Badger defenseman Jake McCabe was selected 44th overall by the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday morning.
Friday's NHL Draft first round came and went without incoming Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles hearing his name called. While that in itself was a bit of a let down, the location of the team who eventually picked him certainly was not.
Kerdiles didn't have to sit around long on day two. The Irvine, California native was the sixth player selected on the drafts second day when his hometown Anaheim Ducks made him the 36th overall selection in the 2012 draft.
The 6'1 power forward was admittedly nervous after not going on day one, but couldn't keep the smile off his face after finding out he was picked by the Ducks.
"It's a draft, so I was expecting anything to happen. For me, it was just trying to enjoy the moment with my family. It was stressful--I was sweating a little bit," Kerdiles told the media after being selected.
"But I got selected by the Ducks, my hometown team. It's a great organization and I'm very excited right now."
The Ducks were equally excited to grab Kerdiles, according to Anaheim's Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden.
"(Kerdiles) is just a smart, hard-working player. He's a two-way player and has a big shot. I really like the release on his wrist shot. It allows him to score goals at this level and I think it will allow him to score at the next level as well," Madden said.
Kerdiles wasn't the only Badger to go in round two. UW sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe was selected just eight picks later when the Buffalo Sabres made him the 44th overall selection.
By being selected 44th overall, McCabe joins a long list of Badger defensemen to be selected in the top two rounds of the draft. Since head coach Mike Eaves took over the Badger program in 2002, nine blue-liners including McCabe have been selected in the top 60.
"It's pretty special. I wasn't really aware of how really fast this process went in the second round through seven. The names start flowing, one after another and your adrenaline starts rushing and you're hoping to hear your name eventually," McCabe said just minutes after being selected.
"Luckily enough I didn't have to wait around too long, it's a thrill."
Kevin Devine who is the Director of Amateur Scouting for Buffalo told the local media that they thought McCabe would be gone by the time the 44th pick came around.
"We had McCabe rated at the end of the first round. We weren't sure if we were going to get a forward or a defenseman. He was too high up on our board," Devine said.
"Plays for a Mike Eaves and Wisconsin, they have a very good history of defenseman, so we went that way."
The draft wasn't done for the Badgers after Kerdiles and McCabe however. In somewhat of a surprise, Wisconsin sophomore center Brendan Woods was selected by Carolina. The Hurricanes took the big pivot in the fifth round, #129 overall.
The reason the selection was somewhat of a surprise was because this was Woods third year of draft eligibility, although many thought that he should have been selected in previous drafts.
The son of Anaheim Duck's assistant coach Bob Woods, Brendan took his game to another level in the second half of the season for the Badgers last season after being moved to the middle. The 6'2, 190 forward can play a two way game and has a size and skill set that is extremely attractive to pro scouts.
"It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole childhood," Woods told Tim Leone from PennLive.com. "It’s a day I’ll never forget."
Woods father Bob was excited to learn that his son had been drafted.
"It’s pretty cool," Bob Woods said. "We’re pretty excited about it. It’s a good organization. It should be a good opportunity for him down the road.
Tony MacDonald, who is the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Hurricanes was really impressed with how Woods has bounced back from that severe leg injury from a few years ago.
"Big strong guy who missed a year of hockey with an injury. He came back and played this year. He's a big, strong guy who likes to go to the net. Great upside."
Since Eaves took over in 2002, the Badgers have developed a reputation as an NHL factory. Twenty two players from the University of Wisconsin played in the NHL last season, including twenty one who played during Eaves tenure.
That number is expected to grow next season when guys like Justin Schultz are expected to make their pro debuts. Don't be surprised if three to four years down the road a couple of these players that were selected today with Badger ties are skating on NHL ice as well.
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