Quinnipiac’s Ty Smilanic selected by Florida Panthers in NHL Draft


Photo Courtesy: Rena Laverty/USA Hockey NTDP

Jacob Resnick

Ty Smilanic made some Hamden history on Wednesday, even before stepping onto the ice at the People’s United Center.

The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey first-year forward became the highest-drafted player in program history when the Florida Panthers took him with the 74th overall selection in the third round of the NHL Draft.

Smilanic is the 12th player to be selected during his time as a Bobcat. Three of his teammates — Skyler Brind’Amour (Edmonton), Keith Petruzzelli (Detroit), and Peter DiLiberatore (Vegas) — currently have their draft rights held by an NHL franchise.

Smilanic, 18, had been ranked as the 24th-best prospect available in the draft by the NHL Central Scouting Services. He spent the past two seasons in the United States National Team Development Program, scoring 28 goals and adding 33 assists.

Concerns over various injuries suffered in 2019-20 might have contributed to a later-than-anticipated selection, but Smilanic still managed to beat Petruzzelli’s 88th-overall slot in 2017.

“Smilanic is a complete talent who can be relied on in all situations,” EliteProspects.com wrote in their annual Draft Guide. “He anticipates passes and can cut them off using his long reach. In defensive zone battles, Smilanic uses his frame efficiently to outmuscle competition and dig pucks out of scrums.”

Before he embarks on a professional career, the 6-foot-1 center will join a Quinnipiac team looking to get back to the ECAC Hockey tournament in 2021 — an opportunity it was robbed of last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rand Pecknold’s squad returns its leading scorer Wyatt Bongiovanni, its leading distributor and newly-named captain Odeen Tufto, and Petruzzelli, its starting goaltender.

Though the conference has not yet announced plans for the 2020-21 season, the Bobcats have resumed on-ice practices while maintaining safety protocols.