Being selected in the NHL Draft is a dream come true for any young player, but for Mason Primeau it was more like a rite of passage.
His dad, Wayne Primeau, had a 15-year NHL career where he played for Buffalo, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Calgary, Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto. Keith Primeau, his uncle, also had a career that spanned 15 years playing for Detroit, Philadelphia and Carolina. In 2017, goalie Cayden Primeau, Mason's cousin and Keith's son, was selected in the seventh round (199th overall) by the Montreal Canadiens and later won the Mike Richter Award as the top goalie in NCAA hockey at Northeastern.
Needless to say, his family was more than thrilled when the Golden Knights called his name in the fifth round (141st overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft.
"I was just sitting on the couch with my family at home. I kind of thought they mouthed my name, but I wasn't too sure, and sure enough my named popped up on the screen," said Primeau. "Lots of screams and tears and hugs and just a lot of excitement."
The 17-year-old Owen Sound, Ontario native boarded a plane headed to Vegas the next day to attend his first development camp with the Golden Knights. But before he left the tarmac, Mason's dad reminded him to be himself, work hard and lead by example.
"Just do things the right way," said Primeau.
And when Primeau is looking for an example to follow, he can turn to 2017 draft pick Nic Hague. At 6'5" and 203 lbs., it's easy to draw comparisons between Primeau and Hague, who at 20-years-old is 6'6" and 214 lbs. himself.
"The goal is to continue to fill out and get stronger. I think it'll only add to my game as I progress," said Primeau. "He's a defenseman and I'm a forward, but you can still take things from his game and his size and use it as inspiration."
In his OHL rookie season with the Guelph Storm in 2017-18, he collected 13 points (7 G, 6 A) over the course of 60 games. He had racked up a total of seven points (3 G, 4 A) in 20 games during the 2018-19 season before being traded to the North Bay Battalion where he saw a notable improvement in his stats. He notched 26 points (10G, 16A) in 49 games for North Bay in the latter part of the season.
The Golden Knights development camp offered him another growth opportunity.
"I think being a first-year guy coming to camp you're a little nervous, but the staff do a really good job of making it comfortable," said Primeau. "I'm just going to try to be a sponge and absorb everything they tell me. This is a great learning experience and I'm hoping I can take as much as possible from this week."