Fairbanks Ice Dogs defenseman Dylan Abbott is among 16 players with North American Hockey League ties whom the National Hockey League Central Scouting has recognized as prospects to watch for next year’s draft.
The 58th annual NHL Entry Draft is scheduled for June 26-27 at the Centre Bell in Montreal.
Abbott, a Wasilla native who’s in his second season with the Ice Dogs, is among six NAHL players with a “C” ranking — which means a player is a possibility to get selected in the fourth, fifth or sixth rounds of the draft — from Central Scouting.
“I think it’s everyone’s dream, as a little kid, to play in the National Hockey League,” Abbott said after Wednesday morning’s practice at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, where the Ice Dogs have their home-opening series against the Minnesota Magicians at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“It’s humbling. I’m really excited and happy for the team, and the team is happy for me.”
If an NHL team announces Abbott’s name at the Centre Bell next summer, he would be the fourth Ice Dogs player since 2016 to be drafted.
“It’s exciting, it’s exciting for Dylan,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said after Wednesday’s practice. “We had a plan going into this offseason about him returning and getting on the radar of NHL teams, and he’s done that.
“He’s a player with a lot of potential and he’s continuing to get better every day.”
Sixty-nine NHL scouts attended the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota, last month. The Ice Dogs finished 1-3-0-0 in the season-opening, four-day tournament at the Schwan’s Super Rink.
Right wing Todd Burgess was selected in the fourth round and 103rd overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2016. Burgess, a Phoenix native who’s now a junior for the NCAA Division I program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, skated for the Ice Dogs from 2013-16.
Benton Maass, an Ice Dogs defenseman in 2016-17, was picked by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round and 182nd overall in 2017.
The native of Elk River, Minnesota, which also is Stewart’s hometown, is in his junior season for the University of New Hampshire.
Logan Neaton, an Ice Dogs goaltender in 2017-18, went to the Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round and 144th overall in this year’s draft. The native of Brighton, Michigan, is in his freshman season for the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Abbott has contributed five assists in six games this season for the Ice Dogs. He’s the leading scorer among the team’s defensemen, and he’s tied with forward Adam Eisele for fourth in overall team scoring.
Abbott contributed a goal and 20 assists in 53 games last season. He sustained a fractured wrist during the playoffs last season and had surgery this past summer.
The series against the Magicians, a Midwest Division rival, is sponsored by Odom Corporation, Coors Light and Gene’s Chrysler.
Vehicles from Gene’s Chrysler are scheduled to be on display in front of the Big Dipper. The new Coors Light four-wheeler will be on display during intermissions this weekend.
The four-wheeler will be given away late in the season after a series of qualifying contests during intermissions in the regular season.
“There will be a lot of realy cool first-time things happening at the game, but only way you’re going to see it is if you’re here,” Ice Dogs general manager Rob Proffitt said Wednesday at the Big Dipper.
Among the new contests during the season is the House of Fire Pizza Hot Minute.
Proffitt said the contest involves a designated minute during Ice Dogs games. If the Ice Dogs score during the designated minute, a “special” person will be picked to receive a $50 gift card to the House of Fire Pizza.
Proffitt said the designated minute could occur more than once during a game.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.