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Badgers in the NHL: four future UW skaters go on the second day of NHL Draft

Cruz Lucius was picked by Carolina and Tyson Jugnauth was selected by Seattle on Friday afternoon.

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

The first round of the 2022 NHL Draft did not include a Wisconsin Badgers player hearing their name called, the first time in four years that UW hasn’t had one, but rounds two through seven had four future Badgers see their dreams come true.

With pick No. 100 in the fourth round, the Seattle Kraken selected Canadian defenseman Tyson Jugnauth (West Kelowna Warriors, BCHL). Last season the offensive-minded defender earned the Best Defenseman Award for the BCHL and he’ll be playing in Madison this fall.

Jugnauth is the first Wisconsin player that the Kraken have drafted in their, short, franchise history. Now we wait for the Tampa Bay Lightning to pick a Badger, as they are the only team in the NHL who hasn’t.

Later in the fourth round, the Carolina Hurricanes picked American forward Cruz Lucius (USA U-18 NDT) at No. 124. Chris Peters, one of the top hockey prospect analysts out there, mentioned that Lucius was a great value for the Canes who fell to them due to missing a chunk of last season with an injury.

Lucius, who was once committed to play for Minnesota, will join Jugnauth in Madison this fall hoping to provide an offensive spark for Wisconsin.

The highest picked future Badger will not be playing with Wisconsin this season, but forward Quinn Finley (Madison Capitols, USHL), who was picked at No. 78 by the New York Islanders, will be in Madison, playing for the Capitols again. Finley moved to Suamico (outside of Green Bay) after growing up in Arizona and will continue to skate for the home-state team when he moves on to college.

The Athletic’s Corey Pronman gives this scouting report on Finley:

Quinn Finley is an interesting prospect as he possesses legit speed and skill that could translate to higher levels and is one of the younger prospects in this class. Off the rush he shows he can be a threat and can beat defenders with speed. His offensive ability doesn’t wow you, but he can make plays and projects to score versus better players. Given he’s not amazing off the puck either, it’s hard to see where he fits on an NHL roster. The talent gives him a chance though.

The final Wisconsin selection of the draft was Canadian center Owen Mehlenbacher (Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL) who was picked in the seventh round by the Detroit Red Wings. He amassed 42 points (17-25-42), a plus-12 rating and 56 penalty minutes in 56 games during the 2021-22 campaign for the Lumberjacks.

I can’t quite decipher if Mehlenbacher will be suiting up for the Badgers in the fall, as the men’s hockey roster hasn’t been updated with incoming freshmen yet, but the Red Wings official site says he is.