BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington PrairieThunder added the rights to a wealth of talent, experience and goals scored during the International Hockey League player dispersal draft Wednesday.
Coach Derek Booth said the Thunder's first four picks were players whom he and general manager Jerry McBurney had targeted while preparing for the draft.
The question now becomes: Their rights have been acquired, but can their services be, too?
"We thought if we could get two or three guys in here, it would be a successful draft," Booth said.
The Thunder acquired the rights to 15 players during the selection process, including Don Parsons, the all-time leading goal scorer among American-born minor-league hockey players.
In total, the six teams that will make up the International Hockey League next season gained the rights to 86 players who are looking for new hockey homes after the teams they played for either folded or changed leagues since the United Hockey League season ended. The UHL changed its name last week to the International Hockey League.
The Thunder drafted five from Elmira, four each from Quad City and Rockford and two from Chicago.
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Parsons is a 38-year-old forward with 623 career goals. He played 70 games and scored 38 goals last season with the Quad City Mallards.
He was a teammate of goaltender Jason Tapp, whom the Thunder drafted with its second selection.
Both Parsons and Tapp own homes in the Quad Cities and were selected because of that community's proximity to Bloomington, Booth said.
"With them both living to close to Bloomington, we wanted guys who we had a good opportunity to sign," he said.
McBurney said team officials were not permitted to talk to players before the draft. But McBurney and Booth had discussions with Tim Taylor, who was the Mallards' team president during that franchise's final few years in the UHL and now oversees that organization's American Hockey League affiliate to the Calgary Flames.
"After talking to Tim, we felt real comfortable that we'd have a good chance to sign them," McBurney said.
Tim Wedderburn, a 26-year-old defenseman with 293 games of experience at the American Hockey League level, was a surprise to still be available to start the third round. Again, the ability to be signed to a contract becomes the issue.
"Even though we have the rights to these players," Booth said, "the E(CHL), Central and American leagues are all negotiating with them at the same time. With our first two picks, we thought we have a great advantage to sign them."
Booth and McBurney were in the process Wednesday of contacting each of the 15 draftees by phone and making qualifying offers. If those offers are accepted, the two parties then begin negotiating a contract.
Jason Ralph, a 28-year-old forward who played with Rockford the past two seasons, was the Thunder's fourth-round pick. The forward had 10 goals and 21 assists last season.
The other 10 picks, in order, are B.J. Radovich (center, Chicago), Jake Moreland (goalie, Rockford), Matt Radoslovich (forward, Quad City), Mike Oliveira (center, Elmira), Andrei Lupandin (defenseman, Elmira), Chad Loikets (defenseman, Rockford), Josh Elzinga (defenseman, Chicago), Patrick Nadeau (right wing, Quad City), Mike Doyle (left wing, Rockford), Noah Katz (center, Elmira) and Eric Lind (defenseman, Elmira).
2007 IHL dispersal draft
Bloomington - Don Parsons (F), Quad City
Port Huron - Marty Magers (G), Chicago
Flint - Steve MacIntyre (D), Quad City
Kalamazoo - Chris Busby (D), Chicago
Muskegon - Todd Grant (LW), Chicago
Fort Wayne - Sergei Durdin (D), Quad City
Bloomington - Jason Tapp (G), Quad City
Port Huron - Chris Gehrke (D), Chicago
Flint - Frederic Cloutier (G), Rockford
Kalamazoo - Chris Mann (D), Quad City
Muskegon - Mark Nebus (F), Chicago
Fort Wayne - Justin Chwedoruk (F), Quad City
Bloomington - Tim Wedderburn (D), Elmira
Port Huron - Mike Letizia (D), Rockford
Flint - Brent Currie (D), Quad City
Kalamazoo - Joel Rechlicz (RW), Chicago
Muskegon - Matt Johnson (F), Chicago
Fort Wayne - Brett Pilkington (F), Quad City
Bloomington - Jason Ralph (F), Rockford
Port Huron - Robert Chappell (D), Elmira
Flint - Nathan Lutz (D), Rockford
Kalamazoo - Jordan Hart (D), Chicago
Muskegon - Matt Amado (C), Chicago
Fort Wayne - Jesse Bennefield (RW), Rockford
Bloomington - B.J. Radovich (C), Chicago
Port Huron - David Morelli (F), Elmira
Flint - Paul Brown (RW), Rockford
Kalamazoo - Tim Plett (F), Chicago
Muskegon - Sean Starke (F), Quad City
Fort Wayne - Anthony Pototschnik (F), Quad City
Bloomington - Jake Moreland (G), Rockford
Port Huron - Bryce Cockburn (RW), Rockford
Flint - Luke Stauffacher (F), Quad City
Kalamazoo - Maris Ziedins (C), Chicago
Muskegon - Bruce Watson (LW), Rockford
Fort Wayne - Mike Sgroi (LW), Elmira
Bloomington - Matt Radoslovich (F), Quad City
Port Huron - Drew Otten (F), Chicago
Flint - Dan Veenema (D), Elmira
Kalamazoo - Matt Gens (D), Rockford
Muskegon - Corey Hessler (D), Rockford
Fort Wayne - Travis Granbois (F), Quad City
Bloomington - Mike Oliveira (C), Elmira
Port Huron - Dan Boeser (D), Rockford
Flint - Luke Fritshaw (D), Rockford
Kalamazoo - Preston Mizzi (C), Rockford
Muskegon - Benoit Doucet (LW), Rockford
Fort Wayne - Erik Anderson (C), Elmira
Bloomington - Andrei Lupandin (D), Elmira
Port Huron - Darryl McArthur (D), Chicago
Flint - Jason Notermann (LW), Rockford
Kalamazoo - Brad Smith (G), Quad City
Muskegon - Jami Yoder (D), Quad City
Fort Wayne - Mike Kautz (D), Chicago
Bloomington - Chad Loikets (D), Rockford
Port Huron - Mike Brolsma (C), Quad City
Flint - Curtis Tidball (RW), Elmira
Kalamazoo - Rod Aldoff (D), Chicago
Muskegon - Kelly Miller (C), Chicago
Fort Wayne - Will McMahon (F), Quad City
Bloomington - Josh Elzinga (D), Chicago
Port Huron - Scott Seney (C), Chicago
Flint - Zach Sikich (G), Elmira
Kalamazoo - Nicolas Corbeil (C), Rockford
Muskegon - Thomas Zabkowicz (D), Chicago
Fort Wayne - Shawn Degagne (G), Elmira
Bloomington - Patrick Nadeau (RW), Quad City
Port Huron - Dave Lemanowicz (G), Chicago
Flint - T.J. Reynolds (D), Elmira
Kalamazoo - Andrew Leach (F), Elmira
Muskegon - Kaleb Betts (F), Rockford
Fort Wayne - Bobby Kukulka (RW), Elmira
Bloomington - Mike Doyle (LW), Rockford
Port Huron - Kevin Ulanski (F), Rockford
Flint - Pass
Kalamazoo - Dale Lupul (D), Quad City
Muskegon - Derek Miller (D), Quad City
Fort Wayne - Frank Littlejohn (RW), Elmira
Bloomington - Noah Katz (C), Elmira
Port Huron - Chad Woollard (F), Quad City
Flint - Pass
Kalamazoo - Blake Stewart (LW), Quad City
Muskegon - Scott Drevitch (D), Elmira
Fort Wayne - Chaz Johnson (RW), Rockford
Bloomington - Eric Lind (D), Elmira
Port Huron - Marc Lefebvre (LW), Elmira
End of draft