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Mooseheads find future homes at NHL Draft

2018-06-23

No Canadian Hockey League team had more players selected in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft than the Halifax Mooseheads and the four players taken added to the ever-growing lore of the franchise and its success developing players for the highest level of hockey.

Filip Zadina was first off the board for the Mooseheads contingent when the Detroit Red Wings made him the sixth overall selection on Friday night. Defenceman Jared McIsaac joined Zadina in donning the classic Red Wings jersey as he was nabbed early in the second round, 36th overall, by the original six franchise. Forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx was also a second round pick, going 54th overall to the Anaheim Ducks while goalie Alex Gravel joined GM Cam Russell’s former team, the Chicago Blackhawks when his name was called in the sixth round, 162nd overall.

That brings the total to 19 players drafted from the Mooseheads by NHL teams this decade and six have gone in the top ten in the last six years.

“It’s awesome.” That was the response from a smiling Filip Zadina on Saturday when talking about Halifax teammate Jared McIsaac joining him in the Motor City.

Zadina, the QMJHL’s award winner for Top Professional Prospect, joined Nico Hischier, Timo Meier, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon as Mooseheads players to be selected in the top 10 of the NHL Draft since 2013.

“To see him go (I was) very happy for him and then to get drafted by the same team it’s pretty special,” McIsaac said during a press conference.

The Truro, NS native was highly sought after in the second round of the draft after an unpredictable opening round left many highly ranked prospects available on Saturday. No Nova Scotian born defenceman has been drafted higher since Al MacInnis and Paul Boutilier were taken in the first round in 1981. He led all Halifax defencemen in scoring with a career high 47 points as a 17-year-old in 2017-18. McIsaac had several friends and family with him in Dallas for the weekend and said it was really a dream come true to share that moment them but especially with his father Jamie, mother Sandra and younger sister Jordan.

“Just the family aspect of this, as much as it’s for me it’s for my family too and I’m very proud.”

The Anaheim Ducks scooped up Groulx with the 54th pick as he becomes the second player on Halifax’s roster to join the prospect pool in Anaheim. Recently acquired Antoine Morand was also a second round pick of the Ducks last year, going 60th overall in 2017. Morand said he quickly got in touch with Groulx on Saturday after he saw the news.

“I talked with BO not long after he was picked and told him congratulations and that he really landed in a great organization that takes care of their players.”

Morand had nothing but excellent things to say about the Ducks franchise.

“Their player development program is one of the best in the NHL and Anaheim is such a beautiful place. He should be pumped to be a Duck.”

Since GM Cam Russell called his name first overall at the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft, Groulx has steadily developed into one of the premier players in the league and set career highs in goals with 28, assists with 27 and points with 55 in his second season in Halifax.

“It was an awesome moment. I’ve been waiting for that day pretty much my whole life,” Groulx said.

His game has been compared to Jonathan Toews in that he is equally effective away from the puck and does many things to help his team win that will never show up on a stats sheet. The man known as Bo had a hard time wiping the smile off of his face after pulling on the Ducks jersey and said he was able to hold off the tears.

“When they called my name it was a mix of emotions. I was with my family in the stands and they were all crying so I contained myself but I was pretty close actually.”

The day was complete when the Chicago Blackhawks called out Alex Gravel’s name in the sixth round as the Mooseheads goalie joined the original six team. Gravel came to the Herd as a second round pick in the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft and was thrust into the spotlight almost immediately as he logged more than 2,600 minutes as a 16-year-old. That’s second to only Zach Fucale in franchise history for a goalie at that age. He is already ninth in team history in total minutes through two seasons and is looking to have a big year in 2018-19 with the Mooseheads preparing to host the Memorial Cup. He said he’s excited to head to ‘Hawks training camp and meet one of his idols, Corey Crawford.

“I’ve followed him since I was really young. I’ve been a Blackhawks fan when I was younger and I have a Blackhawks jersey at home.”

The 2018 NHL Entry Draft proved to be an exciting one for the Mooseheads and these four players are going to play a very large role in what will be one of the most exciting ever for the fans in Moose Country.

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Mooseheads 2018-19 Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now at TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square or by calling 451-1221.

New 15 Game Packs will go on sale in September. The on-sale date for Individual Tickets will be released later this summer.

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