Sunday, June 30, 2013

Isles draft Williams (updated)

Pat Christman/The Free Press
Stephon Williams appeared on some rankings leading up to the NHL Draft in 2012, but he was not picked during the summer before his freshman year at Minnesota State.

The goaltender's stock seemed to skyrocket during his first college season, but that year, his name was left off the public rankings.

On Sunday, some observers thought there was an outside shot that last season's WCHA rookie of the year and first-team all-conference goaltender might get taken.

Sure enough, Williams got his name called, as the New York Islanders drafted him in the fourth round Sunday evening in New Jersey. Williams was the 106th overall pick and the 10th goaltender selected (and the second by the Isles — the first was third-rounder Eamon McAdam, a Penn State recruit and a junior teammate of Williams in Waterloo).

Shortly after being picked, the sophomore-to-be tweeted: Truly an honor to be drafted by the Islanders! Wanna thank everyone for all the support it is a dream come true #nhldraft

Williams finished his freshman season at MSU with a 21-12-2 record, a .923 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average in 35 games.

Williams will be one of four draft picks on next season’s MSU roster, joining junior Max Gaede (San Jose, third round, 2010), sophomore Teddy Blueger (Pittsburgh, second round, 2012) and freshman Zach Stepan (Nashville, fourth round, 2012). The last time the Mavericks had four NHL draft picks on their roster was in 2004-05 when they had David Backes, Travis Morin, Chad Brownlee and Jake Brenk.

Williams was the first player from the "new" WCHA (probably time to stop calling it that) to be drafted on Sunday. With the departure of the Big Ten and NCHC schools, the WCHA had just three players taken. The others were Michigan Tech's Dane Birks and Jacob Jackson, who were taken in the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively.

For a complete list of current and incoming college players drafted on Sunday, College Hockey Inc. has a list.

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