Written By: Brad Elliott Schlossman | Oct 7th 2020 - 1pm.
Chris Kleven's old high school teammate, Lee Brodeur, has held the distinction of being North Dakota's highest-drafted high school player for 36 years.
Brodeur, who played at Grafton, went No. 65 overall to the Montreal Canadiens in 1984.
Late Wednesday morning, Kleven's old teammate passed that distinction on to Kleven's son.
The Ottawa Senators picked UND defenseman Tyler Kleven, who played high school hockey at Fargo Davies, with the No. 44 overall pick in the second round, making him the highest-drafted North Dakotan ever.
Kleven, who was watching the draft from a suite in Ralph Engelstad Arena, slipped on a Senators hat and hugged his family members.
"Lee was a special player," Kleven said. "He was that good. I'm not sure if he ever wanted to play pro. He was a very smart guy. He was just that good at everything he did.
"(Watching Tyler get drafted) was a special moment for all of us. He's glad to be drafted and given the opportunity to continue playing hockey after college, whenever that may be."
Kleven was only the third Fargo player ever selected in the NHL Draft.
The others were Danny Irmen, who went No. 78 to the Minnesota Wild in 2003, and Brian Williams, who went No. 178 to the Montreal Canadiens in 1982. Irmen and Williams both went to Fargo North. Irmen, who also played at Grand Forks Red River, played college at Minnesota and suited up for the Wild for two games. Williams played at UND and served as a team captain as a senior.
Kleven played for Davies as a sophomore before heading to the Michigan-based U.S. National Team Development Program for two years.
"Since a child, he was growing up with a passion to play the game," UND coach Brad Berry said. "This is a day where it's pretty exciting for him and our program. I think it's one of those things where he's going to continue to prove to people that he's a very good player and he has very good pro potential coming from the state of North Dakota. It's great to see that."
Kleven will join a slew of UND players in Ottawa's system. That includes Kleven's Walsh Hall dormitory roommate Jake Sanderson, who the Senators selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the first round Tuesday night.
The Senators have used five first- or second-round picks on UND-bound players in the last three years.
In 2018, they took defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker in the first round (No. 26) and defenseman Jonny Tychonick in the second round (No. 48). Tychonick transferred to Omaha in the offseason.
In 2019, Ottawa used the top pick of the second round, No. 32 overall, to take UND forward Shane Pinto.
This year, they added Sanderson and Kleven.
"It's pretty neat; they spend a lot of time together, those two guys," Berry said. "They're really good friends, starting at the Program for a couple years, coming here, hopefully staying a while, and eventually getting to Ottawa. Those guys have ultimate respect for each other. They push each other. They're very competitive, both of them. It's one of those things where each and every day, they push the bar up higher to see which one can elevate and get higher and higher. That's great to see.
"Not only that, but to have relationships with other guys in the program like JBD and Shane Pinto and hopefully building that chemistry to hopefully play together at the next level, too."
There wasn't much time for Kleven to celebrate being picked.
Kleven was drafted at 11:38 a.m. and his flight out of Grand Forks for the World Junior Championship selection camp was scheduled for 12:52 p.m. So, he immediately sprinted out of The Ralph to his car. Kleven still needed to pack and head to the airport, but he did make his flight.
Kleven is widely considered the most physically intimidating player in the draft. The 6-foot-4, 198-pound defenseman has an ability to deliver devastating hits on a regular basis, but he also has some underrated offensive skills.
"The game is changing," said Seth Appert, who coached Kleven the last two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program. "It's different now. But physical intimidation and physical play is still of major importance in the game of hockey and he has that in spades. He has that combined with being 6-4, really mobile and offensively talented. His numbers don't say that, but he is an offensively talented player. He's got a great stick. He shoots the puck a ton."
No. 44 overall - Tyler Kleven, Fargo Davies, Ottawa Senators (2020)
No. 65 overall - Lee Brodeur, Grafton, Montreal Canadiens (1984)
No. 72 overall - Alex Schoenborn, Minot, San Jose Sharks (2014)
No. 74 overall - Dennis Johnson, GF Central, Detroit Red Wings (1972)
No. 78 overall - Danny Irmen, Fargo North-Red River, Minnesota Wild (2003)
No. 79 overall - Dave Hanson, GF Central, Philadelphia Flyers (1984)
No. 87 overall - Keaton Thompson, Devils Lake, Anaheim Ducks (2013)
No. 87 overall - Ryan Potulny, Red River, Philadelphia Flyers (2003)
No. 113 overall - Jackson Kunz, Red River, Vancouver Canucks (2020)
1972 - Dennis Johnson, GFC, 5th round, 74th overall, Detroit Red Wings
1978 - Mark Berge, RR, 11th round, 182nd overall, Philadelphia Flyers
1982 - Brian Williams, FN, 9th round, 187th overall, Montreal Canadiens
1982 - Tim Loven, RR, 11th round, 213rd overall, Toronto Maple Leafs
1984 - Lee Brodeur, GPR, 4th round, 65th overall, Montreal Canadiens
1984 - Dave Hanson, GFC, 4th round, 79th overall, Philadelphia Flyers
1988 - Chad Johnson, GFC, 6th round, 117th overall, New Jersey Devils
1989 - Mike Markovich, GFC, 6th round, 121st overall, Pittsburgh Penguins
1991 - Brent Brekke, Jamestown, 9th round, 188th overall, Quebec Nordiques
1994 - Mike Peluso, BHS, 10th round, 253rd overall, Calgary Flames
1994 - Mike Hanson, Minot, 11th round, 269th overall, New Jersey Devils
2000 - Grant Potulny, RR, 5th round, 157th overall, Ottawa Senators
2001 - Andy Schneider, RR, 5th round, 156th overall, Pittsburgh Penguins
2001 - James Massen, BHS, 6th round, 194th overall, New Jersey Devils
2003 - Danny Irmen, FN-RR, 3rd round, 78th overall, Minnesota Wild
2003 - Ryan Potulny, RR, 3rd round, 87th overall, Philadelphia Flyers
2012 - Paul LaDue, GFC, 6th round, 181st overall, Los Angeles Kings
2013 - Keaton Thompson, DL, 3rd round, 87th overall, Anaheim Ducks
2013 - Luke Johnson, RR-GFC, 5th round, 134th overall, Chicago Blackhawks
2014 - Alex Schoenborn, Minot, 3rd round, 72nd overall, San Jose Sharks
2019 - Judd Caulfield, GFC, 5th round, 145th overall, Pittsburgh Penguins
2020 - Tyler Kleven, Fargo Davies, 2nd round, 44th overall, Ottawa Senators
2020 - Jackson Kunz, F, RR, 4th round, 113th overall, Vancouver Canucks
Freshman Fighting Hawks defenseman Tyler Kleven talks with UND head hockey coach Brad Berry (left) and UND President Andrew Armacost (right) during Tuesday's NHL draft event at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks HeraldNick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald