Americans could invade first round of NHL draft



LOS ANGELES — As many as 15 Americans could go in the first round of the National Hockey League draft this year, with Cam Fowler and Jack Campbell among those expected to go early.

The NHL standard of 10 Americans selected in the first round was established in 2006, then equalled in 2007.

Fowler, born in Windsor, Ont., but raised in Farmington Hills, Mich., could very well be the top defenceman selected in the draft.

Fowler, who plays with the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires, is in a three-way battle with Erik Gudbranson of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs and Brandon Gormley of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats for that honour.

“Any one of these guys, it becomes a toss-up,” said the silky-smooth skating Fowler, who could go anywhere between the third and sixth pick. “I feel fortunate to be around that, but still, I don’t have a good idea of what’s going to happen.

“I’m just waiting patiently to find out what’s going to happen.”

Fowler met Thursday with the Florida Panthers, who own the No. 3 pick.

“All of us bring a different aspect to the game,” he said of the three defenders. “I think it’s going to depend on what a team is looking for, what type of style, but like I’ve been saying, the team that takes you, it’s because it’s the right situation for you.”

Known best for stopping goals, Campbell has built the foundation of his sterling puckstopping career by setting goals.

“I’ve been writing goals on my wall since I was 11 years old,” said Campbell.

His wall of goal-setting began with the Quebec peewee tournament.

“That went well,” Campbell said. “We won that.”

Back-to-back world under-18 titles with the United States were wrapped around an IIHF world junior hockey championship crown, all before Campbell turned 18.

“I’m going to continue to shoot for the stars and hopefully my hard work will pay off,” said Campbell, rated to go between 10th and 15th in Friday’s opening round, but someone who could easily jump into the top 10.

The Dallas Stars, who pick 11th overall, are said to strongly covet Campbell’s services.

“It’s a place I’d love to go to,” Campbell admitted.

“I have a pretty good connection to Dallas. I’ve worked with Mike Valley, the goalie coach there. To be working with him on a daily basis would be awesome.”

Campbell, of Port Huron, Mich., figures to be among what could be a record number of American players chosen during the opening round.

Windsor Star

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