Many sons take after their fathers.
That’s especially true in this year’s NHL Draft as bloodlines run deep in this class. If a last name sounds familiar, he probably had a dad that played in the NHL. For Buffalo Sabres fans, there a few names in this year’s prospect pool that will ring a bell.
Daniel Audette was born in Buffalo while his dad Donald played for the Sabres. At 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, Audette is about as big as his father was when he played although he thinks they play a different style.
He’s ranked 75th among North American skaters by Central Scouting. He recorded 76 points in 68 games – including 55 assists – with Sherbrook of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.
“Obviously he wasn’t the biggest guy and obviously back then, size was really important. It still is today, but less,” Audette said. “He was motivated and he worked harder than anyone else. That’s why he had a long career.”
Donald is now an amateur scout for the Montreal Canadiens so he’s familiar with what draft-eligible players are going currently through. Audette has been able to use his father’s advice to help him through the pre-draft process even if there are some big differences between what it’s like now and how it was 25 years ago.
On his draft day, Donald had to wait a long time before his name was called. He was eventually selected by the Sabres in the ninth round of the 1989 NHL Draft (183rd overall) and as his son recalls the story, Donald had a tough time being patient.
“He was getting mad. He was throwing chairs in the back of the rink,” Audette said. “He really wanted to get drafted.”
The first round of the 2014 NHL Draft will be held on June 27 at 7 p.m.at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Rounds 2-7 will be held on June 28.
The Sabres hold the second-overall pick in this year’s draft. The last time they held a pick in the Top 2, they took center Pierre Turgeon first overall. That was back in 1987.
That’s my middle name nowadays: ‘Sami’s Son.’ - Kasperi Kapanen
Although Pierre’s son Dominic doesn’t expect to be drafted that high, he’s enjoying this experience all while leaning on his father for advice.
Turgeon, a center, is Central Scouting’s 97th-best North American prospect. Like so many of the sons of former players in this draft class, Turgeon grew up around the rink and the hockey lifestyle.
“I felt like I was kind of born into hockey with my dad at a very young age. I was always with him, always wanted to be around,” Turgeon said. “At a very young age, I promised myself that that’s what I want to do with my life. I have a passion for the sport and that one day, I would get here.”
Another skater likely to get drafted with Sabres ties is defenseman Luc Snuggerud. He credits both his father and uncle – former Sabre Dave Snuggerud – for helping him get to this point in his career.
Near the top of the draft board, Sam Reinhart, the third-best skater among players that played in North America last season according to Central Scouting. Reinhart’s father, Paul, played 438 games over the course of eight seasons, totaling 100 goals and 398 points for the Flames and Canucks.
Reinhart’s brothers Max and Griffin are also NHL-caliber talents. Max, 21, has played 19 games for Calgary over the past two seasons and Griffin, 20, was a first-round pick (fourth overall) of the Islanders in 2012.
“I think I got a lot from [my father] as well as my two brothers. I feel we’re all relaxed guys and I think that transfers throughout a lineup,” Reinhart said. “So if it is an intense situation in a game and guys see that nothing’s really getting to you – you’re still pretty composed and relaxed on the bench – that really transfers through to the rest of the lineup.”
Kasperi Kapanen played in Finland last year but he’s very familiar with North America and the NHL game because of his father, Sami, a veteran of 831 games with the Whalers, Hurricanes and Flyers.
“He’s my dad and my teacher and my mentor and my trainer at the same time,” Kapanen said. “He helps me a lot. He’s been the biggest influence in my hockey career so far. He’s a good dad right now.”
Kapanen’s been asked a lot of questions over the years about his dad, but the frequency of them has understandably increased as the draft approaches. The two are currently training in Philadelphia. Kapanen is ranked as Central Scouting’s top European skater and could very well be a Top 10-pick.
“That’s my middle name nowadays: ‘Sami’s Son.’ So I get used to it,” he joked. “Of course they won’t forget Sami, but it’s my turn now.”
He even had the chance to play on a line with his father in games in Finland. At first, he said yelling, “Dad!” on the ice caused a little bit of confusion.
“It was a big thing for me, probably a bigger thing for him – just kind of dreaming about that chance to play with his son,” Kapanen said. “Now that I think about it, it was amazing. At first it really didn’t hit me.”
Other prospects with famous hockey dads include Ryan MacInnis (the son of Flames and Blues great Al MacInnis), Brendan Lemieux (who says he wants to play a pesky style like his father Claude), Josh Wesley (a defenseman like his dad Glen), William Nylander (son of 920-game vet Michael) and Ryan Donato (whose father Ted played 796 games in the NHL).
Heinz Ehlers, the father of Nikolaj Ehlers (No. 13 in North America by Central Scouting), was drafted in the ninth round of the 1984 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers but elected to spend his 16-season career overseas.
Will the Sabres select a prospect with NHL blood already in his veins? We’ll find out in a few short weeks.