Middlesex to play junior hockey this past season. Washington traded three picks to move into position to take Sanford.

"That was a great feeling," Sanford said. "I had talked to them a few times before so I knew they had some interest."

Sanford said he will be attending Capitals development camp next week and will join Middlesex teammate and Windham resident Conor MacPhee, who is headed to Providence College and was invited by Washington earlier this year.

"I'm excited about going to camp and getting started," said Sanford. "Conor MacPhee will be there and I know him, so it will be nice to have someone I know there."

Sanford will play junior hockey with Waterloo in the USHL in the fall and has committed to Boston College for 2014.

If all goes according to plan, Sanford could find himself skating with superstar Alexander Ovechkin with the Caps in a few years.

"He's one of the best players in the league and the world," Sanford said. "I hope to be able to play with him someday."




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GRADING THE BRUINS, KINGS: The depth of the 2013 NHL draft class was good news for local hockey fans.

Good news because neither the Boston Bruins nor the Los Angeles Kings (and by extension, the Manchester Monarchs) had a first-round draft pick on Sunday.

Los Angeles had to wait until the 37th pick and Boston's first selection came at No. 60, one pick away from the very end of round two.

But, thanks to that aforementioned depth, both teams still snagged some players who should help out somewhere along the road and could be visiting (or playing in) Verizon Wireless Arena with their respective AHL teams.

The Bruins have a need on the blue line. Yes, young players like Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug should be in the mix for years to come and Matt Bartkowski could develop into an every day defenseman.

But the Bruins are also getting long in the tooth on D, with Zdeno Chara (36 years old) and Dennis Seidenberg (31) closer to the end than the beginning.

To that end, second round pick Linus Arnesson (out of Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite League) should be able to help in a year or two.

The 18-year-old is 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. Scouting reports indicate that he should develop into a nice stay-at-home defenseman who can skate well and makes good decisions with the puck. He's not going to light it up on offense, but can make some plays.

"He's a steady defenseman, takes away ice, very difficult to take one on one, responsible, sticks up for his teammates," assessed Bruins director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith. "He plays a good puck-moving game and has size to go with it."

Boston selected another defenseman, Wiley Sherman (Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.) in the fifth round at No. 150. Sherman is a monster at 6-foot-6 and if he can be shaped from the raw material, could be a force.

"He's a raw player right now but he's athletic. He's a good skater, he can make a good first pass," said Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning. "We're hoping he develops into a defensive, stay at home D-man (who can) make a good first pass, play physical. If he hits his high side, we are hoping he can kind of play like a Hal Gill style of game."

Two other picks, Swedish left wing Peter Cehlarik (90th overall) and local boy Ryan Fitzgerald (120th, from North Reading, Mass. and son of former Bruin Tom Fitzgerald), are potential future Bruins, though it will be a few years yet for them to develop.

The final two picks, wingers Anton Blidh (180th) and Mitchell Dempsey (210th) face longer odds to ever see the NHL, but could earn their way to Providence in a couple years.

For Los Angeles (and Monarchs fans hoping to see some of the Kings' prospects in Manchester soon) it was a mixed bag draft class.

L.A. moved up via trade (dealing three picks) to draft left wing Valentin Zykov at No. 37 and he appears to be a legitimate can't-miss NHL player.

The book on Zykov (6-feet, 208 pounds) is that he should fit the L.A. system very well. Zykov plays with a high motor and works hard off the ice.

Offensively, Zykov is explosive. He will likely spend some time in Manchester as he transitions to the pro game and could be here as soon as this fall.

The Kings' next three picks are all junior hockey prospects who might not be seen in Manchester for a while, if at all: right wing Justin Auger (103rd, Guelph of the OHL), right wing Hudson Fasching (118th, USA under-18, USHL) and goalie Patrick Bartosak (146th, Red Deer, WHL).

Fasching is the most intriguing of those picks. He has good size and skill and had some buzz around him prior to last season but did not break out as expected. He will likely be given a chance to prove himself in Manchester in a year or two.

The final three picks fall into the long-shot/long-term project categories: center Jonny Brodzinski (148th, St. Cloud State), defenseman Zach Leslie (178th, Guelph, OHL) and left wing Dominik Kubalik (191st, Sudbury, OHL).

Overall, the Bruins' and Kings' draft classes both grade out somewhere around a "C" thanks to having no first-round picks, taking solid second rounders and the usual gambles/question-mark players in the later rounds.

But as always, only time can truly grade the 2013 crop.










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Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email is iclark@unionleader.com.


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