DALLAS — It’s always a point of pride for Manitobans — watching one of their own walk up to the podium as the latest NHL draft pick.
Folks didn’t have to wait long to see it happen last year as Winnipeg’s Nolan Patrick was selected second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. But this year’s draft, which begins tonight here in the Lone Star State, is going to require a bit more patience.
Not only is it a mystery as to when the first local selection will occur, but also whose name will be called.
There’s a good chance it’s going to be either Winnipeg defenceman Jett Woo or Brandon forward Calen Addison, who were ranked 28th and 30th overall among North American skaters in the final Central Scouting rankings released in April.
How that translates once things get underway remains to be seen.
Craig Button, a former NHL executive who is now the director of scouting with TSN, had Addison 44th and Woo 52nd in his final rankings from earlier this month.
It’s worth noting the Winnipeg Jets don’t have a pick until late in the second round, 60th overall. Might one of the above two still be available and potentially fall to them?
Woo began the year projected to go much higher but fell as he battled injuries this year with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. Addison’s stock went up following a solid campaign with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Anther player to watch is Winnipeg forward Riley Stotts, who began his season ranked 88th and shot up to 51st by the end. He put up solid numbers after being traded to the Calgary Hitmen from the Swift Current Broncos during the season.
“It’s obviously an exciting time. But it’s one day. No matter what happens I’m going to keep working hard,” Stotts told the Free Press on Thursday in a telephone interview. He isn’t attending the draft in person but will be watching on television.
“Whatever happens, happens,” said Stotts. “That trade was a big part of the year for me. They really helped me develop as a player, and I thought that I improved as a player and as an individual as well.”
Stotts was not on Button’s Top 100 list.
Nor were four other Manitobans who managed to crack the Central Scouting final rankings. Foxwarren defenceman Dawson Barteaux of the Red Deer Rebels is 135th, while Arborg forward Jermaine Loewen of the Kamloops Blazers is 160th.
Then there’s a pair of goalies in Altona’s Matthew Thiessen and Brandon’s Max Paddock. Thiessen, who played with the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, is the fourth-ranked netminder. Paddock, who plays for the WHL’s Regina Pats, is 22nd.
If any of them are drafted, it will likely be in one of the later rounds.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.