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NHL Draft: Proctor Academy's Walsh part of new breed

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

June 22. 2017 9:35PM
Defenseman Reilly Walsh, shown in action for Proctor Academy last winter, is seen as a pro prospect. The NHL Entry Draft is set for today and Saturday in Chicago. (COURTESY)

Now more than ever, National Hockey League teams value playmakers: fast, offensive-minded, puck-moving defensemen.

That’s exactly why Proctor Academy’s Reilly Walsh is a sought-after prospect entering this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft.

Walsh is undersized (5-foot-11, 181 pounds), but came in at No. 60 on the NHL Central Scouting Service’s final draft rankings of North American skaters.

“He’s like a fourth forward on the attack,” said Proctor Academy coach Mike Walsh, who is Reilly’s father. “Today’s game is relying on that type of player. (NHL) teams used to look for one of those guys. Then it became two. Now they want as many as they can get.”

This year’s draft will be held today and Saturday at the United Center in Chicago. It can be seen on NBC Sports Network today (7 p.m.) and the NHL Network on Saturday (10 a.m.).

Reilly began last season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel, returned to Proctor for his senior season, and then completed the USHL season with Chicago. He collected 30 goals and 39 assists in 30 games with Proctor. He became the first defenseman since Brian Leetch (Avon Old Farms, 1985-86) to lead New England prep schools in scoring.

“I think I’m a good breakout person with a high hockey IQ,” Reilly said. “Solid power play, special teams guy. The game is changing defensively and it kind of fits my style.”

Mike Walsh said Reilly met with 17 teams at the NHL Combine in Buffalo, and that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney visited Proctor twice to see Reilly.

“Some teams are constantly contacting him, some teams play things close to the vest,” he said. “I do know he had a good interview with the Bruins.”

Reilly, who grew up in Andover, has committed to play college hockey at Harvard. He also visited Yale and the University of New Hampshire.

“The combination of hockey and academics Harvard offers made it a really easy decision for me,” Reilly explained. “I value academics, and hockey is what I want to do with my life.”

Reilly said he will attend the draft with his father and his 15-year-old brother Ronan, who is a forward at Proctor.

“It’ll be awesome regardless of when I’m selected,” Reilly said. “I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’ll try to stay level-headed. I’m just going to be happy to be there.”

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Max Gildon, a defenseman who has committed to UNH, is another player who could be taken in the first few rounds this weekend. Gildon, who shoots left-handed, came in at No. 54 in the final Central Scouting Service rankings.

Gildon (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) lives in Plano, Texas, and has spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He originally committed to Wisconsin, but reopened the recruiting process last December, nine months after Tony Granato replaced Mike Eaves as Wisconsin’s head coach.

Gildon had 11 goals and 22 assists in 62 games with the NTDP last season. He also had four goals and two assists in seven games at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships, and helped the United States defeat Finland to win the gold medal.

rbrown@unionleader.com


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