Nearly 24 hours after he was taken with the 32nd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Prince Albert Raiders blueliner Nolan Allan was starting to getting used to the fact that he was now a Chicago Blackhawks prospect.
“It’s still pretty surreal,” Allan said on Saturday afternoon.
“I think it will probably be a couple of days until it truly sinks in,”
The 18-year-old was sitting at home in Davidson on Friday night and watching the draft with his family when his name was called by the Blackhawks.
“I had talked with Chicago and I knew that they had some interest in me, but I had no idea if they would pick me or where I was going to be drafted,” Allan said.
“Once I got picked, the whole house erupted. Everyone jumped on me and I couldn’t even stand up. A whole bunch of friends and family pretty much packed our house after that and it ended up being a really memorable night.”
Allan’s selection was seen as a surprise by many pundits, as he had been ranked 40th overall among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and was projected to be picked anywhere from late in the second round to early in the fourth round.
However, Blackhawks general manager and president of hockey operations Stan Bowman said it was Allan’s play with Canada’s gold medal winning side at the World Under-18’s in Texas this spring that brought him to the forefront, especially when he got to see him in person.
“I thought he was fantastic during that tournament,” Bowman said of Allan, who was on Canada’s top defensive pairing with Barrie Colts blueliner and Los Angeles Kings first round pick Brandt Clarke.
“He’s a guy that brings a physical side to the game and he’s a competitive player. You notice Nolan whenever he is on the ice. He has the size, skating abilities and physicality that you need to have success in today’s game.”
Chicago had acquired the 32nd overall selection from the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the day as part of a deal where the Blackhawks landed blueliner Seth Jones.
The Blue Jackets had originally picked up that pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning in April in exchange for defenceman David Savard.
Allan is the third straight Raider to be taken in the first round of the draft, as blueliner Kaiden Guhle and forward Ozzy Wiesblatt were picked 16th and 31st overall last October by the Montreal Canadiens and the San Jose Sharks.
The last time that happened was in 2013 and 2014, when Josh Morrissey and Leon Draisaitl were chosen by the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers respectively.
Allan is also the second member of his family to be picked by a NHL team, as his uncle Chad was a third round choice (65th overall) by the Vancouver Canucks in 1994.
“He still has two world junior gold medals over me though, so that’s going to be pretty tough to try and match that,” Nolan said of his uncle, who had 115 points in 260 games as a member of the Saskatoon Blades blueline from 1992 to 1996.
Prior to Friday night, the last Raider to be picked by the Blackhawks was Mark McNeill, who was the 18th overall selection in 2011.
Other Raiders players who have been taken by Chicago are Mike McGhan (258th overall – 1993), Dean McAmmond (22nd overall – 1991), Tracy Egeland (132nd overall – 1989), Dave Manson (11th overall – 1985) and Bill Watson (70th overall – 1982).
After taking some time to relax following the draft, Allan plans to resume his off-season training this week as he gears up for his third campaign with the Raiders and his first camp with the Blackhawks.
“I’ve been to Chicago before, but I think that was almost a decade ago,” Allan said. “It’ll be a totally different experience this time around.”
Allan’s selection marked the 11th straight year that the Raiders have had a player picked during the NHL Draft, which is the longest run by a Western Hockey League team and the sixth longest in the entire Canadian Hockey League.
It was a strong weekend for the WHL as they had the most drafted players taken from any league with 33.
Allan was one of five WHL players to be selected on Friday, as Edmonton Oil Kings forward Dylan Guenther (9th overall – Arizona Coyotes), Medicine Hat Tigers forward Cole Sillinger (12th overall – Columbus Blue Jackets), Oil Kings netminder Sebastian Cossa (15th overall – Detroit Red Wings) and Winnipeg Ice blueliner Carson Lambos (26th overall – Minnesota Wild) were also picked in the first round.
A further 27 players were taken during the final six rounds on Saturday, with Everett Silvertips defenceman Olen Zellweger leading the charge after being taken 34th overall by the Anaheim Ducks.
Raiders blueliner Landon Kosior and goaltender Carter Serhyenko were both ranked by NHL Central Scouting but were not selected.