By Michael Louis Ingram and Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporters
As the National Hockey League turns the page to the 2018-19 season more Goal Brothers will lace up their skates and hit the ice after this year’s draft. Now hockey historians are comparing these future stars to Goal Brothers of the past and current players.
The New York Rangers will try one more time to put color in the Blue Shirts uniform with this young African American defenseman. Miller played with the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. New York drafted him with the 22nd overall pick. Miller is one of ten Minnesota players drafted this year.
The Rangers traded up to get the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder from Minnetonka, Minnesota native with strong defensive skills and mobility. The 18-year-old defenseman has amassed over 25 points in 50 games, so he can also score.
He sounds like a P.K. Subban clone. His first assignment will be playing for the Badgers at the University of Wisconsin. The red and white will season him for his Madison Square Garden future.
Just like Major League Baseball, the NHL can draft a player to retain the team’s rights to that player. For college players, these rights are for that said team until 30 days after the player has left school.
The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Loewen will be walking in the steps of history being by the first Jamaican-born player drafted in the NHL. He was tabbed by the Dallas Stars in the seventh round. He is the second Jamaican to put on skates (Graeme Townshend played for the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, and Ottawa Senators).
Loewen was picked by Dallas because of his size. The organization wanted to compete against big teams like the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and Vegas Knights. Size and speed is the new demand and might be the answer for the struggling Stars.
Loewen was the leading scorer on the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League with 36 goals and 28 assists. Many scouts call him a late bloomer with raw potential because he did not play hockey until he was 10. With intense practice every day, he quickly caught up with his peers on the ice.
This tall, big framed young man is being compared to Philly’s All-Star forward Wayne Simmonds and his style of play. Loewen will body up and push you into the boards like Simmonds, then break away for the puck. He plays hard every shift and that is what the Stars are looking for.
Loewen has already started practicing in the Stars development camp this week.
I really like the way this young man plays hockey.
Thomas was named to the Ontario Hockey League’s All-Rookie Team. The Los Angeles King draftee enters the league with a slight chip on his shoulder. He wants to prove to all the teams that bypassed him in the 2018 draft that he is truly a great hockey player and can score.
He’ll look good in L.A.’s black and silver uniform.
The 5-foot-11, 171-pound center-forward was slated to go in the first round. He has great hands and tallied 59 assists in 68 games for the Niagara Ice Dogs. Many are calling him the new Jarome Iginla with more speed.
This man will be interesting to watch because the Kings will let him play his own style. The great Iggy made players around him on the ice better by looking for the open man and seeking assists all the time. Thomas could be that clone.
A member of the Oshawa Generals of Ontario Hockey League, Noel was drafted by the Florida Panthers. He is the son of Canadian Football League star receiver Dean Noel who did not want his son to play football because of the concussion issues. I really believe that 6-foot-5, 205-pounder will be a star one day with his determination and his goals on the ice.
But he has to get out of the Panther organization. He has to work on his skating skills this summer, but with his work ethic, this should be easy. If he does not get buried in Florida’s farm system, Noel will be a star with a northern or western team.
The franchise has never shown the league they wanted players of color or players that could skate. Look at their past record. Noel is also not suited for the muck and grind of teams like the Panthers. He scored 28 goals and 25 assists in 62 games last season.
His style is to camp out around the net while pestering the goalie for scores.
The Vancouver Canucks drafted Woo in the second round. He was given the name Jett after the Chinese action movie star Jett Li. He’s the second player of Chinese descent to be drafted in the National Hockey League.
The 6-foot, 205-pounder could be a role model for other Chinese Canadians and Asian kids in Vancouver. Woo could also shatter the preconceived notions about Asian athletes. Woo will follow in the footsteps of first-round draft choice Joshua Ho-Sang of the New York Islanders.
A defenseman for the Moose Jaw Warriors, Woo was the 34th the overall pick. He also played for Team Canada at this year’s International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Junior Championship.
He will stay in Canada with the Vancouver Canucks. Woo had to deal with serious injuries early this past season so he is mentally tough and will transition to the NHL easier because of his work ethic.
He’s a solid defensive player that reminds many of a young Devante Smith-Pelly of the Washington Capitals. He makes sure the puck is taken care around his goalie before leaving the defensive zone.
In the end, these five young men will continue to change the face of the NHL with the wide range of color.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email Glcgray@gmail.com
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