The NHL Draft concluded on Saturday with the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team only having two players selected. Defenseman Corson Ceulemans was picked in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets and with the No. 215 pick in the seventh round on Saturday fellow incoming freshman defenseman Daniel Laatsch was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The towering Laatsch, a native of Altoona, stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 183 pounds and casts an imposing shadow on the ice. The Penguins director of player personnel Chris Pryor is interested in Laatsch as a long term prospect once his body matures a bit.
“He kind of, I don’t wanna say lost his footing,” Pryor said. “But some of these guys just kind of get out of sorts at an early age, and these bigger guys just take some time. He went to Sioux City this year, he got on track. He’s a good size kid. He knows how to play the game. He just needs time and patience. He’s going to Wisconsin, which they’re known for developing defensemen.”
Laatsch played in the USHL last season for the Sioux City Musketeers, scoring two goals and adding 17 assists in 51 games played. He was a plus-23 on the year and added 18 penalty minutes too. He’s also a veteran of the USNTDP (United States National Team Development Program) and played some high school hockey at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay where he scored 21 points in 24 games back in 2017-18.
Laatsch is the ninth Badger drafted by Pittsburgh, tied for fourth-most of any franchise, and the first since 1998. He also extends Wisconsin’s streak of having a player selected after the first round to 24 straight years. Wisconsin will enter the 2021-22 season with 10 NHL Draft picks on its roster.