PITTSBURGH -- Not many 18-year-olds from California have seen a Stanley Cup Final game at both Honda Center and Staples Center.
Nicholas Kerdiles, Anaheim Ducks (Getty Images)
Not only is Nicolas Kerdiles on that short list, he might have a chance to play in one someday. Kerdiles, who grew up in Irvine, Calif., was a second-round pick Saturday by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2012 NHL Draft.
"I actually went to one of the  Stanley Cup Final games with one of my buddies, Nik Olsson. He took me there and it was a lot of fun. It was a great atmosphere," said Kerdiles, who also attended Games 3 and 6 of the 2012 Final in Los Angeles with another draft prospect and friend Miles Koules (former Tampa Bay Lightning owner Oren Koules' son). "Now that the Kings have won too, I think there is more of a rivalry between the Ducks and the Kings."
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, Kerdiles was born in Lewisville, Texas, but moved to France when he was little. His parents moved to Southern California when he was 6 years old, but he still has lots of family back in Europe.
"It is where all my family is from and we go back every summer I can," Kerdiles said. "We have a beach house there, so that puts my head on my shoulders when I get to go back and see all my family in France. They're all probably sending me emails right now."
Kerdiles started playing road hockey because of a neighbor and transitioned to the ice when he was 8. After playing for the Los Angeles Selects youth program, he has spent the past two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
He has committed to play for Wisconsin next season and is already taking summer courses there. He actually came from Madison, Wis., to the draft.
He knows he has some work to do before he can compete for a spot in the Ducks' lineup.
WEAR WHAT THE DRAFTEES WEAR
"I think I just need to get bigger and stronger. That's the No. 1 thing," Kerdiles said. "I have a good frame and now I just need to fill out some more. I need to work on my hands and my skill work, and with [Wisconsin coach] Mike Eaves I'll get all that and hopefully be in the NHL soon.
"I think I'm a two-way power forward with above-average speed and skill. I like to play in the gritty areas on the ice, and most of my goals are scored in front of the net. That's how I score my goals."
Kerdiles joins the growing number of California kids who have been drafted by NHL teams. Another of Anaheim's top prospects is Emerson Etem, who grew up in Long Beach, Calif. The Ducks took Etem in the first round in 2010.
"He's always been a good role model for me," Kerdiles said. "I saw him before he came out here and he said, ‘Good luck.' He's a great guy. I look forward to going to camp with him and hopefully seeing him soon. It is pretty special for two California guys to be drafted by hometown teams."