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CHICAGO, Ill. – A trio of Nittany Lions hear their names called during day 2 of the 2017 NHL Draft on Saturday afternoon from the United Center in Chicago.
Incoming freshmen Evan Barratt and Cole Hults were taken in the third and fifth round, respectively, before rising sophomore Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) heard his name called as the first pick in the sixth round. Penn State has now had nine draft picks in its brief history and five over the last three seasons.
Selected in the third round (90th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks, Barratt becomes the third highest NHL draft pick in program history. Eamon McAdam was taken 70th overall by the New York Islanders in 2013 and Max Gardiner was chosen with the 74th pick by the St. Louis Blues in 2010.
Barratt, who will join the Nittany Lions this fall, recently finished his 2016-17 campaign as a member of the United States National Team Development Program where he registered 56 points on 18 goals and 38 assists in 63 games played.
One of 42 invitees to the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase, Barratt was also a member of the U.S. National U18 Team, which captured the Gold Medal at the 2017 World Junior Championships this past winter. Barratt scored one goal while adding five assists for six points in seven games during the tournament.
Hults, taken 134th overall by the Los Angeles Kings, will join Barratt as part of the class of 2021 this fall after completing his junior career as a member of the Madison Capitols. Hults played the last four seasons with the Capitols having his best offensive season in 2016-17. The Stoughton, Wisconsin native scored six goals while adding 26 assists for 32 points, sixth among USHL defensemen.
Smirnov, taken as the first pick of the sixth round (156th overall) by the Colorado Avalanche, is coming off the best single-season in Penn State history as he led all NCAA Division I freshmen nationwide with 47 points. His 19 goals and 28 assists were also Penn State single-season freshman records and the Moscow, Russia native earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and All-Freshman honors in his first year in Happy Valley.
The trio join current Penn State draftees Nikita Pavlychev (2015 – 197th overall – Pittsburgh) and Brett Murray (2016 – 99th overall – Buffalo) giving the Nittany Lions five NHL draft picks on their 2017-18 roster, the most at any one time in program history.
Penn State begins the 2017-18 campaign on the road against Clarkson on October 6.