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Six AYHL alumni selected in 2017 NHL Draft

Release Date : June 24, 2017

CHICAGO, Ill. – After not having a player selected in the first round for the first time since 2014, six Atlantic Youth Hockey League alumni were selected on the second day of the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft. Back-to-back AYHL selections in the third round began the league’s day. Forwards Evan Barratt, Jack Badini and Denis Smirnov joined defensemen Brandon Crawley and Tyler Inamoto and goaltender Cayden Primeau joined 211 other players in being chosen in the league's annual, two-day event. 

The Chicago Blackhawks selected longtime AYHL forward Evan Barratt (Morrisville, Pa.) with the 90th pick. Anaheim followed, choosing All-Star forward Jack Badini (Old Greenwich, Conn.) with the 91st pick.

Barratt entered the draft ranked as the 65th best North American skater in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings. Beginning his AYHL career with the Mercer Chiefs, Barratt was a multiple-time AYHL All-Star for the Virtua Hockey program (formerly Team Comcast). After five seasons in Pennsauken, including a 45-point season as a 15-year old at Midget 16 National, Barratt advanced to the United States National Team Development Program, where the high-scoring forward recently completed his two-year commitment. The forward won gold with Team USA at the 2016-17 World Junior Classic among his 121 games donning Team USA’s colors. Committed to Penn State for the fall, should he opt to turn pro, Barratt’s Ontario Hockey League rights are held by the Flint Firebirds.

Badini, a three-year AYHL player, starred in the league’s midget division before continuing his career in the United States Hockey League. The Harvard-committed forward netted 35 points in 25 games for the Long Island Gulls during the team’s march to the 16U nationals, where he skated alongside multiple Division I commitments and several draft picks. The Old Greenwich, Connecticut native then added eight points in 13 games with the North Jersey Avalanche at 18U, before joining the Lincoln Stars for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. The Stars selected Badini in the 2014 USHL Phase I Draft. After spending a season-and-a-half with the Stars, Badini was traded to the Chicago Steel, where the forward blossomed, scoring 42 points in 59 games for the 2017 USHL Clark Cup champions.

After acquiring AYHL alumnus Anthony DeAngelo earlier in the week, the New York Rangers selected another league alumnus in the fourth round, selecting defenseman Brandon Crawley (Glen Rock, N.J.). Crawley played four-and-a-half seasons with the Avalanche (Squirt Minor through Bantam Major), returning for a second Bantam Major season with the New Jersey Rockets. The Glen Rock, New Jersey native moved on to the midget ranks, playing a season with the Jersey Wildcats and one with Selects Academy before signing as an undrafted free agent with the London Knights. During his third season in the OHL, Crawley totaled seven goals and 20 assists and added 114 penalty minutes with a plus-53 rating. The tough defenseman won an OHL title and a Memorial Cup with London in 2016.

The Florida Panthers chose defenseman Tyler Inamoto (Chicago, Ill.) with their selection in the fifth round. Originally from Pittstown, N.J., Inamoto spent six seasons in the AYHL, spending a Squirt Minor season with the Mercer Chiefs and five with the New Jersey Colonials. A highly-productive player, Inamoto left the AYHL after his Bantam Minor season to join the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s program, where he spent two seasons before joining Barratt with the US NTDP.  Ranked as the 68th-best North American skater by Central Scouting, Inamoto is a two-year participant in the USA Hockey Select Camps and is committed to the University of Wisconsin.

The Colorado Avalanche made Wilkes-Barre/Scranton alumnus Denis Smirnov (Moskva, Russia), the first selection of the sixth round. The high-scoring winger spent a pair of seasons with the Knights, including a national championship-winning season in 2013, before moving ahead to the USHL’s Indiana Ice. Smirnov spent three seasons in the USHL, one with the Ice and two with the Fargo Force, winning the Clark Cup with the Ice in 2014 as an All-Rookie Team player. After his three seasons in the top amateur hockey league in the country, Smirnov joined the budding program at Penn State and won a B1G Championship, earning Honorable Mention All-League honors with a 19-goal, 28-assist season. Smirnov was the 167th-ranked North American skater entering the draft.

Virtua Hockey goalie Cayden Primeau (Voorhees, N.J.) was the final alumnus selected in the draft, when the Montreal Canadiens made him their seventh round selection. A six-year AYHL player, all with the Virtua Hockey (Team Comcast) program, Primeau spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Revolution, earning Eastern Hockey League Goaltender of the Year honors in 2016. After being selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2015 USHL Phase I Draft, Primeau joined the Lincoln Stars for the 2016-17 season and compiled a 3.16 goals against average over 30 games with a .895 save percentage. Primeau is committed to Northeastern University.

The Atlantic Youth Hockey League is the USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier I AAA youth hockey league of the Atlantic District. From Connecticut to Maryland, the AYHL’s membership is comprised of over 100 teams, representing four districts, and is spread across six playing divisions. The AYHL’s mission is to develop young players with competition, fun, and good sportsmanship, and move them on to the next phase of their hockey career. With a distinguished alumni list of players that spent a portion of their playing career in the AYHL, today’s players choose to play in the AYHL knowing that it is a proven stepping stone for those serious in their hockey pursuits.

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