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The 2021 National Hockey League Entry Draft is coming up July 23rd and 24th, which is delayed one month from its normal time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NHL Draft works a little different than many of the pro sports drafts sports fans are familiar with.

When it comes to the NFL Draft, fans are used to seeing players that they've watched in college move into their pro careers, where they will play right away. In the NBA Draft, you expect a lot of the same. But that's not exactly how the NHL Draft works.

Without getting too deep, the NHL Draft is made up of eligible players who fit a narrow criteria. All players from major Junior Hockey leagues, European leagues, and NCAA teams who will be 18 years old on or before September 15 and not older than 20 years old before December 31 of the draft year can be picked. Now a player can be drafted, but head to the NCAA instead of signing with their NHL team right away, then sign when they're done in college too.

For NHL Draft purposes, the league has a Central Scouting Office who scouts and reports on all draft eligible players. This helps protect teams, and players, from poor draft scenarios (for the most part). That is proven when you look at the stats. HockeyAnswered.com says that 67% of the players taken in the First Round of the NHL Draft play at least 100 games, while 27% of Second Round picks will play 100 games. You can also look at the First Overall picks from the last 15 years and see that they get it right a lot. Those picks include players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Connor McDavid, and so on. Not a lot of misses in there.

Back to the structure of the NHL Draft. One of those Junior Leagues that players can be picked from is the North American Hockey League, or the NAHL. That happens to be the league that the Shreveport Mudbugs play in.

That means Mudbugs players are eligible for the NHL Draft, if they're in the draft eligible age window. Its also not ridiculous for NAHL players to be drafted. The NAHL has had 36 players drafted into the NHL over the last 6 years. That number may grow this year as well.

That NHL Central Scouting Office we talked about? They've put out their final list of prospect rankings for NHL teams to use for the Draft, and a Shreveport Mudbug is on that list. He's pretty high on his position too.

Shreveport Mudbugs Goalie Arsenii Sergeev has been named as one of the top goalie prospects by the NHL Central Scouting Office. The 18-year-old goalie is ranked by the Scouting Office as the 8th best North American goalie prospect this year.

You might note that Sergeev's name seems Russian, and that's because it is. He was born in Yaroslavl, Russia. So why is he ranked in the North American prospect pool? It's because he plays for the Mudbugs, and not an overseas team. Those notations are for where a player is currently playing, and not their native country.

NAHL.com put together a recap of Sergeev's season:

"Sergeev, 18, had a very good season for the South Division Champion Mudbugs. The 6’3/190 lbs. native of Yaroslavl, Russia, appeared in 20 games during the 2020-21 regular season and posted a 14-4-2 record with a 2.17 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. He was named the South Division Star of the Week twice on February 1-7 and April 19-25."

But Sergeev isn't the only NAHL player who made the Central Scouting Office list. Fellow South Division goalie Owen Bartoszkiewicz of Wichita Falls also landed on the list. Bartoszkiewicz does appear lower than Sergeev on the prospect rankings, coming in at #22 on the list (Sergeev is #8).

In all there were nine NAHL players who landed on the Central Scouting Office's list.

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