Just two years ago, Ohio State had three players taken in the 2014 NHL Draft. Tyler Nanne, Miguel Fidler and Dakota Joshua were all selected in the fifth round that year, but not a single player committed to Ohio State was taken in the 2015 NHL Draft. While Coach Steve Rohlik hasn’t been able to bring in that bundle of NHL talent he saw two years ago, he does have one player likely to be taken this year at the 2016 NHL Draft taking place on June 24-25 in Buffalo, NY: Tanner Laczynski.
The American 1997 center hails from Shorewood, Illinois, less than six hours from Columbus, and played his USHL hockey local as well for the Chicago Steel until being dealt to the Lincoln Stars in February 2016. Laczynski put up 46 points in 57 games in his first full season in the USHL for Chicago, and then broke out in 2015-16, scoring 24 goals and 63 points in 52 games combined for Chicago and Lincoln while also increasing his overall +/- from -7 to +10.
Laczynski has also been a member of the Team USA U18 team for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2014, where the US took third place and Laczynski put up one goal and one assist in five games. He then represented his country on the US’ U19 team at the World Junior A Challenge, where the US again took third place, with Tanner registering three assists in five games.
He stands at 6’ tall but at only 174 lbs., per EliteProspects. That, along with the steep learning curves we’ve seen for Nanne, Fidler and Joshua, amongst others, gives one pause when expecting Laczynski to step right in next year and put up a freshman season that Nick Schilkey would be proud of. He's probably going to need some time in the weight room, especially since he’s coming in right after becoming draft eligible; he just turned 19 on June 1, after all. He may be old for his draft year, already being 19 years old, but at only 174 lbs., he’s going to need some time to adjust to the more mature and, frankly, large college game.
So where is Tanner likely to go in the draft? In the final NHL Central Scouting rankings, the center from Illinois finished ranked number 99 among North American skaters, likely putting him in the 4th-6th round range when considering European skaters to be taken as well. We’ve seen Dakota Joshua come in as a projected 5th rounder and make an impact and succeed, albeit on a limited basis, so this should not be disconcerting for the Ohio State hockey fan. Any NHL talent should be welcomed. After all, Ryan Dzingel, former Ohio State hockey All-American, was just a seventh rounder.
He doesn’t strike me as the type of player that NHL teams consistently undervalue as he does have good size, so he should find his name called in the draft on the second day, which is probably all you can ask for. But what do we know about the real Tanner Laczynski?
He’s apparently a Pitch Perfect fan, as he’s been seen singing Cee Lo Green’s “Bright Lights Bigger City” a cappella, as seen in the the Treble Makers’ finale performance at Lincoln Center:
He (smartly) has his own tweets protected however, as we all know you should never tweet. But his avatar is publicly available and it’s a fantastic collection of hockey hair:
So what we know about Tanner Laczynski is that he loves Pitch Perfect, has friends with beautiful manes and can score from the center position. One of those is very valuable to NHL teams as we will see on June 24-25 in Buffalo, and the other two will make us all great fans of his for years to come.
I hope Tanner agrees that Das Sound Machine was robbed of winning the World Finals in Pitch Perfect 2.