The 2016 NHL entry draft will take place at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY this weekend. NBC Sports Network will have the entire first round coverage starting with a preview show set for 6:30pm Friday night.
Second round coverage will begin Saturday morning at 10am and continue through the seventh and final rounds Sunday on NHL Network.
Four Saginaw Spirit players will be looking to join an elite fraternity with former Spirit players like: Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning), Dylan Sadowy (San Jose Sharks), Jimmy Lodge (Winnipeg Jets), Nick Moutry (Columbus Blue Jackets), Jake Paterson (Detroit Red Wings), Vincent Trochek (Florida Panthers), and Brandon Saad (Chicago Blackhawks) as they hope to hear their names called this weekend.
Markus Niemelainen, Keaton Middleton, Tye Felhaber, and Evan Cormier all showed up on nhlcentralscouting.com this past May. The website ranks the top North American and European players predicted to be drafted in Buffalo this weekend.
Markus Niemelainen is a 6-foot-6 198 lb defenseman from Finland,, was ranked number 52 on the final list, but was as high as 46 earlier in the year. He's a great puck-handling defenseman who is very good at getting up with the play and is especially good as an extra attacker. With a ranking at 52, he can be expected to go anywhere between the late second round to the mid-third round.
Keaton Middleton, a 6-foot-6 233 lb defenseman from Stratford, ON was ranked 71 on the list, and was as high as 55 earlier in the year. Keaton is a powerfully strong, physical force in front of the net with a huge wingspan that NHL scouts love. His older brother, Jacob, was drafted in the seventh round by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 NHL draft. The two brothers spend their summers working as Mason Tender's in Canada. He's a possible third round to mid-fourth round selection.
Tye Felhaber, a 5-foot-11 194 lb center from Pembroke, ON was ranked number 167 on the final list and was as high as number 139 earlier in the year. He has top end speed with very good hands and he really put his game together last season when he started to find the back of the net with some regularity. He is not afraid to go to the dirty parts of the ice to score goals. Could be a sixth or seventh round selection.
Evan Cormier, a 6-foot-2 202 lb goal tender from Bowmanville, ON was ranked number 11 on the list of North American goal tenders. Evan is a very solid goal tender with a great combination of size and mobility. He was forced to step into a very big role with the Spirit at a young age and he rose to the challenge. Look to hear his name in the later rounds.