ST. PAUL, Minn. – From Saskatchewan to Stockholm, NHL prospects came to the draft, hoping to hear their names called.
Rocco Grimaldi’s height made him wait until the second day, but the delay couldn’t keep him down.
“I’d heard that I was the wild card of the draft. No one really knew when I was going to go. It depended on if someone wanted to ‘take a risk’ on a small guy,” said Grimaldi, a 5-foot-6 center who was selected Saturday with the third pick of the second round, 33rd overall, by the Florida Panthers. “It’s crazy.”
Two picks before Grimaldi, the Edmonton Oilers continued their reconstruction project by selecting defenseman David Musil to start the second round. Musil had six goals and 19 assists for Vancouver in the Western Hockey League last season.
“Edmonton is a great organization, and I’m really looking forward to going there,” Musil said, echoing the sentiment of center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick Friday.
Musil’s father, Frantisek, once played for the Oilers.
The Oilers had three of the first 31 picks and six of the first 92, after taking left wing Taylor Hall first overall last year.
There were 33 players taken from the WHL, starting with Nugent-Hopkins, second only to the Ontario Hockey League, which produced 46 picks this year. In the native country category, Canada topped the list, of course, with 79 selections. The United States had 64, and Sweden followed with 28 over the seven-round event.
The Minnesota Wild kept their fans cheering by trading their third- and fourth-round picks to the Vancouver Canucks and moving into the second round to take left wing Mario Lucia at No. 60.
Lucia played at Wayzata High School in the Twin Cities area, and his father, Don, is head coach at the University of Minnesota.
Seth Ambroz, the 31st-ranked North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service, had to wait until the fifth round, 128th overall, to hear his name called by Columbus.
The right wing from nearby New Prague told Blue Jackets fans, “Hopefully you got a steal.”
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