Summerside, P.E.I., defenceman Noah Dobson was selected 12th overall by the New York Islanders at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas.
Dobson was widely expected to be taken in the top 10, but a couple of off-the-board picks changed that.
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan star was the Islanders' second straight selection after they took forward Oliver Wahlstrom with the 11th pick.
As expected, the Buffalo Sabres snagged Swedish defenceman Rasmus Dahlin first overall.
Dobson is fresh off winning the Memorial Cup, the holy grail of major junior hockey.
"It's pretty surreal. It hasn't really sunk in yet, just to be here around all the players for the draft and having a bunch of family here," Dobson told CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin from Dallas on Friday.
'A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity'
Dobson said he didn't have a good sense of where he would be picked.
"I'm not trying to wrap my head around where I'm going to go. I'm just going to try and sit back and whenever my name's called it's going to be a great feeling and an honour to be able to join that organization," he said.
The best advice Dobson has received is to just take it all in, he said.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and some kids would do anything to be in my shoes right now. I'm just grateful to be here and the opportunity I have to be drafted in the NHL, and [I'm going to] enjoy the whole experience and soak it all in."
He takes "great pride" in being from P.E.I., alongside Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, who was named the NHL's coach of the year Wednesday night in a near-unanimous vote.
"It's such a small, hard-working island and everyone's really proud of everyone who has success, so to be on a stage like this representing the Island and Gerard Gallant as well, and both being from Summerside, we take great pride in that," Dobson said.
Dobson logged two goals and seven points in four Memorial Cup games, culminating in a 3-0 win over the Regina Pats in the final. It was the Titan's first national championship.
The championship came after racking up 17 goals and 69 points in 67 regular season games.
"We wanted to put Bathurst on the map and we all bought in at the right time and everyone clicked together," he said.
'A special kid, special talent'
Rodney MacArthur coached Dobson for a span of seven years to peewee AAA. He's excited to see what happens in the draft.
"You always knew he was a special kid, special talent, but it's a big hockey world out there, so to hear he's going probably in the top 10 in the NHL draft, 2018, is an amazing accomplishment."
MacArthur pointed out some rankings had Dobson going in the 50 to 60 range at the start of the year.
"They were over for a bonfire late summer and he said the goal was to get to the top 10 and that's the kind of kid he is, and look, he's [likely] going top 10."
Dobson took a partly unconventional route, joining the Red Bull Salzburg hockey academy in Austria for a year before being drafted sixth overall by the Titan at the 2016 QMJHL draft in Charlottetown.
"The year in Europe really did wonders for Noah," MacArthur said. "He calls it the Disney World of hockey. He was night and day working on his hockey skills."
Some teammates and parents gathered at the MacArthur home to watch. About 15 family members and friends have joined Dobson in Dallas, MacArthur said.
As MacArthur noted, fellow Islander and Moncton Wildcats winger Jeremy McKenna is looking to be taken on Saturday, when rounds two through seven take place. McKenna posted 36 goals and 77 points in 68 games this year.
"We're really pulling for him as well. Much like Noah, he's very driven, great hockey sense, great skill."
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