Americans represented in 2nd round of NHL draft

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“I’m the kind of gritty two-way player teams need,” Sutter said.

There were plenty of players from that vein chosen Saturday in a draft that lacked the kind of offensive firepower of recent years.

The Edmonton Oilers drafted dynamic Nail Yakupov with the No. 1 pick Friday, hoping the speedy Russian can provide the once-proud franchise a much-needed boost. But the first round was dominated by defense.

While the first-round picks are considered near locks to one day get a shot in the NHL, the road to the league is longer for those chosen on the second day. That’s not a big deal for players like Stolarz, who never imagined he’d be in position to get drafted a year ago.

The New Jersey native grew up rooting for the Devils and idolizing Martin Brodeur. He was cut by a pair of Eastern Junior Hockey League teams last summer before catching on with the Corpus Christi IceRays following an open tryout.

Yes, they play hockey a couple hours north of the Mexico border. It was news to Stolarz too.

“I heard it was right on the beach,” he said with a laugh. “That was good enough for me.”

Stolarz, who is 6-foot-5 and has a wingspan of nearly 7 feet, will play at the University of Nebraska-Omaha next year, and it will likely be several years before he’s NHL-ready. The same can be said for most of the 181 players selected Saturday, if they make it to the league at all.

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