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StarPhoenix article (Blades wait until second round for call)

June 25 2012 at 7:25 AM
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N. W. Bruin  (Login NW_Bruin_GM)

Blades wait until second round for call

Thrower, Sutter chosen, Makarov not picked

By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix

June 25, 2012 9:14 AM

The Montreal Canadiens drafted Dalton Thrower.

Photograph by: Getty Images , The StarPhoenix

Draft-eligible members of the Saskatoon Blades were forced to wait until Saturday for the chance to the hear their names called at the NHL draft in Pittsburgh.

That wait was relatively quick and painless for forward Lukas Sutter and defenceman Dalton Thrower, both of whom were secondround picks. But for goalie Andrey Makarov, the wait ended in shocking disappointment.

After Friday's first round came and went, Sutter was selected 39th overall by the Winnipeg Jets and Thrower went soon after at 51st to the Montreal Canadiens.

Makarov, however, was not one of the 211 players chosen.

Sutter, a Blades centre, was rated 39th by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft and went exactly where the pundits predicted. That didn't mean he didn't have a restless Friday night, though.

"It was tough to sit through last night," Sutter said Saturday. "Obviously, the expectations weren't to go last night. Still, the thought's in the back of your mind that there might be an opportunity."

Sutter said he spoke with the Jets Wednesday morning and he had a good feeling he might be selected in the second round.

"They gave me an idea they might take a chance on me," he said. "I'm really excited it worked out that way.

"I'm on cloud nine. I still can't even really begin to put it into words."

The 6-foot, 215-pound centre becomes the 11th Sutter to be selected in an NHL draft. Of the second-generation family members, Sutter is the second-youngest male. His uncle Ron has a 12-year-old son, Riley.

But getting the chance to share the moment with his immediate family was the best part for the Lethbridge product. His father Rich, mother Rhonda, and sisters Kendra and Sabra were all in Pittsburgh.

"My family is my support system. My sisters are two of my very best friends," Sutter said. "I wouldn't be where I am today with the morals and values my parents have instilled in me."

That's something Thrower fully understands.

The Blades' defenceman had an entourage of 13 people in Pittsburgh to see him get drafted by the Canadiens. Included in that group were his sister Danae, brother Josh, and parents Murray and Melanie - who are both cancer survivors.

"Everything that me and my family have been through, for them to be there and share this experience with me, I couldn't ask for anything more," said the Squamish, B.C., native. "It made it that much better for me."

Like Sutter, Thrower was a little antsy after not being selected during the first round on Friday.

Rated 26th by NHL Central Scouting but ranked as a second-round pick by other scouting services, Thrower was a little worried as the draft reached Day 2.

"It was pretty stressful after that night," said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound rearguard. "I didn't get much sleep, but for them to pick me where they picked me, it's a huge honour.

"It's one of those feelings that you never really have."

Thrower now joins Blades defenceman Darren Dietz in the Canadiens' stable of prospects. Dietz was selected by the Canadiens in the fifth round in 2011.

To top off the experience for Thrower, he was selected immediately after Kelowna Rockets captain Colton Sissons, his former midget AAA teammate with the B.C. champion Northwest Vancouver Giants.

"It was pretty cool," Thrower said. "We were sitting right beside each other. Right when he walked down the step to give me a hug, my name was called."

That never happened for Makarov, though.

Backed by 29 wins for the Blades and a 57-save performance in the gold-medal contest of the world junior championship - which he and his Russian teammates lost 1-0 to Sweden in overtime - Makarov was deemed the seventh-best goaltender available by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft.

The Red Line Report, an independent scouting service, touted him as the third-best netminder.

However, 24 goalies were picked instead of Makarov.

"I don't know what happened," said Makarov, who attended the draft in Pittsburgh. "I'll just keep working and maybe I'll be a free agent in a camp.

"I can always be better. I will play good this season."

Makarov will once again be eligible for the 2013 draft. He'll become a free agent if he isn't picked at that time.

Mark Seidel, chief scout of North American Central Scouting, said the fact that Makarov is 19 and was entering the draft for the second time may have scared off some teams. As could the so-called Russian factor, where teams are afraid to select a Russian player out of fear he might bolt for the Kontinental Hockey League, he added.

But Seidel - who pegged Makarov as the 64th overall pick prior to the draft - isn't buying either of those excuses, especially since the goaltender played the last two seasons in the Canadian Hockey League.

"I am shocked. I find it hard to believe," Seidel said. "There are certain guys where you shake your head and wonder - in a couple years - why teams will be fighting over them as a free agent, potentially.

"This is a kid that proved he has the athleticism. He's got the pedigree. I mean, he started at the world juniors."

Without an NHL rookie camp to train for, Makarov said he will head back to Russia on Tuesday for the rest of the summer.

BLADE BITS: Blades right-winger Josh Nicholls was not picked in the draft and now becomes a free agent. Nicholls, a seventh-round 2010 pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, reentered the draft after failing to come to terms on an entry-level contract with the Leafs before the June 1 deadline.

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