Lernout and fam­ily say ‘merci’ to Habs

Win­nipeg D-man has French-Cana­dian in blood

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - NHLDRAFT - By Tim Camp­bell

PHILADEL­PHIA — It was a big day for Win­nipeg’s Brett Lernout, the third of three Man­i­to­bans selected at the NHL Draft. And his fam­ily. The 18-year-old de­fence­man from the Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos was cho­sen by the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens in the third round on Satur­day, 73rd over­all.

Lernout’s mother’s side of the fam­ily is French- Cana­dian (his mom Jackie’s maiden name is Bo­hemier), so you can imag­ine how that went over.

“It’s a dream come true,” Lernout, the 6- 4 blue-liner, said.

“My fam­ily’s re­ally ex­cited with the FrenchCana­dian back­ground.” Lernout chose not to at­tend the draft. He said his agent had alerted him a pick in the fourth or fifth round was likely but then he called on Satur­day morn­ing with con­grat­u­la­tions.

“I thought, ‘Oh- oh,’ but he was only call­ing to con­grat­u­late me,” Lernout said. “I hadn’t seen it pop up on the screen yet. I hadn’t been pay­ing that much at­ten­tion so early in the draft.”

Lernout, who ex­celled at the scout­ing com­bine’s weight-lift­ing tests in late May, had an in­kling the Habs were in­ter­ested.

“They seemed quite in­ter­ested there so I had the idea I might go there,” he said.

Even bet­ter, the Habs traded up in the third round with Phoenix to se­lect him.

“That does feel re­ally good,” Lernout said.

A good many late-round draft picks don’t bother at­tend­ing the pro­ceed­ings. Many sim­ply can’t stand the stress, es­pe­cially when they’re not sure they’ll be picked.

But Matt Us­taski, selected by the Win­nipeg Jets in Satur­day’s sev­enth round, 192nd over­all, just had a feel­ing, and came to Philadel­phia from his Chicago-area home.

“I don’t know. Maybe I just had a feel­ing,” Us­taski said. “I know I’m a bit of an older guy, 20 al­ready. I just had a feel­ing I’d get picked to­day. I’m glad I came.

“A lit­tle ner­vous. Just good to see my name up on the board.”

Us­taski will go to Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin this fall. They like his size, as do the Jets.

“I’m 6- 6, around 225, so I like to use my big body and I skate pretty well for my size,” he said. “I’m a cen­tre, good in the face­off dot as well, and I can cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties off that.” Is it some form of pay­back? The con­nect may be weak, but in the sev­enth round of the draft, just like last year, a player was selected who went un­signed af­ter his first draft.

Last year, the Jets chose de­fence­man Bren­den Kich­ton, who had been picked in 2011 but not signed by the New York Is­lan­ders.

Satur­day, the Is­lan­ders chose Lukas Sut­ter, who had been cho­sen by the Jets in the sec­ond round of 2012. The Jets did not to sign Sut­ter.

In a some­what un­usual move, the Jets chose two 20-year- olds among their seven se­lec­tions at this year’s draft.

For­wards C. J. Franklin and Matt Us­traski are both past their 20th birth­days and have been un­s­e­lected through two drafts al­ready.

“There are dif­fer­ent time frames for people to turn pro,” said Jets GM Kevin Chevel­day­off. “It’s all go­ing to be about their de­vel­op­ment mov­ing for­ward whether they’re 17, 18... again, you fac­tor those things into the equa­tion, but it’s all about cre­at­ing depth within your or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Franklin will go to Univer­sity of Min­nesota, Mankato and Us­traski is headed to Wis­con­sin. If they stay in school, the Jets will re­tain their rights for up to four years.

On the sub­ject of age, Win­nipeg’s six­thround pick, 17-year- old Rus­sian Pavel Kraskovsky, was el­i­gi­ble for this draft by just five days, born Sept. 11, 1996.

Chevel­day­off in­di­cated Satur­day winger Devin Se­toguchi may not be in the team’s fu­ture plans. That’s not a sur­prise. Se­toguchi will be an un­re­stricted free agent as of Tues­day af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing 11-goal sea­son.

“I haven’t reached out to Se­toguchi’s agent yet but the other agents (of free-agent Jets), I have had some form of con­ver­sa­tion with,” the GM said.

The Jets made two of­fi­cial trades on Satur­day, but they prob­a­bly weren’t what some fans were hop­ing for.

Win­nipeg traded its 159th pick and the rights to pend­ing free agent goalie Ed­die Pasquale to Wash­ing­ton for the 164th (Pavel Kraskovsky) and 192nd (Matt Us­taski) picks and Wash­ing­ton’s sev­enth-round pick next year.

As well, Win­nipeg sent its 189th pick to Ot­tawa for the Sens’ sixth-round pick next year.

Brett Lernout

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