The 2021 NHL Entry Draft has *finally* come to a conclusion. For the second-straight year the annual festivity was held virtually, through various online streaming platforms and internet-based technology. Friday’s opening round lasted nearly four hours, before Day 2 ran for the majority of the day on Saturday.
The first round saw the Winnipeg Jets’ selection of Chaz Lucius 18th overall, before Winnipeg product and current member of the Winnipeg ICE – Carson Lambos – was selected 26th overall by the Minnesota Wild.
Lucius, one of the best ‘shooters’ in the draft actually fell to Winnipeg at 18, after many expected to see the talented forward within the Top-10. A year highlighted by a knee injury left the 18-year-old on the draft board longer than many thought, but the Jets scooped up the goal-scoring centreman with one swift motion.
“It’s close to home to me, so that’s a plus for sure,” Lucius said of being selected by the Jets. “I’d say it’s a really fun team to watch, fast-paced. There’s a really bright future for the Winnipeg Jets and I’m just happy to be a part of it at this point. I’m just looking forward to the future of the Winnipeg Jets. A lot of great players on the team already, I’m just hoping to add to that and contribute and hopefully one day win the Stanley Cup.”
Lambos, who went to Minnesota near the end of the day on Friday, also battled a significant injury for the majority of the 2020-21 season, which only saw the big defenceman suit up in two games for the ICE in the Regina Hub.
“It’s kind of something you dream of, and there’s still a lot of work left, but it felt good to earn that,” Lambos said post-selection.”When you hear you’re not going to be able to play the rest of the season, it’s pretty heartbreaking. I think going through something difficult like this made me a stronger person.”
On Saturday, Winnipeg selected Russian winger Nikita Chibrikov in the second round (50th overall), just before Brandon Wheat Kings’ defenceman Vinny Iorio was chosen by the Washington Capitals with pick No. 55. The Wheat Kings then saw forward Jake Chiasson selected by Edmonton at 116 overall, before Winnipeg ICE netminder Gage Alexander went 148th to the Anaheim Ducks later in the fifth round.
In the fourth round, the Dallas Stars rolled the dice on Conner Roulette, who has spent the past two seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds. The Winnipeg product and member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation spent three seasons putting on a show within the Winnipeg AAA scene prior to making the jump to the WHL.
In the fifth round, Cole Jordan of Brandon was selected by the Calgary Flames. He has spent the past two seasons playing defence in Moose Jaw for the Warriors alongside Daemon Hunt and Denton Mateychuk.
The Jets rounded out their four weekend selections on Saturday with defenceman Dmitri Kuzmin and winger Dmitri Rashevsky. The Wheat Kings saw Iorio and Chiasson selected, while the ICE enjoyed watching as Lambos and Alexander heard their names called. And two more Manitobans will now look to earn their places on NHL rosters in first rounder Carson Lambos and fourth round pick Conner Roulette. Next up is the NHL free agency period, which opens at 12:00 noon on Wednesday.