PITTSBURGH – Times sure have changed since Kris Draper and Chris Osgood sat nervously with their families in an NHL arena waiting for their names to be called.
“It was nerve-wracking, the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Osgood recalled as he spoke to reporters about his 1991 draft experience at the Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium.
Both Osgood and Draper were underage players back then, meaning that they had to be selected by the end of the third round or go back into the draft the following summer.
While Osgood had a pretty good idea that the Wings would select him with their third-round pick, Draper thought his shot had passed. But that was before the Winnipeg Jets made him the No. 62 overall pick in 1989, which was the second from last selection in the round.
“I was just nervous, I knew it was an uncomfortable feeling for everybody,” said Draper, who sat with his mom, dad and brother at the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minn. “You go there and you talk to some teams, so people say, ‘If you’re available in the second round that’s kind of where we have you,’ and those teams that you talked to don’t take you because obviously things change. People don’t get selected, people pass on some guys and it’s different. So you wait, and wait, and it’s nerve-wracking.
“But now you realize that it’s such a huge deal now and the one thing that you realize is that you get drafted but that doesn’t guarantee anything. There’s still a lot of hard work to do to get going.”
Draper, who is a special assistant to general manager Ken Holland, and Osgood, who is the team goalie develop coach, are in Pittsburgh this weekend to participate in the franchise’s draft process. They joined the front office staff and amateur scouts on the floor of the Consol Energy Center where the Wings will make their picks. Barring a Friday night trade, Detroit has six picks, beginning in the second round on Saturday morning.
The Wings traded away their first-round pick to Tampa Bay in a late-season move that brought defenseman Kyle Quincey back to the organization.
While the players have fond memories of their draft experiences, they can relate to the current group of young men who are more than likely dealing with the same emotional rollercoaster that they did. But that’s where Osgood hopes to provide a few encouraging words to whomever the Wings select this weekend.
“If we draft a goalie I’ll probably talk to him,” Osgood said. “I know most of the guys anyways that we’re drafting, so I’ll just talk to him and make him feel comfortable.”
The nerves maybe the same from year to year for the draftees, but the pageantry sure has changed over the years, Draper said.
“They’ve definitely glitzed it up for sure with the way everything is, and it wasn’t this way back when I got drafted in 1989,” he said. “Just for a young kid who has dreamed that he would one day play in the National Hockey League and you’re sitting there and hear your name called it’s a real special feeling and it’s the opportunity to start the process.”
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