Former Rangers assistant coach and current Northern Michigan University (CCHA) head coach Walt Kyle knew that the Blueshirts and various other teams were very interested in NMU center Darin Olver leading up to the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Thus, his decision to head down to Raleigh, North Carolina for the weekend. Kyle's trip was certainly not wasted. Nor was Olver's for that matter, as the Rangers selected the 6-0, 165-pound Burnaby, British Columbia native with their first pick in the second round (36th overall).
A self-described 'speedy, playmaking battler,' Olver tallied 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points, along with 24 penalty minutes in 39 games to lead the Wildcats (21-16-4) in scoring as a freshman in 2003-04.
"I feel just blessed that the New York Rangers selected me," said a thrilled Olver. "Every kid dreams of playing in the NHL and I know I have a lot of work to do to make it, but I'm just going to enjoy this moment right now. This has been a real goal of mine for some time."
As his coach, Kyle was just glad to be a part of this special day for his player.
"To me, he's a prototypical playmaking center with exceptional puck skills, vision and creativity," Kyle, a 1981 alumnus of Northern Michigan, noted. "Darin thrives on distributing the puck and making good plays. He's a real student of the game and is a very coachable player who will always learn and grow regardless of what level of hockey he is playing."
"I was foryunate to work with Glen (Sather) and the Rangers, a team with such great tradition. I told Darin that New York is the greatest city in the league to play in with the best fans. But, I also told him that alongside playing in New York comes a tremendous amount of expectation for success. He has to understand that. He also has to work hard in order to experience this first-hand, but in my opinion, he'll play for the Rangers and make an impact in the NHL."