Two Black Hawks Taken In NHL Draft
Waterloo’s Top Rookie (Firstov) was the first Black Hawk off the board, picked in the 2nd round and Black Hawks Forward Blumel was chosen in the 4th Round on Saturday.
Black Hawks forward Vladislav Firstov’s 2018/19 season in Waterloo yielded many impressive accomplishments, and Saturday the Minnesota Wild made him their second selection during the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. Minnesota claimed Firstov with the 42nd overall pick.
The Russian national was the second-highest rookie scorer in the United States Hockey League during 2018/19. Appearing in all 62 Black Hawks regular season games, Firstov had 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists). “Vladi has a lot of gifts: speed, play-making ability, an impressive shot,” said Black Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley. “He grew a lot this season with our team, on and off the ice. If that growth continues, there will be a lot of additional opportunities that unfold for him.”
Before 2017, no Waterloo player had ever appeared for the Wild nor been drafted by the club. During the 2017 NHL Draft, Minnesota picked forward Nick Swaney during the seventh round. Then during the 2017/18 season, Justin Kloos made his NHL debut with the Wild. Minnesota went on to add J.T. Brown for the 2018/19 campaign.
Matej Blumel became one of the United States Hockey League’s more fearsome offensive threats in 2018/19, leading the Edmonton Oilers to select him with the 100th overall pick Saturday during the 2019 NHL Draft.
During Blumel’s second season with the Waterloo Black Hawks, he tied for 11th in USHL scoring with 60 points (30 goals, 30 assists) in 58 games. No player was more successful at challenging league goaltenders during the winter; Blumel led the USHL with 238 shots on goal. “Matej’s time in Waterloo is a case study in patient development,” said Black Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley. “He was able to grow considerably from his first season to this year, and he really had the opportunity to show what he could do while making an important contribution to our success.” Blumel is committed to the University of Connecticut.
The Oilers picked him in the 4th round. Former Black Hawk Patrick Russell made his NHL debut with Edmonton in November, and Waterloo alum Chris Ferraro played briefly for Oilers in 1998/99. However, Edmonton was one of four NHL teams which had never previously drafted a Black Hawk prior to this summer.
The 2019 Draft marks the 8th consecutive year in which a skater from Waterloo has been chosen during, or immediately following, his Black Hawks career. Including players picked before they came to the Cedar Valley, the Black Hawks have had a tie to at least one prospect selected in 15 straight NHL Drafts.