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Draft day 'a dream come true' for Montreal Canadiens prospect Riley Kidney

Zack Ostapchuk worked hard to recover from a lower-body injury and return to the ice for the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants this season.

Zack Ostapchuk worked hard to recover from a lower-body injury and return to the ice for the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants this season.

The hard work was noticed Saturday when the Ottawa Senators selected the six-foot-three, 205-pound centre 39th overall in the NHL entry draft.

The pick was the first by a Canadian team on the second day of the draft.

COVID-19 restrictions meant the Giants could only play a 22-game season this year, but Ostapchuk took full advantage, registering 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) and was voted the team’s most-improved player.

“Earning that was a huge honour for me,“ he said from his family’s home in St. Albert, Alta., on Saturday. ”I think that’s a feather in the cap for the hard work I put in in the off-season. I think I had a lot of time to get bigger and stronger and that really helped me.”

The Senators also added a defenceman to their prospect pool Saturday with the No. 49 pick.

Ben Rogers is a member of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, but didn’t play last season after the league cancelled its campaign due to the pandemic.

The six-foot-four, 200-pound blueliner admitted he was “definitely a little bit concerned” about how the lack of playing time would impact his selection in the draft.

“When you’re a kid that’s my age, you want to go as high as you can,“ said the native of Brighton, Ont. ”But I know I was putting in the work all off-season, or what should have been the season. I knew I was putting in the work on the ice and in the gym. So I knew wherever I went in the draft, I would work my hardest and prove myself.”

Roger said he added 35 pounds to his frame over the past year through twice-a-day workouts and “lots of good food” — especially chicken parmigiana.

Ottawa took right-winger Tyler Boucher with the 10th overall pick in the first round on Friday, and on Saturday added left-winger Oliver Johansson (No. 74) and right-winger Carson Latimer (No. 123). The Sens still hold the 202nd selection.

The Vancouver Canucks made their first selection of the weekend on day two, adding six-foot-two, 202-pound Belarusian right-winger Danila Klimovich to the fold with the No. 41 choice. The team’s chief amateur scout Ron Delorme announced the pick on behalf of residential school survivors.

Vancouver dealt its first-round selection to the Arizona Coyotes in a blockbuster trade on Friday. The Coyotes received the No. 9 pick, forwards Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel, and picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts. In exchange, the Canucks got right-winger Conor Garland and veteran defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The Canucks also took goalie Aku Koskenvuo (No. 137), defenceman Jonathan Myrenberg (No. 140) on Saturday. Vancouver still holds picks No. 169, 178 and 201.

William Stromgren was Calgary’s first pick on Saturday, going 45th overall.

The six-foot-three, 175-pound Swedish left-winger came into the draft the No. 14-ranked international skater.

“I’m an offensive player that likes to have the puck, likes to be creative, likes to score goals. Just an offensive guy,” he said.

Calgary used the No. 13 pick on American right-winger Matthew Coronato Friday. On Saturday, the Flames added centre Cole Huckins (No. 77), defenceman Cameron Whynot (No. 89) and defenceman Cole Jordan (No. 141). Calgary still has the 168th, 173rd and 205th selections.

The Winnipeg Jets picked five-foot-10, 170-pound right-winger Nikita Chibrikov with the 50th overall selection.

Chibrikov came into the draft the No. 4-ranked international skater and captained the Russian team that won silver at the U-18 world hockey championships this year.

“I have a good hockey IQ,” he said. “Also, I have a good skate and use this very much.”

Winnipeg picked up centre Chaz Lucius in the first round (No. 18), before selecting defenceman Dmitry Kuzmin (No. 82) and right-winger Dmitri Rashevsky (No. 146) on Saturday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs made their first selection of the draft midway through Saturday’s second round, taking left-winger Matthew Knies 57th overall.

The six-foot-two, 210-pound Phoenix native had 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists) in 44 games with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm last season.

The Leafs also chose American left-winger Ty Voit (No. 153). Toronto also holds the 185th pick.

Riley Kidney of the Quebec Junior Hockey League’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan joined the Canadiens prospect pool at the end of the second round, picked 63rd overall. The five-foot-11, 168-pound centre said being drafted was “a dream come true.

“It kind of feels surreal right now. My phone’s blowing up,” he said, silencing a call. “Words can’t describe how I feel right now.”

The Habs made a controversial decision Friday to select Logan Mailloux with the 31st overall pick. That came after the defenceman posted a statement on social media earlier this week asking teams not to draft him after news surfaced that he had been charged and paid a fine in Sweden for distributing a sexual photo without consent.

Montreal chose centre Oliver Kapanen (No. 64), then went with a trio of defencemen (Dmitri Kostenko 87th overall, William Trudeau 113th and Daniil Sobolev 142nd) before adding right-winger Joshua Roy (No. 150). The Canadiens will close out the draft with the 191st, 214th and 223rd selections.

The Oilers picked centre Xavier Bourgault with the 22nd overall pick on Friday. Edmonton had to wait to make another selection, but eventually chose defenceman Luca Munzenberger (No. 90) and centre Jake Chiasson (No. 116). The Oilers have three picks left, including No. 180, 186 and 212.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2021.

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