Over the last 20 years, NHL, junior minor-league teams have sprung up in just about every hamlet in America. The AHL stretches from coast-to-coast after absorbing the old IHL. When the Ice played in the CHL, much of the league was based in the South and Southwest. And of course, the NHL has franchises in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, North Carolina and has had two attempts in Georgia.
That is paying off in bringing hockey to somewhat non-traditional places. Blake Coleman, the top Ice player selected in the draft, is from Plano, Texas. The second Ice player picked, Brian Ferlin, hails from Jacksonville, Florida. A couple of Ohioans -- including Sean Kuraly and USNDTP player Tyler Biggs -- have been picked out of a state better known for its football prowess. The Ice's R.J. Boyd -- a 2010 NHL draftee -- is from Florida. As this year's draft haul attests, the Ice have had great success getting players from "non-traditional" markets including the Deep South and West Coast, in addition to the hockey-centric areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and New England. Hockey continues to grow in the United States, and a lot of the Americans drafted have ties to the USHL.
NHL.com noticed the trend, and noticed that the first Minnesotan drafted came at the end of the second round.