Saskatoon products hear names called on NHL draft day
By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix
June 25, 2012
Taylor Leier wasn’t at the NHL draft in Pittsburgh to hear his named called Saturday, but he’ll never forget the moment he found out he’d been picked.
The Saskatoon native had just received his gold medal at the World under-18 Ball Hockey Championship following a 1-0 win over Slovakia and was rejoicing with his Canadian teammates.
“We were in the dressing room, celebrating and pumping up the music and then someone screamed, ‘Stop the music,’” said the Portland Winterhawks left-winger during a phone interview from the Czech Republic, where the tournament was taking place.
“Then the guy yelled, ‘Leier you just got drafted 117th by the Philadelphia Flyers.’ And then everyone started piling on me.
“It was the best day of my life my far.”
The former Saskatoon Contact was one of four players — beside members of the Saskatoon Blades — with local connections to be selected on the second day of the draft, joining Chandler Stephenson, Tyrel Seaman and Ryan Olsen.
Stephenson — Leier’s 2009-10 Contacts’ teammate — was chosen in the third round by the Washington Capitals, 77th overall.
The Regina Pats winger attended the draft with his mom, Bev; dad, Curt; and 19-year-old brother, Colton — who retired from the Edmonton Oil Kings last October after suffering a fifth concussion.
The younger Stephenson said he’s now playing with his brother in mind.
“I just stood up and gave him a big hug,” said the 18-year-old, who had 42 points in 55 games last season. “It was good to give him the first hug just for all the things he’s done for me and we’ve been through together.
“It’s sad we can’t chase our dream together, but I guess I’ve got to chase our dream for both of us now.”
Seaman, a Brandon Wheat Kings’ centre, was selected by the St. Louis Blues 206th overall — the sixth-last pick in the draft.
The Choiceland native recorded 19 points in 32 games last season. The 18-year-old watched the draft online was relieved to see his name appear on the screen.
“I’m extremely excited about it,” Seaman said. “It’s one of those things you dream about as a kid being drafted to the NHL.”
Olsen was selected in the sixth round, 160th overall by the Winnipeg Jets. He played the last two seasons for the Saskatoon Blades before being dealt to the Kelowna Rockets on May 3.
Olsen will join Blades centre Lukas Sutter, who was picked in the second round the Jets, in Winnipeg when the NHL team holds its development camp next month.
Backed by a strong second half of the season, the 6-foot-1, 187-pound centre registered 32 points in 67 games and ended the WHL campaign as the Blades’ No. 1 pivot.
“That was the main thing with Winnipeg,” said Olsen, 18, who watched the draft with his parents, John and Sandy, from the family’s Delta, B.C., home. “I heard when they were talking about me that they saw me develop throughout the whole season and they liked what they saw in the end.
“I’m the 160th-best player in the world that’s my age. That’s how I approached it. I’m really excited.”
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