CALGARY, AB -- For Calgary’s draft eligible kids, it’s a matter of when -- not if -- they’ll hear their name called at the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia.
I’m pretty confident that I’ll be picked on the first day. That being said, it’s still just a number. I made it a goal of mine this year to be a first round pick. That’s where I deserve to be picked, I think. - Conner Bleackley
And that takes the pressure off ever so slightly, Swift Current Broncos defenceman Brycen Martin admits.
“I’m more anxious to see what happens than I am nervous,” said Martin, ranked 26th among North American skaters by Central Scouting. “I know I’m going to get drafted. I’ve been told that a number of times. I know it’s going to happen. I just don’t know where. It’s just a number.
“I’d rather be picked by a team that wants to develop me than just be the next highest number. Hopefully the team that picks me is willing to work with me and not just pick me at some number.”
Martin is one of five Calgary-area kids expected to be selected in the 2014 NHL Draft, joining the likes of Reid Duke of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Brayden Point of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Ben Thomas of the Calgary Hitmen and Conner Bleackley of the Red Deer Rebels.
Its Bleackley, Martin suggests, that will be sweating the experience the most.
Though ranked nine spots behind him, Martin thinks the 18-year-old Rebels captain is the likeliest of the lot to be called to the podium when the draft gets underway Friday.
“I got to go down and watch it (last year) and it’s long,” Martin said of the first round. “It’s three-and-a-half, four hours of sitting there. If you’re the 30th pick in the first round, you’re going to be angry about it. It’s long. But anything can happen. [Bleackley] is a good player and I wish him the best.
“(But) it’s not as stressful for the second and third round picks as it is for the first rounders who have to talk to 15 different journalists and go and do TSN interviews and all that stuff.
“It’s definitely not as bad for me.”
While he’ll admit the first round distinction is the goal, Bleackley -- a product of High River, AB -- is mature enough to realize it’s just a number at the end of the day.
“With where I’m at, I want to be a first rounder and I feel I deserve to be,” he said. “One of my biggest fears is waiting another day, just sitting there all day and not getting picked. I think that would be pretty disappointing in the beginning but at the end of the day, though, everyone who gets picked is still at the same spot as far as making the NHL.
“I’m pretty confident that I’ll be picked on the first day. That being said, it’s still just a number. I made it a goal of mine this year to be a first round pick. That’s where I deserve to be picked, I think.”
Rounds 2-7 are slated to get underway Saturday and will feature the likes of Martin, Duke, Point and Thomas.
The Hitmen blueliner, though, wont be on hand to hear his name called.
Instead, Thomas will take in his draft experience from the cozy confines of a cabin in Sylvan Lake, AB.
“I think I’m going to go to my friends cabin,” said Thomas, Central Scouting’s 86th ranked North American. “My family and their family is going to all be together and we’ll see what happens. We’ll have a little celebration that night and just relax pretty much. I don’t know if I’ll be around my phone too much. I will just take it easy and celebrate with my best friends and family.”
Getting away, Thomas admitted, will keep the nerves at bay.
“I’m not really that nervous,” he said. “I mean, whatever happens, happens. I just want to get drafted. I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m going to let it all happen. I have a little bit of an idea but not really too much of an idea of specifically where.
“Obviously you want to get drafted as high as you can, but just as long as I get drafted by a team that likes me and will give me a good opportunity, I’ll be very happy.”
After all, it is a matter of when -- not if -- Calgary’s continent gets called on draft day.