Mel Pearson will have a pair of high draft picks to work with in his first season as head coach at Michigan.
Incoming freshman Josh Norris, a 6-foot, 190-pound center, was taken in the first round by the San Jose Sharks Friday night at the United Center in Chicago. Then Luke Martin, an 18-year-old defenseman who completed his freshman season this past winter, was taken in the second round, No. 52 overall by the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
“He’s got a lot of Logan Couture attributes to him,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told the San Jose Mercury News of Norris, 18, an Oxford native who led the U.S. National Development Program Under-18 team with 61 points in 61 games last season.
Couture, by the way, led all players in postseason scoring during the 2015-16 season (10 goals, 30 points in 24 games), when the Sharks lost to Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Martin, 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, played in all 35 games his freshman year for the Wolverines, contributing a goal and six assists.
Martin played with the U.S. National Development Program Under-18 team in 2015-16 prior to joining the Wolverines.
“You’re extremely happy for Josh and Luke and obviously their families,” said Pearson, who was in Chicago for the draft. “I know it’s been a long road to get to where they are today and it’s a reward for all the time and effort they put toward the game to making themselves players. I always tell them, though, the journey just starts now. It doesn’t matter if you’re a high draft pick or if you weren’t drafted at all, you have something to prove. Both of those guys are important keys to our team going forward next year.”
Norris had three goals and seven points in four games to lead Team USA to the Under-18 Five Nations championship this past winter.
“I think the program (U.S. National Development Program) does a great job of developing those players and helping them get ready for the college game since they play college teams before they even get there,” Pearson said.
Pearson added of Norris and Martin: “He’s good all-around. He’s a good skater, has good size, has good vision, can score, make plays and is a feel-good all-around player.
“I think the first thing that stick out about Luke is just his leadership qualities and the character kid he is. On the ice, he’s a big kid, hard to play against. He takes defense serious and he wants to expand his game offensively.”
Michigan fans hope that Norris can come close to duplicating Kyle Connor's success in his lone year with the Wolverines in 2015-16 when the No. 17 overall pick of the Winnipeg Jets (2015 draft) had 35 goals and 71 points in 38 games to lead them to the Big Ten title and NCAA Tournament appearance.
Martin had his parents, two brothers, sister, sister-in-law and numerous friends at the United Center when his name came up.
“It was unreal, just to be there with my family and friends, have everyone that close around me and experience it with me was just an honor,” Martin said. “The whole entourage was just a good group.”
Martin is looking forward to helping the Wolverines get back to their winning ways with Pearson behind the bench after last year’s 13-19-3 record (6-12-2 Big Ten).
“I’m really excited,” Martin said. “It’s going to be a whole new Michigan team, a whole new attitude and I think we have great things to come and I’m really excited to be a part of it.
“I feel I’m going to have more confidence going into this year, playing with more of an edge and a dominant mindset. That’s what I plan to be working on.”
U.S. 18-U forward Logan Cockerill of Brighton was taken in the seventh round, No. 201 overall by the Islanders. Cockerill, a Boston University recruit, had 13 goals and 24 points in 43 games.
Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Conor Timmins was taken No. 32, the first pick of the second round, by the Colorado Avalanche.
Local players drafted
Local players selected in the seven-round NHL draft on Friday and Saturday:
Michigan C Josh Norris (first round/No. 19 overall), San Jose Sharks.
Sault Ste. Marie D Conor Timmins (2/32), Colorado Avalanche.
Northville F Jason Robertson (2/39), Dallas Stars.
Michigan D Luke Martin (2/52), Carolina Hurricanes.
Novi F Jack Studnicka (2/53), Boston Bruins.
Windsor Spitfires G Michael DiPietro (3/64), Vancouver Canucks.
U.S. 18-U D Max Gildon (3/66), Florida Panthers.
Sault Ste. Marie G Matt Villalta (3/72), Los Angeles Kings.
Muskegon Lumberjacks G Keith Petruzzelli (3/88), Detroit Red Wings.
U.S. 18-U C Evan Barratt (3/90), Chicago Blackhawks.
U.S. 18-U D David Farrance (3/92), Nashville Predators.
U.S. 18-U C Scott Reedy (4/102), San Jose Sharks.
U.S. 18-U D Tyler Inamoto (5/133), Florida Panthers.
Huntington Woods C Drake Rymsha (5/138), Los Angeles Kings.
Flint Firebirds D Fedor Gordeev (5/141), Toronto Maple Leafs.
Saginaw Spirit C Brady Gilmore (7/193), Detroit Red Wings.
U.S. 18-U F Logan Cockerill (7/201), New York Islanders.
U.S. 18-U D Phillip Kemp (7/208), Edmonton Oilers.