DALLAS, TX—3 Musketeer players were selected in the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, Texas over the weekend bringing the total number of Musketeer NHL draft picks up to 57.
Sampo Ranta was the first Musketeer to be taken off the board after being selected with the 16th pick in the 3rd round early Saturday afternoon. After an injury-plagued 2016-17 season that saw the imposing winger record 9 points in 30 games, Ranta had an impressive 2017-18 campaign scoring 23 goals and adding 14 assists for 37 points in 53 games. His efforts earned him a spot in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game where Ranta continued to impress NHL scouts.
Sampo joins an Avalanche organization that is on the upswing after battling for the final playoff spot this past season, a year after finishing last in the league. Ranta will head to Wisconsin next season but gives plenty of credit to the USHL for helping him get to this point. “It’s been amazing, the whole journey here has been amazing. It’s an honor to be a part of the Colorado Avalanche a great organization. The USHL has been huge for me; it’s a great league and a fast league. I took a lot of steps in the USHL, and I’m going to be ready for college for sure.”
The second Musketeer selection in the draft was Ranta’s roommate in Sioux City, Martin Pospisil who was selected by the Calgary Flames with the 12th pick in round 4. Pospisil had an outstanding rookie campaign for Sioux City. He ended the season tied for second on the team in points, scoring eight goals and adding 29 assists for 37 points in 49 games, good for 5th among all rookies in the USHL. He was part of the USHL/NHL Top Prospects this past season, and his offensive play took off during the second half of the season. Flames management was excited by the Pospisil pick and noted Martin’s strong second half as well as his willingness to get in the dirty areas as the top reasons the Flames selected the playmaking center.
The third and final Musketeer Draft pick was the speedy forward Cole Koepke. Koepke was selected with the 28th pick in round 6 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Koepke led the Musketeers in scoring this past season with 28 goals, and 11 assists for a total of 39 points. Koepke is an extremely fast forward who can play on both ends of the ice and in any situation. His four shorthanded goals on the season are evidence of his ability to play a sound defensive game while still contributing in a big way on offense. During the back half of the season Koepke would often link up with equally fast Sammy Walker, another Tampa Bay pick, and the speedy forwards would often leave defenders in the dust.
Koepke was on hand at the draft with his parents and older brother and is very excited to be a part of the Lightning organization. “The feeling is pretty hard to describe, its something I’ve dreamed about my entire life growing up as a kid and just to be here and go through the experience with my family is something we will all remember.” Koepke is also happy to have his teammate walker with him at Lightning development camp “Yeah it will nice to know a few guys there, I got to play to play with Sammy at the end of this year, and me and him got pretty close actually. He’s insanely quick, sees the ice really well and is a great playmaker.”
While Koepke and Ranta will be moving on to the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Wisconsin respectively, Pospisil will be back in a Musketeer uniform for 2018-19 and will no doubt play a big part in the Musketeer offense.