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Pelletier receives the ultimate birthday gift

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

PHILADELPHIA -- Julien Pelletier was already having one heck of a birthday weekend. He and his family were in town, enjoying Philadelphia and the NHL Draft. And then the Blue Jackets selected him in the fourth round.

That's one way to take your 18th birthday from 'great' to 'unforgettable.'

Pelletier, a skilled forward who opened some eyes during his first season with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was on something well above Cloud Nine shortly after hearing his name called at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was a day that he couldn't believe was happening, but he wasn't about to pinch himself.

"The best gift that I could ever ask for...the NHL Draft," Pelletier said. "I didn't really think that I could be drafted when I was young, but really, it's the best gift I (ever received)."

The Blue Jackets' amateur scouts in the Canadian maritime region saw a lot of Pelletier this season, which happened to be his first in the major junior ranks. A product of L'Intrepide program in Gatineau, Pelletier scored 25 goals and put up 50 points in 67 games and drew high praise for his ability to consistently make plays.

Once Pelletier sat down and interviewed with the Blue Jackets, it was clear that they were interested.

"I'm an offensive player and I can put the puck in the net," Pelletier said. "I can also pass the puck really well, I'm a fast skater with good skill and good vision.

"I didn't really have a feeling (if he would go to the Blue Jackets), but I did know that I had a great interview with them. I'm just really happy to go to Columbus."

Pelletier said his plan is to return to Cape Breton for at least two more seasons and continue to work toward his dream of playing in the NHL. He'll have the support of his family, friends, and the Gatineau region behind him just as he did in Philadelphia - where a group of 15-20 joined him to witness the big day.

The small Quebec town he was raised in, Thurso, is home to fewer than 2,500 people but one of them is hockey legend Guy LaFleur (who has a street named after him there).

"I'm from a small town. People are really happy for me," Pelletier said. "They're really proud of what I did this season and that's why they were here."

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