With his loved ones surrounding him at home in Estevan, Cole Fonstad got the news he wanted to hear Saturday.
The 18 year old Prince Albert Raiders forward was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 128th pick during the fifth round of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Dallas, Tex.
“We had everyone over to watch the draft this morning and it was a pretty exciting moment when Montreal drafted me,” Fonstad said.
“It’s a feeling that you can’t really describe. It never feels like it could be real until it actually happens. It’s been a very special day.”
Heading into the draft, Fonstad was projected to be selected anywhere from the late second round to the middle of the fourth round, but he wasn’t paying any attention to any of the predictions.
“You can kind of tell what teams are interested in you and which ones aren’t, but I wasn’t trying to think about it too much,” Fonstad said.
“You don’t want to overthink anything. I just tried to take everything as it came and I’m really relieved and excited to reach some new goals.”
Fonstad is the first Raiders player to be selected by the Canadiens since Kyle Chipchura was taken with the 18th overall pick in 2004.
Evan Lindsay was a fourth round pick by Montreal in 1999 and Jeff Lank was selected by the team in the fifth round of the 1993 draft.
“I had talked to them a few times throughout the year and then again at the draft combine in Buffalo a few weeks ago,” Fonstad said. “I thought all of the meetings went really well with them.
“It’s really cool to be joining a Canadian team and one of the Original Six teams. I’m excited to get started with them.”
Fonstad was second in scoring for the Raiders last season with 73 points in 72 games and had five points in seven playoff games.
He also played in five games for Canada at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
“Playing for the Raiders has been awesome,” Fonstad said. “I love living and playing there, and I’ve been really lucky with the teammates and the support I’ve had there for the last two years.
“They gave me an opportunity and I’ve been lucky in being able to make the most of that chance.”
Fonstad will now gear up to attend the Canadiens’ rookie camp next week before returning to Saskatoon to continue his summer training.
This marks the eighth straight year that a Raiders player has been selected at the NHL Draft, a streak that started with Mark McNeill being taken with the 18th overall pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011.
Raiders forward Kody McDonald and defenceman Brayden Pachal were both ranked by NHL Central Scouting as re-entry candidates but were not selected.
Blueliner Vojtech Budik was also not drafted after the Buffalo Sabres elected not to sign him to an entry-level contract after drafting him the fifth round two seasons ago.
Meanwhile, two Raiders draft picks had their names called by a NHL team over the weekend.
German forward Dominik Bokk, who was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, was selected by the St. Louis Blues with the 25th overall pick after a 41 point campaign in Sweden with the Vaxjo Lakers Under-20 program.
Forward Gavin Hain, who was an eighth round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, was taken in the sixth round with the 174th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres.
The Grand Rapids, Minn. native had 18 points in 25 games for the United States National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League last season and has committed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
Edmonton Oil Kings forward Trey Fix-Wolansky, whose rights were dealt by the Raiders in Sept. 2016, was drafted in the seventh round by the Columbus Blue Jackets.