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CEC hockey player chosen in 'futures draft,' but will stay here

Freshman Cloquet-Esko-Carlton hockey scoring sensation Karson Kuhlman of Esko was drafted by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the fourth round of the United States Hockey League "Futures Draft" Tuesday morning.

Freshman Cloquet-Esko-Carlton hockey scoring sensation Karson Kuhlman of Esko was drafted by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the fourth round of the United States Hockey League "Futures Draft" Tuesday morning.

The junior league's draft is for players born in 1995.

The Fighting Saints say they were pleased with all their picks in the draft but a quote from the team's scouting director in the Dubuque newspaper drew a reaction from CEC coach Dave Esse.

"All six of them (the team's draft choices) definitely have the ability to play in the USHL next year," Fighting Saints scouting director Bobby Kinsella told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. "If they're not here next year, we know they will be impact players for us the year after that."

Esse said the chances of Kuhlman being successful in the USHL next year or even following his sophomore year would be remote - and that's not for lack of ability.

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"I just talked with [Kuhlman] about summer training," Esse said. "He hasn't said a word about juniors. For a player of his size, it wouldn't be wise. He's a good player but he's not ready because of how physical [the USHL] is, and I think he'd agree."

For the record, Kuhlman does agree.

"I'm not playing juniors next year," Kuhlman said. "I promise."

Kuhlman scored 17 goals and 52 points for the 'Jacks this past season, shattering Jamie Langenbrunner's school record for points by a freshman.

"I'm happy for him (for being drafted)," Esse said. "It's a nice feather in his cap. But he has to get bigger and stronger and he knows that."

That said, Esse said he thought Kinsella's quote reflected a different philosophy about the game.

"These junior hockey guys, all they care about are wins and losses," Esse said. "No one from that organization ever called me to ask what kind of player Karson is or what kind of kid he is. You think someone would have asked me. If you're going to buy a car, you want information about it. You draft a kid for your future and then you don't talk to the head coach?

"Our record speaks for itself," Esse added. "We've had NHL players who finished their high school careers here, we've had successful Division I college players, and we had Jamie (Langenbrunner) who turned 18 before his senior year and signed a pro contract which was a completely different situation."

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Esse also questioned the ethics of asking young players to step up to the rough-and-tumble world of junior hockey before they are ready.

"As a parent, you only have so much time with your children," he said. "As a parent, why would you want your kids to leave early from your household when they will leave soon anyway? It's a crucial time."

Esse also wishes some contact had come from the USHL team.

"It's not that I'm a high profile guy or anything, but I've coached some pretty good players," he said. "I've only had maybe five contacts from that league in 11 years as a head coach. Maybe it would be good if they would ask."

Related Topics: CARLTONCLOQUETESKOHOCKEY
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