TOPEKA, Kan. – The Topeka RoadRunners took a big step towards putting the 2016-17 roster together Tuesday with eight picks in the NAHL Draft. All of the picks were either defensemen or forwards.
“We know we had holes to fill, especially on the blue line,” said Topeka Director of Player/Personnel Tim Christian. “We feel good about the picks we made today. We have depth up front and on defense. We know they are just names on paper right now, but it’s a tremendous finish to the process.”
Hinsdale, Ill., defenseman Colin Swoyer – a recent draft pick by the USHL’s Chicago Steel – was Topeka’s first pick. Swoyer is a product of the Chicago Fury’s U16 and U18 programs.
“We understand that there’s a strong chance that Swoyer will wind up in the USHL, but we will be a good Plan B for him if that situation arises,” said Topeka Head Coach Josh Kamrass. “He’s a high-end kid and worth the risk with a first-round pick.”
Twitter accounts lit up with the RoadRunners’ second overall pick, DJ Busdeker. Busdeker is a 1999-born forward from Detroit Compuware U15 and U16 programs, coached by Todd Jenkins. Busdeker has the track record of putting up points – including a 95-point effort two years ago.
“DJ has high-end skill,” said Topeka GM Joe Clark, who coached Jenkins at the University of Maine in the late 1980’s. “He is very excited to become a RoadRunner. He will have some adjustments to make, of course, but we believe he will be an elite forward in the near future.”
The RoadRunners had another second-round pick, and went out East to use it. Topeka selected forward George Sennott, a 1997-born left-shot forward from North Andover, Mass. Sennott played the past several years at Kimball Union Academy under coach Tim Whitehead.
Topeka’s staff next pick was in the 4th round, in which they selected Barrie, Ontario, defenseman Matthew Barnes, who attended the RoadRunners’ recent NAHL Pre-Draft camp in Somerset, Wisc. Barnes played in 94 games over the past two seasons for the Orangeville Flyers of the OJHL. The RoadRunners then went to Minnesota for their 5th-round pick, selecting St. Paul Johnson High School forward Christian Sanda, who averaged over a point per game last season.
The RoadRunners returned to Orangeville and the OJHL with their 6th-round pick, grabbing forward Jack Jeffers, and followed that up with taking Clarkson, Mich., native Alex Frye. Frye is a forward who played for the Chicago Steel last season and is expected to return to Chicago this season. Topeka finished the draft by returning to Massachusetts and taking forward Jake Witkowski, who played for Avon Old Farms prep school last season.
“From Sennott to Witkowski, we think these kids have something to offer our organization,” said Christian. “They are character kids, which is very important to us, and they can play. We are excited for what’s in front of us.”
The RoadRunners will host their final camp of the season next month in Chicago as the RoadRunners will visit The Edge Arena in Bensenville, Ill., fromJuly 7-10 for their open camp. At that camp, all of Topeka’s veteran returning veteran players will be on hand as well as tendered players and Tuesday’s draft picks.
“That will be a tremendous measuring stick for us, having our vets at that camp,” said Kamrass. “It will be a true test of what these younger players can do.”