As they continue to establish themselves in the USHL, the Muskegon Lumberjacks are also loading up for the future.
The junior team added six 1996-born players to their roster during the USHL Futures Draft Tuesday night.
“We love great players from great programs and that’s what we have in this draft,” said Lumberjacks owner/GM Josh Mervis said in a release. “In addition to that excitement, we have an outstanding hockey operations staff and it’s phenomenal to see all their work pay off. These guys did a lot to get ready.”
With their first selection, the ‘Jacks selected Dylan Malmquist, a winger from Edina High School in Minnesota, at 10th overall. Malmquist, who is listed at 5-foot-10-inches, recorded 23 goals and 26 assists in 30 games last year.
Muskegon scout Chris “Frenchy” LaCombe says Malmquist is “a highly-skilled forward, the best forward in Minnesota in our opinion. His best attribute is his playmaking. He makes other players better.”
The Lumberjacks took another Edina native in the second round (21st overall) – Chase Phelps, a center who played at the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school last year. Phelps is listed at 5-foot-11.
“Chase brings a good edge to his game,” LaCombe said. “He gets up and down the rink, plays hard and is a great two-way player.”
Muskegon added a little East Coast flavor to their roster with their next pick, selecting Boston Jr. Bruins forward Conor Garland in the third round. The native of Scituate, Mass., scored 42 goals in 40 games in the Empire Junior Hockey League last year.
“Conor is a shifty, smart, heady player who can score in bunches,” said Lumberjacks assistant coach Steve Palmer. “When he gets the puck around the net, it’s going in.”
With their fourth-round selection, Muskegon took Quebec native Raphael Maheux. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound defenseman played for Team Ulysse last season.
“He is a talented defenseman with great size,” LaCombe said. “He can play in all situations and we’re thrilled he was still on the board.”
The Lumberjacks continued to build their blue line depth in the fifth round, selecting Tristan Rostagno at No. 70 overall. The 6-foot-1-inch defenseman played for Arrowhead (Wisc.) High School last season.
Muskegon assistant coach Dave Noel-Bernier says the Lumberjacks are getting a “big, tough and mean. He can intimidate with his style of play.”
In the sixth round, Muskegon went back up to the forwards, selecting John Peterson of Holy Family Catholic in the Minneapolis area. The 5-foot-9-inch prospect had 22 goals and 41 assists in 26 games last year.
“John is a quick, high producing offensive forward,” LaCombe said. “He also brings a good amount of ‘jam’ to the table.”
Players selected in the USHL Futures Draft are placed on a team’s “affiliate list”, which means the club retains the draftee’s rights for three years. The player can be added to the active roster at any point during a season. Most players are not expected to play in the first year after they are drafted.