VANCOUVER -- Even after a good night's sleep, Brayden Tracey is still trying to process the emotions he felt when he heard his name called by the Ducks at Rogers Arena yesterday. They selected him with the 29th overall pick, capping off a night that saw the club take Trevor Zegras earlier in the first round.
Tracey had a feeling he'd hear his name called in the first round, but by what team remained uncertain. An interview with the Ducks leading up to the draft, though, had him wondering if they'd be the ones who would make his dreams come true.
"I had a gut feeling, but I knew there were a few teams picking before them," Tracy says, proudly wearing his Ducks jersey on Day 2 of the 2019 NHL Draft. "Being picked by the Ducks is an unbelievable feeling. Very honored and excited to get things going."
Standing next to him in a quiet hallway outside the Ducks' suite inside the arena is his father, Peter, who is beaming with pride. Hearing his son's name called meant "everything" to Peter and his family. "All the hard work paid off," he says. "Everything he's been through. The U-18 team, the U-17 teams. He's working hard. I was very proud. Very proud dad. He had a good season. It worked out for him."
Brayden's impressive rookie season with the Moose Jaw Warriors skyrocketed him from being the 73rd-ranked North American skater in Central Scouting's midterm rankings to 21st in its final list.
He was awarded the Jim Piggott Trophy as WHL Rookie of the Year last season after leading all first-year skaters in goals (36), assists (45) and points (81). Tracey's 81 points were 19 more than the next closest WHL rookie.
Brayden, a Calgary native, says he didn't start to feel the nerves until the back-half of the first round. "When it got to about No. 22, I was getting a little nervous," he says with a smile. "Started sweating a little bit. I'm honored to be picked by the Ducks."
Peter says he wasn't feeling anxious as the picks came and went, as it's all part of the process. "I was just being patient," he says. "It didn't matter where he went, whether it was the first round, second round or third round. It's all the work he needs to put in after to get where he's going to get. It's like starting over."
Peter admits he was a bit star struck when he walked into the Ducks suite earlier today to meet the Zegras family and the rest of the organization's staff. "It's overwhelming, especially walking into the suit and seeing Scott Niedermayer," he says with a laugh. "It's been good though. It's been fun. Very exciting time for our family."
When Brayden makes his way to Anaheim next week, it'll mark his first visit to California. The Ducks offered advice almost immediately. "One of the first things I was told was to leave my jacket at home," he says. "That's going to be something I'll have to get used to. Being in Moose Jaw and Calgary, it's pretty cold in the winter. Very excited. Great organization."
"A dream come true since you're a kid," Brayden adds. "Watching the draft all my life, and watching the NHL. It's something you can't describe."