DALLAS, TEXAS – Four players with Chicago Steel connections were selected Saturday at the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Stars. Forward Blake McLaughlin (Anaheim Ducks) and defenseman Alec Regula (Detroit Red Wings) were selected in the third round while former Steel forward Mikael Hakkarainen (Chicago Blackhawks) was taken in the fifth. Steel affiliate Liam Gorman (Pittsburgh Penguins) was taken in the sixth round.
Dating back to 2000, 46 players with Steel ties have been selected in the NHL Draft. In total, a record 57 players with USHL ties were selected in this year’s Draft, 45 of whom played in the League this past season.
“Congratulations to the Chicago Steel players and affiliates selected in the Draft,” said Steel General Manager Ryan Hardy. “We wish them continued success in their development on the path to reach their NHL dreams. Going forward, with our new staff and our collaboration with Belfry Hockey, our goals are to identify players with NHL upside and to help cultivate their full potential year after year.”
McLaughlin, 18, started his USHL career with the Steel during Chicago’s Clark Cup Championship run in 2016-17. The dynamic forward was selected 79th overall by the Anaheim Ducks with the team’s third selection in the draft. The Grand Rapids, Minn. native recorded 54 points – 23 goals and 31 assists – in 65 games with the Steel.
“It’s kind of hard to put in words … it’s a relief,” McLaughlin said in an interview with the USHL after being drafted. “[Playing in the USHL with the Chicago Steel] helped me a lot. It matured my game a lot versus what high school would have done for me. The USHL was the right path for me. It was a really big stepping stone for me and it helped me get where I am today.”
Prior to the Steel, McLaughlin helped Grand Rapids High School (Minnesota) win the Class 2A Championship during his junior year. The University of Minnesota commit was named to the all-tournament team and recorded 60 points – 22 goals, 38 assists – in 28 games that season. The future Golden Gopher also represented Team USA’s U-19 team at the World Junior A Championships in 2018.
McLaughlin recorded the 10th five-point performance in Steel history on January 14 when he scored three goals and added two assists against Sioux City. The Anaheim prospect also had two three-assist performances last season and recorded two game-winning goals. McLaughlin finished second on the team with 52 regular season points and averaged 0.96 points per game through 54 games. He also tallied the game-tying goal late in the deciding Game 3 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Semifinal series against Muskegon, a game the Steel ultimately won in overtime.
“Blake McLaughlin is a high IQ, skilled forward with some sandpaper to his game,” said Hardy. “I've known him for a lot of years. He took a lot of strides in his game this year with the Steel and we look forward to watching him continue his development at the University of Minnesota next season on his path to the Ducks.”
McLaughlin’s step-brother and step-father were drafted previously. McLaughlin’s step-brother, Jake Bischoff, was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2012 (Rd. 7, 185 overall) and played for the Knights’ American Hockey League affiliate Chicago Wolves last season. McLaughlin’s step-father, Grant Bischoff, was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars (Rd. 11, 211 overall) in 1988.
Regula, 17, played 53 games for the Steel during the 2016-17 season as well as 5 games in the USHL Playoffs. He was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the 3rd Round with the 67th overall pick. The defenseman posted a combined six points in his lone season with the Steel.
Hakkarainen, 20, played 16 games with the Steel during the 2016-17 season and provided four assists after being selected sixth overall by the Steel in the 2016 USHL Entry Draft. The Finnish forward finished his USHL career with the Muskegon Lumberjacks and was selected 139th overall in the fifth round by the Chicago Blackhawks, one of three USHL alumni selected by the team. Hakkarainen is committed to Providence College.
Gorman, 18, is a Steel affiliate who appeared in two games for Chicago during the 2017-18 season. The Arlington, Mass. native was selected 177th overall in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gorman is committed to Boston University.
There are currently 12 Steel alumni signed to NHL contracts and 192 players have earned Division I scholarships.
2018 NHL DRAFT PICKS WITH STEEL TIES:
-Rd. 3, 67 overall – Detroit Red Wings: D Alec Regula (Steel 2016-2017)
-Rd. 3, 79 overall – Anaheim Ducks: F Blake McLaughlin (Steel 2016-2018)
-Rd. 5, 139 overall – Chicago Blackhawks: F Mikael Hakkarainen (Steel 2016-2017)
-Rd. 6, 177 overall – Pittsburgh Penguins: F Liam Gorman (Steel 2017-2018)
The Chicago Steel return to the ice in October. For more information on the Chicago Steel, visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com or call 855-51-STEEL.