His name was called in the seventh and final round, 188th overall.
OILERS CUT TO THE CHASE
By Shane Jones, Sherwood Park News
Four former teammates on the Sherwood Park Midget AAA Kings saw their names go up on the board during the 2013 NHL Entry Draft — although it was a close call for a couple.
Defenceman Mason Geertsen, who was ranked 59th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft, was the top Park player taken when he was selected early in the fourth round by the Colorado Avalanche. Geertsen, who was selected 93rd overall, spent most of the season with the Vancouver Giants after being traded by the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Next up on the big board was defenceman Mitchell Wheaton, who was taken in the fifth round (139th) by the Detroit Red Wings. Wheaton, who played for Kelowna, was ranked 69th in North America heading into the draft.
It was a much longer wait for two other Park prospects.
It wasn’t until the seventh-and-final round that Park forward Greg Chase (ranked 153rd) was chosen 188th overall.
Chase admitted that the wait was agonizing, but was every bit worth it, especially as the team that selected him was his childhood favourite Edmonton Oilers.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” said the member of the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. “You don’t know what to expect. Any team can take you at any time. I certainly didn’t think it was going to be Edmonton. That was pretty cool. It’s an awesome franchise with great people in the organization. As a hockey player you grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL and getting drafted. It is a very cool experience and something to be proud of.”
Chase’s father Kyle, the governor of the Sherwood Park Crusaders and former co-host of the morning show on TEAM 1260 radio, was also feeling the pressure as the draft ticked on and his son’s name hadn’t been called.
“There were so many emotions,” he said. “It’s exciting, but it is a nervous day. It ended up being a happy day. It just hits you how all of those early morning practices and hockey schools, and the price he has paid to get where he is today... I am a very proud dad.”
Kyle was also thrilled that it was the hometown Oilers who believed his son was worth latching on to.
“It doesn’t get any better than seeing him get picked by his favourite team and his hometown team,” Kyle said. “It’s exciting for him to be a part of that organization. They are a team that is on a rebuild and hopefully gives him a chance, which is all you can ask for. Somebody said to me the other say that he now has a chip and a chair. He’s at the table and he’s in the poker game.”
Chase, who is known as a bit of a pest to play against, said he still has plenty to work on before he would be considered for an NHL spot.
“With the skill and talent that Edmonton has, not only on their team now, but in their system, I think I have to be a player who can play a second or third line role,” he said.
“One who is a little grittier and who adds some aggression to the lineup. I think that is exactly what this team needs and that’s what they have been saying. If I can bring that, it would be awesome. One player I try to model myself after is Brad Marchand. I think any team would love to have a player like that.”
Chase comes by his hockey and pest pedigree naturally as the nephew of Kelly Chase, who recorded 2,017 penalty minutes in 458 career NHL games.
As long as Chase had to wait, it was an even harder ordeal for the final member of the Kings quartet.
Defenceman Tyler Lewington, ranked 66th, slipped all the way to the eighth-to-last selection before being chosen 204th overall by the Washington Capitals.
“It was definitely a long day and a long process, but it was definitely exciting when my name finally got called,” said Lewington, who played for the Medicine Hat Tigers this season.
“When you go that late you start to get worried, but I tried to stay positive at that stage and hoped for the best. I was really excited when it happened. I watched it on TV with my family and it was an exciting time for all of us. It’s just an honour to be picked.”
Lewington was scheduled to leave this weekend to attend the Caps’ rookie camp.
Chase said it was great to see all four of the Kings players who were ranked high enough to be considered blue chip prospects get selected in the draft.
“It’s pretty cool to see those guys get picked, and it’s great to see so many go from the Park, period,” he said.
“I know everyone in Sherwood Park is very supportive and it is great to see the community recognized as a good growing ground for hockey players. Hopefully it motivates more Park players to try and continue how well it has gone in recent years at the draft here.”
The Edmonton Oil Kings billet their players in Sherwood Park with many of them attending high school at Salisbury and two members of the team who fell into that category were early selections.
Forward Curtis Lazar was chosen 17th overall by the Ottawa Senators, while goaltender Tristan Jarry was taken in the second round (44th overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins.