A pair of young Surrey hockey players took the next step in their careers Saturday, after being selected in the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft.
White Rock-born Caedan Bankier – who played minor hockey in Cloverdale and with the Burnaby Winter Club before making the leap to the major-junior ranks with the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers – was picked in the third round, 86th overall, by the Minnesota Wild, while Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum Carson Latimer, who also played at the Delta Hockey Academy and spent last season with the Edmonton Oil Kings, was picked in the fourth round, 123rd overall, by the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators originally were set to pick 136th but, worried Latimer would be snapped up by another team before they had the opportunity, they traded with the Carolina Hurricanes to move into the 123rd spot.
In a video posted to the Minnesota Wild’s website shortly after the draft, Bankier, a six-foot-two, 190-pound centre, said that he had been watching the draft proceedings at home with his family and a few friends.
“Watching your name get called is something I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life,” he said.
“It didn’t really seem real at first… but it’s slowly starting to sink in. My parents were pretty happy – a couple tears were shed. It was just a great moment for me and my family.”
Normally, the draft is an in-person affair, and held at an NHL arena. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both last summer’s draft and this year’s were held virtually.
Like Bankier, Latimer followed the draft with those closest to him; earlier this month, he told Black Press Media he would be on Salt Spring Island for a “mini vacation” with his family.
After being selected, the six-foot-one right-winger took to Twitter and wrote that he was “extremely honoured to have been selected by the Senators yesterday!”
“It’s only the beginning of my journey and I am very excited to embark on it,” he continued. “I would like to thank my family, teammates, coaches and all others who have helped me along the way. The work begins now!”
Extremely honoured to have been selected by the @Senators yesterday! It’s only the beginning of my journey and I am very excited to embark on it. I would like to thank my family, teammates, coaches, and all others who have helped me along the way. The work begins now! #GoSensGo
— Carson Latimer (@carsonladi03) July 25, 2021
Latimer was the third member of the Oil Kings selected in the draft, as two of his teammates – forward Dylan Guenther and goalie Sebastian Cossa – were both first-round picks.
This past spring, Latimer played 22 games for the Oil Kings in the pandemic-shortened WHL season, scoring five goals and adding 11 assists. He was named the WHL’s Central Division rookie of the year.
After the draft, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said the team considered selecting Latimer one round earlier, with the 74th pick, so when he was still available later, they pounced.
“We debated long and hard (about taking him in the third),” he said. “He caught our scouts’ eyes, first and foremost, with his speed, but then you look at his whole game and it’s pretty solid.”
Bankier, meanwhile, has played two seasons in the WHL. In last spring’s truncated schedule, he scored 11 goals and added 12 assists in 22 games, and two seasons ago, he posted 20 points in 55 games as a rookie.
Minnesota’s director of amateur scouting, Judd Brackett, said that Bankier’s size and intelligence were among the traits that drew the team to him.
“Bigger body, and for him, the hockey sense is really good,” Brackett said in a news release announcing the team’s draft picks.
“High character, works hard. The coaches (in Kamloops) really appreciate him as a low-maintenance guy who does the work. (He has) a really unselfish, team-oriented game and he’ll continue to work on his skating and strength. That’s the areas he needs to focus on.”