COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Kyle Turris didn't know what to say when Wayne Gretzky told him he had been drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes with the third overall pick in the NHL draft Friday.
"Having Wayne Gretzky call my name, I couldn't believe it," said Turris. "It was so exciting and such a thrill."
The Coyotes have had their eye on Turris, a six-foot-one, 175-pound centre from New Westminster, B.C. Scouting reports listed the him as the top North American skater available in the draft.
"We are elated," said Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, who conducted his first draft with the team. "He is a solid building block in the foundation of this franchise and we look forward to a great future for Kyle with the Coyotes."
Turris could be a good fit for a team that has lacked offensive firepower in recent years.
With his speed and puck-handling skills, Turris has drawn comparisons to Colorado star Joe Sakic. The 17-year-old played in 53 games with Burnaby in the British Columbia Hockey League last season, earning MVP honours by scoring 66 goals with 55 assists for 121 points. He had 83 penalty minutes.
In 14 playoff games, Turris had 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points.
"I like to use my vision to create scoring opportunities," Turris said. "I think that's one of the strong parts of my game. I like to be a leader on the ice."
Turris said he hopes to put on another 10 to 15 pounds.
"I know I've got to get stronger, and I'm going to work on that," he said.
Turris had heard reports that the Coyotes were targeting him, but when he awoke Friday morning he didn't know where he might be drafted.
"I had no idea," said Turris, who attended the draft with his parents Bruce and Vikky. "It was all pretty open. It was really nerve-racking."
Turris, who is expected to attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall, said he plans to work out at the Coyotes' prospect camp this summer in Glendale.
If all goes well, it won't be long until he's playing there every night.
"I'm hoping as soon as possible," Turris said. "My dream is to play in the NHL, and I hope it happens fast."