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Evans: 'I don't know where I'd be if I wasn't picked'

Jake Evans wasn't going to let being selected late in the 2014 NHL Draft keep him from achieving success

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

VANCOUVER - Jake Evans wasn't at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia when the Canadiens made him their sixth and final selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Instead, Evans elected to watch from home in Toronto to see where he was headed.

It was a long and agonizing wait for the young forward, who'd just begun his summer classes as an incoming freshman at the University of Notre Dame. 

In the end, the wait proved far too tough for Evans to handle.

He gave up on refreshing and headed out to grab a bite to eat before the Canadiens' brass ultimately secured his services in the seventh round at No. 207.

"I left because I thought the Draft was going to be over. I was a little angry. I think there were 10 picks left, so I was like, 'I'm out of here,'" revealed Evans, who was the fourth-to-last selection in the City of Brotherly Love. "I was hoping to go anywhere from the fifth to the seventh round, but I honestly thought I'd get picked. I didn't have the best year heading into it, but I thought I'd still get picked. Once you get to the last 10 picks, though, you're like, 'I've already seen guys go, so I'm probably not going.'"

When his mother, Marilyn, called to let him know that he was, in fact, a Habs draftee, his frustration quickly turned to incredible joy.

"It just flipped the switch. It was a complete 180," admitted Evans. "At first, I was thinking of the positives of not being drafted because I thought I wasn't. I was just thinking, 'If you do well enough, a few more team might want you.' Once I got picked, I kind of felt like I was a part of something and working towards something. It set goals for me to impress."

And that's all Evans has done in the half-decade since. From his stellar four-year collegiate career with the Fighting Irish to his standout rookie year with the AHL's Laval Rocket this past season, Evans has continued to trend in the right direction.

Being passed over time and again in Pennsylvania only fueled his fire to succeed.

"I think it absolutely helped me. I don't know where I'd be if I wasn't picked, honestly. I think I'd still be pushing hard, but being picked by Montreal, especially by such a storied franchise, it pushes you to want to be a part of it. I think it set that goal to eventually sign with Montreal and keep going," explained Evans. "It was also about proving people wrong, because most seventh-round picks don't make the NHL. That's kind of been my mindset. There wasn't much pressure on me at Notre Dame. I just wanted to work hard, enjoy it and try to keep taking those next steps."

Evans is quick to point out that this wasn't the first time he was a late-round selection, so this only upped his motivation to new heights.

"I even remember the OHL Draft, too. I was hoping I'd go earlier and I went like eighth round to Kitchener. I was already committed to Notre Dame at the time. I knew I wasn't going or anything, but you still want to get picked high," mentioned Evans. "But, it's what you do afterwards. That's what I've learned and what I've seen. It's all about how hard you work afterwards that matters."

Video: Jake Evans on his rookie season in the AHL

That's a lesson Evans can wholeheartedly say he learned from experience, and he's hoping that mindset will continue paying dividends as his career rolls on.

"I'd say a lot has changed since the Draft," shared Evans. "I've been on a pretty good size journey and been through a lot. I had to battle through a lot, but I've had a lot of fun along the way."

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