Throughout the year, tampabaylightning.com will periodically talk to Lightning players or coaches to get their first-hand account of a critical moment from the season or just what's on their mind currently.
In this installment, we hear from Nolan Foote, who was selected by the Lightning in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, joining his older brother Cal, a 2017 first round pick of the Bolts, in the organization. Nolan Foote comes to the Lightning from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, where he recorded nearly a point a game during the 2018-19 season with 36 goals and 63 points in 66 regular season games. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound power forward is an attractive prospect for the Lightning, Tampa Bay assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting Al Murray saying Foote has a NHL shot right now in an interview after the prospect's selection. "It's a quick release. It's a hard shot," Murray said from the Rogers Arena draft floor. "He's a big body who plays with an edge. He's a good skater, and we think he's got room to improve."
As told to tampabaylightning.com beat writer Bryan Burns, Foote discusses what it was like watching his older brother get drafted two years earlier, how that helped him prepare for his own name being called and when he knew he would be joining his brother as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Two years before I was drafted, I was able to go to the United Center in Chicago to watch my brother Cal get drafted. Being there with him was one of the highlights of my life. First off, I was really happy and proud of him to get selected that high and go to Tampa Bay. It was just so great for our family and for him. My brother and I are really close, so it was just, our bond became even closer. For me to go two years later to the same organization, it was shocking. It doesn't happen that often. It's really cool, and we're cherishing every moment of it. I can't wait to play with him.
Video: Nolan Foote celebrates with Family
I had an idea what the draft would be like from watching my brother go through the process. You see how long each pick takes. You don't know if there's a trade about to happen. You see teams talking and GMs on the phone. You don't know what's going to happen. I definitely took notes during his draft and remember looking around and trying to just scope everything out and see what's going on and what the process is like. I was sitting next to my mom and Cal during his draft, and when it was getting around pick 10, he started to get real nervous because that was right around his range. We didn't know who was going to take him. Vegas had a few picks right in there, and we thought they might be an option. It was definitely nerve-racking, more so for him obviously but me too just watching him go through it. I learned a lot. I watched how Cal handled himself. He's mature and he's humble. I've learned a lot from him in that way. How he handles himself is just very professional, and part of that is how we were raised by our parents and our upbringing. We're both very thankful for that.
When it came time for me to go to Vancouver and go through the draft process myself, I was definitely nervous. At the same time, you're just so happy you're at the NHL Draft. For me, my range was around pick 20 to 40, kind of a wide range, so it was tough to know exactly when I would be taken. I could have gone in the first round or maybe have to come back the next day and wait until the second round. When it got to around pick 20 and a few teams that I knew had interest in me and I had great conversations with at the combine were picking, I started to get even more nervous. You don't want to come back the next day. I believed I was a first rounder, and I wanted to be picked that first night. You want to go enjoy the night with your family after that first night and not have to worry about coming back the next day still wondering where you're going to be taken. I definitely didn't want to come back and happy I didn't.
I would have been fine wherever I went, but being picked by Tampa Bay was awesome. I knew they had interest and talked to my agent in the morning. I had no idea they were going to pick me, but watching from the draft room, they were standing before Calgary [selecting one spot ahead of Tampa Bay at No. 26] even had their pick in. I know a few scouts and coaches on the draft floor that looked up at my family and kind of gave me a hint that this could be it. Like, I know (Dallas Stars head coach) Jim Montgomery pretty well and Jeff Finley, a scout for Detroit. I saw them look up towards us. I was right next to Cal, so he was just kind of telling me, 'This is it. You're going. This is it. Get ready.' It was crazy.
When Al Murray announced my name and I realized I was going to Tampa Bay, the same organization where Cal was drafted two years earlier, we both just said, 'No way. This is not happening.' We played junior together and now one day we might have the chance to play together in the National Hockey League. It's an unbelievable feeling. I was real shaky and happy and definitely emotional. So many different feelings I was experiencing all at once. It's something I'll never forget for the rest of my life.
Video: Mic'd Up | Nolan Foote
After I went up on stage and met everybody with the Lightning, I did an interview with SportsNet at the bottom of the stage and had another radio interview right after that. Then you go backstage and do a few photo shoots, a few signings, a couple more interviews, more media and then you get to go back and be with your family. I knew what to expect. Cal filled me in on everything you have to do once you get drafted. I'm fine with during media. I rather enjoy it. I've always been kind of comfortable on a microphone or in front of a camera. I'm sure watching my dad and my brother doing interviews through the years has helped in that regard. And I've done a lot of interviews before too, so I just kind of expect it now.
I had quite a bit of family at the draft, I think around 40 family members, friends and family. We went out and had a late dinner after the draft at a place called the Blue Water Café to celebrate. It was really good food, a really good menu. Just had dinner and had a good time and took some time to reflect on everything that had just happened and enjoy being with so many people who helped me get to that point in my life. I remember sitting back in my seat and it was just like, 'Wow, I can't believe it.' I still can't believe it. Still hasn't settled in. It's crazy. But I'm absolutely ready for this journey. And I'm so happy I'll have my brother right there with me. I can't wait.