Jun. 29—NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Hampton Slukynsky was working out in Warroad, checking NHL Draft updates periodically on his phone.
He saw the Tampa Bay Lightning selected his Warroad High classmate Jayson Shaugabay in the fourth round, No. 115 overall. Just as he set his phone down to go back to work, it lit up and started ringing.
It was the Los Angeles Kings informing Slukynsky that they just picked him with the No. 118 overall selection in the 2023 NHL Draft.
Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Winner, Shaugabay, and the Frank Brimsek Award winner, Slukynsky, were taken just three spots apart in Bridgestone Arena.
“It’s crazy, playing on the same high school team and being picked three spots from each other,” Slukynsky said. “It’s definitely really cool.”
It marked Warroad’s third drafted player in the past two years. In 2022, forward Daimon Gardner was picked in the fourth round, No. 112 overall, by the Vancouver Canucks.
Shaugabay’s selection was expected.
The 5-foot-9, 153-pound winger, who racked up 96 points in 31 games for Warroad High last season, attended the draft with his family.
“It’s something you dream about, and for it to finally come true, you really don’t have words for it,” Shaugabay said. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Shaugabay said he spoke with the Lightning multiple times this season, including a meeting at the NHL Combine earlier this month. He said those interviews went well and the organization made it clear they were interested in him.
“I know they’ve got a lot of good people there and they win,” Shaugabay said. “I know they’re in a pretty cool location too, and that’s always a little bonus. So it’s just a really great spot.”
Tampa Bay won Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021 with smaller, dynamic forwards. Nikita Kuchernov and Brayden Point, both under 6 feet, finished 1-2 in Stanley Cup Playoff scoring in both years.
Shaugabay said Nashville is the farthest he’s ever been from Warroad.
“I’ve just tried to enjoy it,” Shaugabay said. “I’ve got a lot of family here so being able to walk around Nashville and go on the little scooters with them and do all that, it’s been really fun. I’m really grateful I’ve gotten to experience it.”
Next season, Shaugabay will play for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League. He’s committed to Minnesota Duluth for the fall of 2024.
Slukynsky’s selection wasn’t a guarantee.
So, the 6-foot-1, 179-pound goaltender didn’t attend the draft in person, but he didn’t have to wait long to get picked.
“I’m really happy,” Slukynsky said. “It’s kind of your dream. Every little kid’s dream is to get drafted into the NHL. So, it’s just a dream come true.”
Slukynsky said he knew the Kings had an interest in him. They had talked throughout the season.
“I definitely knew they were one of the teams who could be picking me,” he said.
Slukynsky is scheduled to play for the Fargo Force in the USHL next season. He’s committed to Northern Michigan for the fall of 2024.
“There are obviously things I need to do to improve to play well at the next level,” Slukynsky said. “High school isn’t as quick as the USHL. It’s a little adjustment there. If I improve on a couple things, I’ll be able to settle in and have a nice year.”
One North Dakota native was picked in the NHL Draft on Thursday.
Defenseman Zach Nehring of Minot went in the third round, No. 82 overall, to the Winnipeg Jets.
Nehring, who played his high school hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep School, is committed to Western Michigan for the fall of 2024. He’s expected to play for the Sioux Falls Stampede this season.
Source: Yahoo Sports