VANCOUVER, B.C. — Everett Silvertips goaltender Dustin Wolf sat amongst his parents, Mike and Michelle, and several other members of his immediate family as the seventh round approached of the 2019 NHL draft at Rogers Arena. A day that began with anticipation and optimism transformed into anxiety and dread very quickly.
Wolf, despite leading the Canadian Hockey League with a 1.69 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and 41 wins, and those close with him feared he would be passed over in the draft.
But that foreboding atmosphere switched to jubilation in an instant, as the Calgary Flames selected the Silvertips netminder with just four picks remaining in the seventh round, 214th overall. An audible shriek from the Wolf family and Silvertips fans rung out through the arena as Wolf’s name was announced.
“It was a huge relief,” Wolf said. “You’re thinking when it’s that close, you’re often not going to be picked. So, it’s even more special and it’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Wolf was one of the most dominant goaltenders in junior hockey this season, but the black mark on his scouting report was his height. At 6-foot, 161-pounds, Wolf is considered undersized for the position, with taller goalies theoretically able to fill more of the net, especially in the highly utilized butterfly style that’s common amongst modern goaltenders.
As a result, 21 goalies from all around the world and from various levels of junior hockey were taken before him.
Being passed over like that will serve as motivation, but for now, he’s trying to keep things in perspective.
“Getting picked is better than nothing,” Wolf said.
It was almost certain that Wolf would have had a chance to prove himself at an NHL training camp this summer even if he wasn’t selected. Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said that just about every team reached out to Davidson and Wolf’s agent after they made their final selection, seeking to make a deal to bring him to their summer development camp.
But Calgary hopped the line to ensure Wolf will be with the Flames.
“He’s very deserving to be picked,” Davidson said. “He’s a quality person and quality goalie. And the only knock on him right now is everyone believes their goaltender needs to be some magic number for height. It was great to see Calgary step up.”
Were there any regrets for gritting through those first 213 picks?
Absolutely not, Wolf said.
“There’s no words to describe it,” said Wolf, fighting back tears. “As you can tell I’m pretty emotional now. (It was) a long day but definitely one I’m grateful for.”