Three Chilliwack Bruins were selected in last weekend’s National Hockey League entry draft, led by Surrey native Kevin Sundher.
The 17-year-old was an early third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, taken 75th overall.
“I’m doing pretty good and I’m happy, happy it’s finally over,” Sundher told the Progress. “Every day leading up to the draft I was imagining myself in a different city with a different team, and it’s a relief now to know who my organization is going to be.”
Sundher chose to stay home for the draft, rather than fly down to Los Angeles to sit in the stands at the Staples Centre.
He was, however, surrounded by family as he waited for his name to be called.
“We ended up having a family luncheon and then a dinner with a lot of my aunts and uncles,” he said. “My dad spent a lot of time on the computer downstairs, and I was watching the NHL Network with my mom and sister, and that’s where I heard my name called. It was so cool to see that, and I don’t even remember anything else for five minutes after that, because I was so happy.”
The Sabres were one of the teams that showed consistent interest in Sundher throughout the off-season. There were a couple teams that told him he would be taken in the second round. When that didn’t happen, he had a good notion he wasn’t going to slip past Buffalo.
“They told my agent they were going to take me for sure if I was still there in the third round,” Sundher said. “So they were one of the teams I imagined, and I think they’re a great fit for what I do.”
Known as one of the NHL’s best teams at the draft table, the Sabres have done well building from the net out with goalie Ryan Miller and defencemen like ex-Kelowna Rocket Tyler Myers.
Up front, they’ve built a capable forward group around speed and skill, two things Sundher possesses in abundance.
He can now start picturing himself lining up alongside the likes of Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly.
“I was the first forward they took and from what I’ve heard so far they seem to regard me pretty high,” Sundher noted. “I’m heading down there next week and hopefully I can make a good first impression.”
Sundher will get his first taste of the NHL life at Buffalo’s prospect camp. There will be some orientation and on–ice work, and then he’ll fly home and get back to work training for the 2010-11 Western Hockey League season.
Sundher is smart enough to realize being a third round pick is a fine start, but that’s all it is.
Sundher can take a page from the book of Chilliwack teammate Ryan Howse, who went from promising third round pick (74th in 2009) to one Calgary Flames fans are salivating over after posting 47 goals last year.
“I’ve got tons of work to do, but I’m motivated to show them I’m a steal,” Sundher said. “Ryan’s moved up a lot of prospect lists with what he’s done, and it’s all because of the hard work he puts into it. He’s going to be better than a lot of guys picked above him in that draft, and that’s how I want to approach things. It’s not where you’re drafted, it’s what you do after you’re drafted.”
Sundher will be able to compare notes with two teammates who were also drafted on the weekend. Linemate and off-season training partner Dylen McKinley was selected in the seventh round, 189th overall by the Minnesota Wild.
Hard-hitting defenceman Tyler Stahl was nabbed in the sixth round (167th overall) by the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Bruins have never had three players drafted in one year.
Oscar Moller and Mark Santorelli set the previous standard, going together in the 2007 NHL entry draft. Moller went 52nd overall to Los Angeles that year, with Santorelli going 119th overall to Nashville.
One other player with Chilliwack ties was selected in this year’s NHL entry draft.
Randy McNaught, who played 87 regular season games for the Bruins from 2007-10, was selected in the seventh round (190th overall) by the New York Rangers.
See the full WHL draftee list to the right.