Croteau says it’s an “unreal feeling” to be drafted into the NHL

To be drafted into the National Hockey League is a huge honour and that’s not lost on 18-year-old Emmett Croteau.

The Bonnyville goaltender was proud to be selected in the 6th round, 162nd overall by the Montreal Canadiens, perhaps the most prestigious of NHL franchises.

“It still hasn’t hit 100 per cent. I think just sharing this moment with my family and friends. There’s so many people in my corner…it’s just an unreal feeling,” Croteau told Lakeland Connect on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to sit there and just watch the phone and watch the rounds go by because I can imagine how long that could have made it feel, but I just kind of put my phone away and was at the rink getting ready to go on the ice and the phone rang. It was just a surreal experience.”

The NHL entry draft was held in the belle province on July 7th and it was a wild weekend for Habs fans. They had the 1st overall pick and suprised fans with their choice, traded for Kirby Dach who was only three years removed from a top-3 selection, and plucked a netminder from the Lakeland in the 6th round.

Croteau had been talking to Montreal before the draft and was listed as the 10th best North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting.

After being chosen it was a quick celebration and then a matter of hopping on a plane to Montreal for Development Camp, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Juraj Slafkovsky, the 1st overall selection, Canadiens coach and NHL legend Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier, who is a special adviser to hockey operations.

“The staff did an amazing job kind of bringing us in and making us feel welcome. So I think from there, everyone was just maybe a little nervous from they didn’t know what to expect, in a sense. We can kind of could take that step back and just relax and play our game and just show them why they picked us,” he said.

“It was a blast. It was a huge moment in my life I’ll remember forever.”

As was pointed out in a tweet by a Habs reporter, Croteau had a unique opportunity as one of the sessions was wrapping up. Lecavalier scooped one of the loose pucks and decided to test Croteau on a breakaway.

“We’re just like finishing up a drill or whatnot and I see Vinny kind peel around with a puck and I was like, okay, this is happening and I ended up stopping him, which was pretty cool experience,” he said.

“At first it was [hard not to be] a little starstruck, just kind of watching them all while I was growing up playing hockey. But meeting them they’re just amazing, so welcoming and yeah, again, just had a blast.”

Croteau has played with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL for the past two seasons and plans to return to his junior club next year as he’ll get prime playing time with his goalie partner leaving for Notre Dame. It won’t be long for him to jump into the NCAA either with a commitment to Clarkson University already secured, and a path being forged beyond.

In the meantime, Croteau will continue to train this summer locally before plunging down to Iowa for the season.

“Thank you to all my family and friends just kind of helping me supporting me and throughout this journey and shoutout to Cam Emigh as well.”

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