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Giants predictions of early Ostapchuk interest prove correct as Ottawa takes him early in second round

Blazers winger Stankoven to Stars goes later than expected in second round, says “I’m going to do my best to prove those teams that passed on me that they were wrong."

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Zack Ostapchuk learned second hand that he was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the NHL Draft Saturday, albeit only seconds late.

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The Vancouver Giants forward, who is from St. Albert, Alta., had 15 folks over to watch the proceedings on television. One group was upstairs, Ostapchuk was a part of the crew that went downstairs.

The TV feeds in the two rooms weren’t in sync. The cheering and celebrating in the house began upstairs moments before Ostapchuk got a glimpse with his own eyes that he had been picked by Ottawa at No. 39, the seventh pick of the second round.

“Everybody upstairs was going nuts. I had an idea of why, but it was still cool to see it come up on the TV,” said Ostapchuk, 18, who became the eighth-earliest Giants pick in an NHL draft in Vancouver’s 20-year history, following five first rounders and two earlier second rounders.

“I was expecting to go decently high, but this is higher than I thought. It’s a crazy feeling.”

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The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Ostapchuk had been pegged as a third or fourth rounder by most pundits. TSN’s Bob McKenzie, for instance, slotted him to go at No. 95.

Giants general manager Barclay Parneta and coach Michael Dyck both said that they received enough calls from NHL teams about Ostapchuk before the draft that they him had as a second-round possibility going in.

Ostapchuk talked to 25 NHL clubs in the weeks leading up to the draft. He says that he had only spoken to the Senators before Saturday.

Ostapchuk has size, he’s a speedster. “I don’t know if I saw anybody drive the net this year as well as he did,” Dyck said. Ostapchuk patterns his game after the likes of Josh Anderson, the winger who was crucial in the Montreal Canadiens’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.

“The ceiling is big here,” Dyck said of Ostapchuk, a natural centre who has played wing regularly in his two Western Hockey League campaigns with the Giants.

Ostapchuk saw top-six minutes, including first-unit power-play time, this past season with Vancouver and put up seven goals and 16 points in 22 games in the B.C. Division hub. He’ll receive even more ice time and have greater expectations with the Giants this season after the graduation of Vancouver forwards Tristen Nielsen and Eric Florchuk.

There’s also NHL draft status now attached to his name.

“There’s a little bit more pressure,” Ostapchuk said, “but I think I’ll be able to handle it.”

Port Moody’s Kent Johnson was the first B.C.-born player taken in this draft, as the University of Michigan forward went No. 5 overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.

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Johnson led the B.C. Hockey League in scoring in 2019-20 with 101 points, including 41 goals, in 52 regular season games with the Trail Smoke Eaters. He had nine goals and 27 points in 26 games with Michigan last season.

That’s the earliest a player with BCHL ties has been selected since the Phoenix Coyotes took Burnaby Express centre Kyle Turris at No. 3 in 2007.

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The second B.C. product selected was Logan Stankoven, a Kamloops native and Kamloops Blazers winger who went No. 47 overall to the Dallas Stars.

Stankoven, 18, had some first-round buzz before the draft. McKenzie tabbed him for No. 27 in his final rankings. Elite Prospects had him at No. 26.

Size was undoubtedly the issue. Stankoven is listed at 5-foot-8, 170 pounds. He notched seven goals and 10 points in six games in the B.C. hub after tallying 29 goals and 48 points in 59 games with Kamloops in 2019-20. He had four goals and eight points in seven games with Team Canada at the world Under-18 tournament in Dallas.

Tom Gaglardi owns both the Stars and the Blazers, so Dallas would undoubtedly have extra intel on Stankoven.

“Personally, I thought I was going to go a bit higher. That’s just because of what I saw with some certain rankings before the draft,” Stankoven said. “It can be normal for smaller guys to get passed over I guess.

“It does add more fuel to my fire. I’m going to do my best to prove those teams that passed on me that they were wrong. I don’t think it matters how big you are. If you can see the ice and skate and make plays at pace, you can be effective.”

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The Stars also took winger Ayrton Martino in the third round, No. 73 overall. The Toronto native was one of several players who started the season in the BCHL but jumped to the United States Hockey League midway through the campaign when provincial restrictions left the BCHL in practice-only for a time. He had 10 points in eight pre-season games with the Chilliwack Chiefs. He had 18 goals and 56 points in 38 games with the Omaha Lancers afterwards.

In the fifth round, with the 138th pick, the Stars also took Jack Bar, a defenceman from Newmarket, Ont., who started last season in the BCHL with the Penticton Vees but finished It in the USHL with the Chicago Steel.

SEwen@postmedia.com

Twitter: @SteveEwen

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