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UND's Dylan James, Abram Wiebe and Ben Strinden are picked in NHL Draft

James, a forward from Calgary, will be the highest-drafted player on UND's roster this season.

UND commit Dylan James plays for the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League.
Sioux City Musketeers

GRAND FORKS — Dylan James didn't make the trip to Montreal for the 2022 NHL Draft.

He instead followed it at home in Calgary, where Day 2 began at 9 a.m. local time Friday morning.

It's a good thing James didn't sleep in. The UND incoming freshman forward went off the board quickly when the Detroit Red Wings took him with the eighth pick of the second round, No. 40 overall.

James will be the highest NHL Draft pick on UND's roster during the 2022-23 season, four spots ahead of junior defenseman Tyler Kleven, who went No. 44 to the Ottawa Senators in 2020.

Later in the day, UND added to its draft class.


The Vegas Golden Knights picked UND defenseman recruit Abram Wiebe at No. 209 overall in the seventh round, while the Nashville Predators selected incoming freshman forward Ben Strinden of Fargo with the very next pick.

Wiebe, the first UND player ever to be picked to the Golden Knights, will come to campus in 2023.

James and Strinden are part of UND's four-man freshman class — all of which are NHL Draft picks. Jackson Blake (Carolina Hurricanes) and Owen McLaughlin (Philadelphia Flyers) were selected last year. In total, UND will have 12 NHL Draft picks on this season's roster.

James was a fast-riser during the last eight months while playing with the Sioux City Musketeers .

"He's a player we saw a lot; we're excited about him," Red Wings director of scouting Kris Draper said. "He won a championship in the USHL this year and he had himself a big year. For a first-year USHL player, he put up some good numbers. He's a complete hockey player. We really like the 200-foot game he plays. He's used in all situations."

Draper also said he likes James' development path.

"He played in Sioux City, had a successful year, won a championship and he's off to North Dakota," Draper said. "You start looking at that, you look at where he's going. . . obviously, when you commit to North Dakota, you're going there to play hockey. That's something we really like."

James, who tallied 61 points in 62 games, is a versatile player who can be used up-and-down the lineup.


"He's a left winger, a pretty good all-around player, an excellent athlete and he plays hard," Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said. "He has a bit of a scoring touch around the net and goes up and down the wing and plays hard."

After a stint at Red Wings development camp, James will come to Grand Forks and begin training and preparing for the upcoming season.

"He's a big body that skates extremely well," UND coach Brad Berry said. "He's very competitive. He plays a hard game. He's absolutely what we want in our group — a guy who plays with hard skill, plays a 200-foot game and goes to the hard areas, and is very productive and scores. He did that on a consistent basis for the most part in the USHL."

Strinden goes to Nashville

Strinden, who played a year at Fargo South-Shanley before joining Northstar Christian Academy in Alexandria, Minn., became just the fourth Fargo prep player ever to be picked in the NHL Draft.

The others are Kleven of Fargo Davies, Danny Irmen of Fargo North (No. 78 to Minnesota Wild in 2003) and Brian Williams of Fargo North (No. 178 to Montreal in 1982).

Strinden was passed over in his first two years of draft eligibility, but got selected by the Predators on Friday after a breakout season with Muskegon in the USHL.

The 6-foot-1, 193-pound forward had 25 goals and 56 points in 61 games. The previous year, he had one goal and 10 points in 23 games.

"It's amazing how different players find their way or path," Berry said. "Ben was a guy who went through a couple drafts. His body of work proved this year that he was worthy to get drafted. He's also a guy who is very reliable. He plays center — he also can play wing — he won a ton of draws, he put up very good numbers this year in Muskegon, and he was relied upon for leadership, too."


Vegas selects Wiebe

Wiebe, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound defenseman, will play one more year for the Chilliwack Chiefs in the British Columbia Hockey League before coming to campus.

Last season, Wiebe had two goals and 31 points in 54 games for Chilliwack.

Berry said Wiebe's size and athleticism make him a good prospect.

"He's a big body defenseman who moves extremely well," Berry said. "He's a very smart, intellectual defenseman that plays a physical game. He is very good defensively and brings some offense, too. He's a guy we're really looking forward to."

UND has a lot of familiarity with Chilliwack. Current defenseman Cooper Moore previously played there, as did former Hobey Baker Award finalist and captain Jordan Kawaguchi.

"He will be a leader on that team," Berry said of Wiebe. "Looking forward a year from now, we're going to be losing a lot of defensemen. He's going to come in and play a significant role for us."

UND has now had at least one player selected in 24 consecutive NHL Drafts dating back to 1999, when the New Jersey Devils picked Mike Commodore in the second round.

Livanavage goes undrafted

One surprise omission from the draft was UND defenseman commit Jake Livanavage, a projected mid-to-late round pick. He will still be draft-eligible next summer.


Livanavage will play one more season with the Chicago Steel — his senior year of high school — then come to UND in the fall of 2023. Because he hasn't signed his National Letter of Intent yet, Berry can't comment on Livanavage.

"It was a draft where there were a lot of college players taken," Berry said. "We had one go early and two that went later. A lot of people get caught up on where or if they get drafted. It's a great accolade. It's an honor. But it's a measure at a point in time. It's what you do from here — your body of work — that determines where you're going to end up in college hockey and pro hockey.

"We won a national championship with a couple of those (undrafted) guys in Troy Stecher and Drake Caggiula. They were leaders on that team. And I feel like we have that this year as well."

UND's 2022 NHL Draft board

No. 40 — Dylan James, Detroit Red Wings
No. 209 — Abram Wiebe, Vegas Golden Knights
No. 210 — Ben Strinden, Nashville Predators

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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