What NHL fan wouldn’t want to watch the annual Entry Draft in late June?
That was the position California’s Cole Guttman found himself in on June 24, but there was a catch. The Northridge native said he had an idea that there was a chance his name might appear on the draft ticker at some point.
Sure enough, the intuition of the former LA Selects and LA Jr. Kings center was correct. The Tampa Bay Lightning called his name in the sixth round, 180th overall, despite his absence on some of the major scouting lists entering the draft.
Guttman’s rookie season for Dubuque in the United States Hockey League is tough to overlook. He scored 54 points, equal parts goals and assists, in 53 regular-season games, and he tacked on four more points in six playoff games. And his two-way game is respectable as he checked in with a plus-21. One rival coach told as I was researching California Rubber Magazine‘s all-California Junior Team that Guttman had a mature game.
He also has a mature approach, something his teammates and coaches in Dubuque (and earlier in L.A.) acknowledged when they voted him to wear a letter during his rookie season. Next season he will be the Fighting Saints’ captain under recently hired coach Oliver David, another Golden Stater.
Guttman’s excitement at being selected in the Entry Draft was heightened by seeing good friends from his youth hockey days, Jake McGrew (sixth round, San Jose) and Vanya Lodnia (third round, Minnesota) getting picked on the same day. In all, five members of California’s 2009 Brick team, those three plus Jason Robertson (second round, Dallas) and Sasha Chmelevski (sixth round, San Jose) were picked. And a sixth – Minnesota recruit Brannon McManus, whose Chicago Steel team won the USHL’s Clark Cup – very well could have been.
In addition, Guttman, McGrew, Lodnia and McManus helped the Selects win the elite division of the Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament in 2012, along with Boston College commit Cayla Barnes, John St. Ivany, Cooper Haar and others.
Guttman, who has committed to play at St. Cloud State beginning in fall 2018, took time recently to speak with me about being selected in the draft, what his first pro prospect camp was like and his California ties.