First Time At Least Three Cornell-Bound Players Drafted Since 2014
NASHVILLE — Incoming freshmen forwards Jonathan Castagna and Ryan Walsh and defenseman Hoyt Stanley all heard their names called on the second day of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft inside Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.
With the trio of selections, it marks the third consecutive draft in which multiple Cornell-bound players were drafted. Rising junior defenseman Hank Kempf (N.Y. Rangers) and former Big Red forward Justin Ertel (Dallas) were taken in 2021, while incoming players George Fegaras (Dallas) and Luke Devlin (Pittsburgh) were chosen in last year’s draft.
The three draft picks mark the most Cornell selections in a single draft since 2014 when Beau Starrett (88th overall by Chicago), Anthony Angello (145th overall by Pittsburgh), Jared Fiegl (191st overall by Arizona), and Dwyer Tschantz (202nd overall by St. Louis) were all drafted.
In total, seven players with ECAC Hockey ties were drafted to NHL clubs on Thursday with Cornell leading the way with three selections. Quinnipiac had two while RPI and Yale rounded out the list with one apiece.
Castagna, a forward, was taken by Arizona in the third round with the 70th overall pick. It was the highest selection for an incoming Cornell player since Matt Stienburg was drafted by Colorado with the 63rd overall pick in 2019.
Over the last two seasons at St. Andrew’s College in his native Ontario, Castagna registered 92 points (39 goals, 53 assists) in 85 career games.
This past season, the Etobicoke, Ontario, native captained the St. Andrew’s squad where he appeared in 50 contests and tallied 72 points (29 goals, 43 assists). His performance led him to earning the team’s Most Valuable Player award, while also being named to the league’s All-Star Team. He was also tabbed an all-star at the MacPherson Tournament.
“Jonathan has great compete, is tenacious on every shift, and plays at a high pace,” the Cornell coaching staff told ECAC Hockey. “His leadership skills are going to be invaluable to the organization.”
Notes on Castagna
• Castagna becomes the fifth Cornell player to be drafted out of St. Andrew’s College, all of which have come since 2017, joining Morgan Barron (2017), Stienburg (2019), Ertel (2021), and Devlin (2022), who played at St. Andrew’s in 2021-22, but spent last year in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with West Kelowna.
• It is the second time a Cornell player was selected with the 70th overall pick, joining Roy Kerling who was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the fifth round of the 1978 NHL Draft.
• Castagna is the seventh player with a Cornell connection drafted in Coyotes franchise history, but only the third by the Coyotes (David LeNeveu in 2002 and Fiegl in 2014). The first four players were picked by the Winnipeg Jets before the team relocated to Arizona following the 1995-96 season.
Stanley, a right-shot defenseman, was the 108th overall selection by Ottawa in the fourth round.
The 6-foot-3 blueliner spent the previous two seasons with Victoria in the BCHL, where he had 38 points (four goals, 34 assists) in 53 games last year. His successful season on the ice led to him being named to the BCHL Top Prospects Game while earning a spot on the league’s All-Rookie Team.
“Hoyt is a very mobile defenseman that can move pucks and get pucks down to the net, in addition to his very good hockey sense,” the coaching staff told ECAC Hockey.
Notes on Stanley
• Stanley is also the second Cornell player taken with the 108th overall selection. Dave Burke was the first when he was selected by Toronto in the fifth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.
• Continuing with the trend of being the second Cornell player, Stanley joins Colin Greening as the lone Big Red players selected by Ottawa. Greening was the 204th overall pick in 2005.
Walsh was the third and final Cornell player selected on Thursday when he was picked by Boston in the sixth round (188th overall).
The 6-foot-1 centerman had an impressive 2022-23 campaign with Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League (USHL), where he led the RoughRiders in all scoring categories: goals (30), assists (49), points (79) and was named to the USHL’s First All-Star Team.
His 49 helpers were tied for the most in the USHL, while his 79 points — which broke the previous franchise record which stood for 16 seasons — was the second-most in the league.
“Ryan has great hockey sense which is his greatest attribute,” the Cornell coaching staff said to ECAC Hockey. “He makes those around him better. This was visible this past season in the USHL. He will be a valuable piece to the organization.”
Notes on Walsh
• Walsh becomes the fourth Cornell player to be drafted by Boston, joining the likes of Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden (1964), former Big Red standout and assistant coach Casey Jones (1987), and former NHLer Byron Bitz (2003).
• The 188th overall pick also marked the second time a Big Red player was taken with that pick, joining Stephen Bâby in 1999 (Atlanta).
• Ironically, the last two instances of a Cornell player being drafted by the Bruins featured the NHL Entry Draft being held in Nashville.
(Cornell Men’s Hockey Photo)