PITTSBURGH, PA - Ryan Culkin couldn’t tell you the last time the Calgary Flames selected a player at the NHL Draft from the Quebec Major Junior League.
He’s just thrilled he’s the latest.
The Flames made Culkin their first pick from the QMJHL since Hugo Carpentier in 2006, selecting the Quebec Remparts defenseman in the fifth round, 124th overall.
“I heard it was 2008?” questioned Culkin. “I’m honored. It’s an honor to just be here right now and to be a Calgary Flame. It’s incredible. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
It was a longer wait then the six-foot-one, 186 pound defenseman would’ve liked, but everything worked out in his favor.
“You’re jealous, then Calgary - great organization, I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I’ve got nothing but great positive feedback. They have (Alex) Tanguay. He came and skated with us a few times this year with Quebec.”
Little did he know it, but Culkin’s journey to Calgary started at the NHL Combine almost two months ago.
They never gave Culkin a hint they’d be taking him, but he couldn’t be more thrilled.
“I spoke with Calgary at the Combine,” Culkin said. “They never gave me any hints but Calgary is one of my favorite teams. It’s good to be on a Canadian team and I’m so happy.”
And ready to contribute.
“I can’t wait to start,” Culkin said.
Culkin is hoping to add in as many ways as possible, but the coachable player just wants to help in any way he’s asked.
“Any position the coach wants to put me in I can fill that no problem,” he said. “I can be an offensive defenseman. I’ve always learned from my coaches like Patrick Roy – defense wins championships. Though I like to be considered an offensive defenseman, I consider myself more of a defensive defenseman.”
More than anything, Culkin wants to be considered a Calgary Flame for a long time.