By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
Nick Walters almost missed the moment.
The Everett Silvertips defenseman was at his home in St. Albert, Alberta, Saturday morning, keeping track of the second day of the NHL draft online, when the internet in his house went down moments before he was selected in the fourth round by the St. Louis Blues.
Walters scrambled for an alternative, finding the television coverage just before he was picked. However, an interview was taking place on the broadcast at the time of St Louis’ pick, meaning Walters didn’t hear his name called.
“My agent called to congratulate me, and I had to ask, ‘Oh, where did I go?’” Walters said.
The 18-year-old Walters was taken 116th overall by the Blues. That was right in the range where Walters, who was 67th among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Service’s final rankings, was expected to be picked.
“I’m just excited to be drafted into the NHL,” Walters said. “It’s every kid’s dream, having the chance to get to this point in their career.”
The first member off the Blues organization to contact Walters was a Hall of Fame defenseman. Al MacInnis, who’s St. Louis’ vice president of hockey operations, called Walters shortly after the selection.
“It’s awesome,” Walters said about being picked by St. Louis. “They’re a good organization, and they have some great people who I met at the combine. They had a really good team this year, finishing second in the (Western Conference). When (MacInnis) called me he was really nice. He congratulated me and made me feel real welcome.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Walters, who was Everett’s first-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft, is a hard-hitting defenseman with a big shot. Last season, his second with the Tips, he had six goals, 12 assists and 95 penalty minutes in 62 games.
“Walters is an interesting kid,” Blues director of amateur scouting Bill Armstrong told St. Louis’ website. “He’s a competitive kid and I think you see that because he put up more fights than any other draft-eligible defenseman. I don’t think he’s a fighter, but you can see his will to play the game and stick up for teammates and try to make a difference. He’s like (current Blues defenseman) Roman Polak; he plays that type of game.”
Walters was the only Silvertip selected on Day 2 of the draft, which took place in Pittsburgh and included rounds two through seven. Tips captain Ryan Murray was selected second overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during Fridays’ first round.
Two other players of significance to the Tips were selected Saturday.
Winger Jujhar Khaira, whose rights were acquired from Prince George during the bantam draft in May, was selected in the third round, 63rd overall, by the Edmonton Oilers. Khaira, a power forward with scoring ability from Surrey, B.C., is committed to attend Michigan Tech next season. However, the Tips are hoping to recruit Khaira to Everett. Tips general manager Garry Davidson said he hoped to meet with Khaira and his family next week.
Defenseman Reece Willcox, whose rights were acquired from Portland in the Seth Jones trade in May, was taken in the fifth round, 141st overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers. Willcox, a puck-moving defenseman who also hails from Surrey, is committed to attend Cornell next season. Davidson was less optimistic about landing Willcox, saying Willcox’s commitment to Cornell remains solid.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.