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By Chicago Steel, 05/03/16, 5:45PM CDT


Chicago drafts 17 players from 1996-2000 birth years

GENEVA, ILLINOIS – The 2016 USHL Draft concluded Tuesday with Phase II, as teams were allowed to fill their rosters with available players born between 1996 and 2000. The Chicago Steel made 17 selections in Phase II, including 10 forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders. All players drafted will be extended invitations to the Steel’s Tryout Camp in June.

“We’re very excited with how today went,” Steel General Manager Ryan Bennett said following the conclusion of the Phase II Draft. “We got bigger, we were able to draft some very high-end imports and we feel that we have a lot of talented players that can make our team.”­­

The first player selected by Chicago was Finnish forward Mikael Hakkarainen (6th Overall), a highly-skilled playmaker and goal scorer with multiple tools. Hakkarainen was ranked 194th on NHL Central Scouting’s final listing of top North American Skaters for the 2016 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-1, 174-pound center registered 40 points (13+27) in 54 regular season games this season with the Brookings Blizzard (NAHL). Hakkarainen is committed to Providence College (Hockey East).

The Steel’s second 1st Round selection was used on a familiar face. Forward Johnny Walker, who played three games for Chicago in 2015-2016, was drafted 11th Overall. Walker scored an exciting shootout winner for Chicago in a Dec. 10 home game vs. Youngstown. Walker, a Phoenix native, split the remainder of his third junior season between Minot and Topeka, each of the NAHL. The 6-foot, 190-pound right wing is committed to Arizona State University (Independent).

Chicago made three selections in Round 3, starting with right wing Jackson MacNab (38th Overall) from Culver Military Academy in Indiana. NHL Central Scouting ranked MacNab, a University of Notre Dame (Hockey East), 169th amongst North American Skaters for the upcoming NHL Draft. A big power forward with a great skill set, MacNab is listed at 6-foot-5 and weighs 203 pounds.

Immediately following the selection of MacNab, Chicago picked another tall forward in 6-foot-3 Latvian Eduards Tralmaks at 39th Overall, a University of Maine commit who was named MVP of the Eastern Hockey League. Five picks later, the Steel grabbed Merrimack College commit Jordan Seyfert, a centerman from the 2015-2016 T1EHL U16 Champion North Jersey Avalanche.

After a couple rounds without picks, Chicago got back to work in the 6th Round by taking Aaron Grounds from Team Wisconsin with the 84th Overall selection, a center with excellent skating ability and size (6-2, 170). The Steel then scooped up their first defenseman of the Phase II Draft, Jay Powell, a 6-foot-6 stay-at-home defenseman with a mean streak from Nashville, Tenn.

In Round 8, Chicago looked to the crease for the first time in this year’s USHL Draft, choosing North Jersey’s Justin Robbins, who led the nation in 16U wins (66) and was in the top 5 in the T1EHL in GAA (1.53) and save percentage (.938), showing quickness and textbook form. They’d stay with the back end in Round 9, selecting goaltender Jake Kucharski, who posted a 1.77 GAA and .917 save percentage in 14 regular season games this season with the Esmark Stars (NAPHL).

The Steel chose center Nolan Sullivan, a center from Eden Prairie, Minn., with the 172nd Overall pick, before selecting four consecutive defensemen: Finnish standouts Jesper Kokkila (188th) and Saku Vesterinen (204th), Michael Ufberg (220th) of Richboro, Pa., and Swedish blueliner Rasmus Sandin (236th).

Rounding out Chicago’s selections in the Phase II Draft were three forwards: Trevor St. Jean (252nd), a Bowling Green (WCHA) commit, North Jersey’s Tim Clifton (268th), and Cole Edgerton (284th) from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program.

2016 USHL Phase II Draft

Chicago Steel Selections

Round 1

-6th Overall: Mikael Hakkarainen, C, Brookings Blizzard (NAHL)

-11th: Johnny Walker, RW, Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL)

Round 3

-38th: Jackson MacNab, RW, Culver Military Academy (USHS)

-39th: Eduards Tralmaks, C, Boston Bandits (EHL)

-44th: Jordan Seyfert, C, North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL)

Round 6

-84th: Aaron Grounds, C, Team Wisconsin (U16)

-88th: Jay Powell, D, Westminster Prep. (USHS)

Round 8

-124th: Justin Robbins, G, North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL)

Round 9

-140th: Jake Kucharski, G, Esmark Stars (NAPHL)

Round 11

-172nd: Nolan Sullivan, C, Eden Prairie (USHS)

Round 12

-188th: Jesper Kokkila, D, Kärpät Oulu (Jr. A SM-liiga)

Round 13

-204th: Saku Vesterinen, D, KalPa (Jr. B SM-sarja)

Round 14

-220th: Michael Ufberg, D, North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL)

Round 15

-236th: Rasmus Sandin, D, Brynas IF (J18 Allsvenskan)

Round 16

-252nd: Trevor St. Jean, RW, Ohio Blue Jackets (T1EHL)

Round 17

-268th: Tim Clifton, RW, North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL)

Round 18

-284th: Cole Edgerton, F, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite (T1EHL)


Chicago Steel 2016 USHL Phase I Draft Picks by the Numbers


-USA: 12 (Walker, MacNab, Seyfert, Grounds, Powell, Robbins, Kucharski, Sullivan, Ufberg, St. Jean, Clifton, Edgerton)

-Finland: 3 (Hakkarainen, Kokkila, Vesterinen)

-Latvia: 1 (Tralmaks)

-Sweden: 1 (Sandin)


-Pennsylvania: 3 (Seyfert, Kucharski, Ufberg)

-New Jersey: 2 (Robbins, Clifton)

-Arizona: 1 (Walker)

-Indiana: 1 (MacNab)

-Minnesota: 1 (Sullivan)

-Ohio: 1 (St. Jean)

-Tennessee: 1 (Powell)

-West Virginia: 1 (Edgerton)

-Wisconsin: 1 (Grounds)

The Steel’s 2016 Tryout Camp will take place at Fox Valley Ice Arena June 10-13 and is by invitation only. The camp includes a Futures Game and an All-Star Game, which will be open to the public. Details will be announced at a later date.

Steel Season Ticket Plans are now on sale for the 2016-2017 season and start at just 5 games.  Full Season Ticket Plans start at just $8 per game. The full 2016-2017 schedule, including a variety of promotional nights and special events, will be released soon. Season Ticket Plans are available to purchase at the Steel Box Office at Fox Valley Ice Arena or by phone at 855-51-STEEL. For more information, visit