Gopher Recruit Now Among Hawks Selected
The sun is shining on Waterloo Black Hawks forward Tom Novak in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday morning after the Nashville Predators selected the 18-year-old during the third round of the 2015 National Hockey League Draft.
The Predators used the 85th overall pick to acquire the 6-0, 180-pound University of Minnesota recruit.
“Tom is a playmaker. He has outstanding vision and can think at a different speed than a many of the guys on the ice. Last season, he showed that he has the ability to change a game,” said Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley.
During 46 appearances for the Black Hawks in 2014/15, Novak had multiple points 15 times. The River Falls, Wisconsin, native completed the season with 48 points, second-most on the team. He led the Hawks with 34 assists and a team-best +14 plus/minus differential. United States Hockey League coaches and general managers named Novak to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team for his exploits.
In addition to his performances for the Black Hawks, Novak capitalized on several other opportunities to impress scouts, perhaps none more successfully than his effort at the World Junior A Challenge in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. During the December tournament, Novak led the United States with seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games, including the game-winning goal in overtime during the gold medal contest against Denmark. He was, not surprisingly, recognized with a place on the Tournament All-Star Team.
With a strong body of work throughout the season, NHL Central Scouting had ranked Novak as the 28th-best North American skating prospect this draft season.
The Predators developed former Black Hawk captain Craig Smith from draft day 2009 to NHL opening day 2011. Smith has been a regular fixture in the Nashville lineup ever since. Defenseman Mark Eaton also spent five seasons with the Predators from 2000 through 2006. Nashville’s most recent selection of a Black Hawk was Zach Stepan in 2012 before he came to Waterloo the following season.