The Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning selected two New Hampshire players in Saturday’s NHL draft, while two other New Hampshire products were also selected.
The Lightning picked incoming University of New Hampshire defenseman Alex Gagne of Bedford in the sixth round with the 192nd overall pick.
Gagne, 18, a 6-foot-3, 207-pound left-shot defenseman, has spent the last two seasons in junior hockey with Cedar Rapids and Muskegon in the USHL. Before that he played for the New Hampshire Avalanche of Hooksett.
Tampa Bay picked Dartmouth commit defenseman Robert “Cooper” Flinton of Auburn in the seventh round with the 211th pick.
Flinton, 17, is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound left-shot left winger who has played the past three seasons at St. Pauls’ School in Concord. He was also in the Northern Cyclones program out of Hudson. Flinton is scheduled to join the Big Green in 2022.
Nate Benoit, 18, of Bow, was the first New Hampshire player taken. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound defenseman was taken in the sixth round, No. 182 overall, by the Minnesota Wild.
Benoit has spent the past two seasons with the Mount St. Charles junior program in Woonsocket, R.I., and is committed to the University of North Dakota for the fall of 2022.
Braden Hache of Manchester,18, a 6-foot-3, 201-pound defenseman, went in the seventh round, pick No. 210 overall, to the Florida Panthers.
Hache is a left-shot defenseman who has played the past two seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.
UNH commit to Sabres
Buffalo selected UNH-bound right winger Stiven Sardarian in the third round with the 88th pick overall.
Sardarian, 18, is a 6-foot-1, 154-pounder from St. Petersburg, Russia. He will spend a year in the USHL before joining the Wildcats in the fall of 2022.
Sweeney was impressed by his U18 performance.
“You saw the pockets of his high end ability,” said Sweeney. “Again, there are details that all young players have to learn and assimilate with the North American style. But he has attributes that I think we identified that the Boston Bruins need...the scoring and skill is at a premium and it’s hard to find. Fabian has a lot of those attributes.”
Lysell said that it was “a dream come true” to be picked by the Bruins, name-checking Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. He said his style of play is to challenge his opponents with his speed and get to the hard areas of the ice where the goals are scored.
He said the bump up to the men’s league was a learning experience.
“That’s a situation that’s tough, playing against men in SHL. It’s a tough league for sure. It’s really competitive and you’ve got to be prepared for each game. So that was obviously a jump to do, but I really enjoyed that, for sure. And I think being in that environment with the older guys and learning from them has helped me a lot. That’s something I’ll bring into the future,” said Lysell.
Lysell said he hoped to come to Boston for the Bruins development camp starting Aug. 2.
The B’s under Sweeney have placed a premium on character, which is why it was a bit eye-catching to see that some scouts have questioned Lysell’s. He’s been called overconfident and even arrogant for asking to jump up to the SHL at his age.
Leaning on the B’s European scout and former Bruin P.J. Axelsson’s recommendation, Sweeney said he was not concerned about Lysell’s character.
“There’s growing up to be done for a lot of young men and women and Fabian’s no different in that regard,” said Sweeney. “He’s made some real steps. We challenged him in all the interview processes and how his maturity was progressing and felt satisfied that he’s made a lot of strides from growing into a young man and beyond. We’re aware of the challenges that he’s presented in certain situations, that he might not have handled as well as he could have and he’s grown from it and he’ll be a better person from it.”
The New Jersey Devils selected defenseman Luke Hughes with the fourth overall pick.
Hughes was born in Manchester, the son of Jim Hughes, who was head coach of the AHL Manchester Monarchs for one year (2005-06) and an assistant coach for two more (2003-05), and Ellen Weinberg-Hughes, who was inducted into the UNH Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. Weinberg-Hughes played hockey, lacrosse and soccer from 1987-91, and was a part of the 1992 U.S. women’s hockey team.
Luke Hughes joins his brother Jack, a center, with the Devils.
Bruins take Swede
The Bruins chose to load up on some flashy skill by taking Swedish right wing Fabian Lysell in the 21st slot of the NHL draft’s first round on Friday.
Lysell did not have big numbers after going to Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League (two goals, one assist in 26 games) from Frolunda HC’s junior team, but he notched nine points in seven games at the IIHF World U18 championships, helping Sweden to a bronze medal finish.