Sunday, June 30, 2013

Canucks Scoop Up Williamson

Following Eamon McAdam's selection by the New York Islanders in the third round of Sunday's NHL Entry Draft, Penn State didn't have to wait long for a second-ever draft pick by a player affiliated with the university. Incoming freshman defenseman Mike Williamson was tabbed late in the sixth round, with the 175th overall pick, by the Vancouver Canucks.

Along with McAdam, the 70th player to leave the board, Williamson, junior forward Max Gardiner (2010 3rd round, 74th overall, by the St. Louis Blues) and junior defenseman Patrick Koudys (2011 5th round, 147th overall by the Washington Capitals) now represent the Penn State draft contingent. Both Gardiner and Koudys were selected while committed to other schools, Minnesota and RPI, respectively

Williamson is a product of the AJHL's Spruce Grove Saints, one of that junior circuit's best programs, where he played with PSU sophomore David Glen, as well as fellow incoming freshman Dylan Richard. Although NHL Central Scouting Services listed him as the 183rd-best North American skater in their final rankings (71st among defensemen), he was lightly regarded by pundits, so his being drafted can be considered something of a surprise.

While Williamson was picked in the territory of a low-risk end-of-draft slot, he does have the opportunity to elevate his stock significantly within the Canucks prospect system. The window of opportunity may be closing on the veteran team at the NHL level, and furthermore, their pool of young guns is considered one of the weakest in the league - it was recently rated 29th of 30 by The Hockey News. In other words and in a salary cap era, Vancouver will probably be looking within to fill key roles in their organization, and Williamson has a great opportunity to become a part of that.

The Leduc, AB native is expected to immediately become a key piece of the Nittany Lions' blueline. He offers a tremendously well-rounded blend of size, intelligence, quickness and a bomb of a point shot - enough, obviously, for an NHL team to seek his rights. Williamson suffered an injury-plagued season with the Saints, but still managed to help the club to an AJHL North Division regular season championship in 2012-13 with a goal and ten assists in 23 games.

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