Brampton - The Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection was a learning experience that prepared Cameron Wind for the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft this weekend.
A third-round choice of the Brampton Battalion in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection, Wind had figured he’d go much higher. He said he has no such expectations heading into the NHL Entry Draft at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The first of seven rounds is to be conducted Friday night, with the rest on Saturday.
“I definitely expected to go higher two years ago, so it helped me heading into this weekend’s draft,” Wind said Wednesday via telephone from his Barrie home. “I don’t have my hopes up too high. I just want to enjoy the experience. I’ll be a little more nervous with this one than I was when I was chosen by the Battalion. I just hope things go well.”
Wind is one of three Battalion players, all 18, in the NHL central scouting department’s rankings for North American-based skaters. Centre Sam Carrick is rated 90th, right winger Philip Lane 96th and Wind 103rd.
Wind said he has spoken to a number of NHL clubs.
“I’ve talked to teams like the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks. I really don’t know which teams are interested, but when I talked to Vancouver I was impressed with how much they knew about me. I’m hoping someone has their eye on me. I’m hoping I get a chance to go to a good organization.”
Wind, six-foot-one and 200 pounds, scored three goals and added eight assists for 11 points in 66 games in 2009-10 before contributing two assists in 11 playoff games. He had earned two assists in 28 games as a rookie.
“I had a great start to the season, but I took a step back in December. I tried to get everything back and finish strong in the playoffs. It was an up-and-down season, and I’m pretty happy with it.”
A four-game suspension imposed on defenceman Matt Clark during an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Kingston Frontenacs gave Wind the opportunity to play on the power play.
“With Clark out I got some power-play time, and the teams I talked to were impressed with how I handled that. It was bad he was out, but it gave me a chance. Teams I met with thought my defensive play was good and thought I did well in the playoffs. This whole season was an opportunity for me. I didn’t play much in my first season, but the coaches gave me lots of ice time this season, and I was thankful for that.”
Wind said he’ll follow the proceedings at home and then, he hopes, head out to celebrate. Carrick will join Lane in Los Angeles.
“We’re leaving Thursday, and we’ve decided to make a family trip out of it,” Carrick said via telephone. “We’ll stay out there a few days after it’s over.”
Carrick said he’s had conversations with NHL clubs in recent weeks.
“I’ve talked to the Islanders, the Calgary Flames and twice with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I’m going into this with no expectations and I’ll hope for the best. If I get drafted, that’s great. If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. You can always get an invite to a camp with a team.”
The Battalion’s first-rounder in 2008, Carrick had 21 goals and 21 assists for 42 points in 66 games in 2009-10. He contributed two goals and two assists for four points in eight playoff games before suffering a broken left collarbone in the opener of a conference semifinal against the Barrie Colts.
“I don’t have any problems with the collarbone now. It’s as strong as my right one. It’s come along well.”
The Battalion leads OHL clubs with 33 selections in NHL Entry Drafts since 1999, the first year its players were eligible. Six of those players have gone in the first round, including centre Matt Duchene, taken third overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2009. Clark was a second-round choice of the Anaheim Ducks last year.