Six of the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2014 NHL Draft picks were in Philadelphia to hear their name called on the last weekend in June.
Lucas Wallmark, who was one of the youngest-eligible draft prospects in 2013, was the one exception. He was with his parents at their summer home in Sweden.
“I had bad Internet there, so I couldn’t follow along,” he recalled.
It would have been early evening in Sweden at the time when the Hurricanes made back-to-back picks in the fourth round, calling Wallmark’s name 97th overall.
Wallmark’s phone buzzed. It was a friend.
“He was following the Draft, and he texted me [when I was picked],” Wallmark, 18, said. “That was really fun.”
And that’s how he found out he was drafted, away from the pomp and circumstance present in Philadelphia.
“Being with my parents, it was pretty exciting,” he said.
Shortly after, he spoke with fellow Swedes Elias Lindholm and Erik Karlsson.
“Elias called me after I was drafted, so I talked with him,” he said. “We are good friends, so he just welcomed me.”
Just over three weeks later, Wallmark joined the rest of the Canes’ 2014 draft class and other 20-some prospects in Raleigh for the team’s development camp. While it’s not his first time in North America, it is his first time coming to North Carolina.
“It’s pretty fun to be here and see how it works,” Wallmark, a 6-foot, 176-pound forward, said. “I’m training with a lot of good guys here, so it’s fun.”
Though he’s the lone European in a room full of North American-born players, Wallmark said it hasn’t been a challenge to become acclimated.
“I’m really bad at English,” he sheepishly said in English that was actually not bad at all. “It’s fun to be here.”
And, once on the ice, every player speaks the universal language of hockey.
“Exactly. It’s cool to be here,” he said.
Born on Sept. 5, 1995, 10 days before the cutoff for 2013 NHL Draft eligibility, Wallmark was passed over in New Jersey, despite being ranked 16th among all European skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. He entered this year’s draft as the 20th-ranked European skater by the CSS.
“Lucas is a player we liked a lot last year, and he went through the Draft last year as a ‘95,” Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald said in Philadelphia. “He’s got good hockey sense, he’s a good skater and he’s got good skill. We feel he can continue to grow and develop in Sweden, probably.”
Following development camp, Wallmark will join the Swedish national team in Montreal. Last year, he was teammates with Lindholm on the Swede’s world junior team, as they captured the silver medal in their home country. Wallmark ranked third on the team in scoring, as he posted eight points (3g, 5a) in seven tournament games.
In 2013-14, Wallmark skated in 41 games for Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League, recording three goals and seven assists, and he will return to the SHL for the 2014-15 season.