The last time the NHL Entry Draft took place in an arena was back in 2019.
That year, Randy Edmonds, a local hockey coach who is now a player agent with Quartexx, could be seen during the broadcast sitting with his client Philip Broberg, who ended up being selected in the opening round of the draft by the Edmonton Oilers. If you saw Broberg's reaction after the selection, you could see the North Bay native congratulating his client in the stands before the big Swedish defenceman headed to the podium to put on the Oilers jersey.
Fast forward through the pandemic to the 2022 NHL Draft which begins with the opening round tonight in Montreal, and now Edmonds is hoping to make another cameo at the NHL draft with the hopes that the next handshake on national TV will be with his son Lucas Edmonds.
Lucas, the 20-year-old had a "coming-out" party this season exploding for 113 points in his only year of major junior hockey with the Kingston Frontenacs as an overage skilled forward.
Drafted in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection by the Fronts, Edmonds played junior and some minor pro in Sweden before deciding to come back from overseas to play in North America.
Looking back, Lucas admits he never would have guessed how great that decision was to help vault his status amongst NHL scouts despite the fact he was overlooked the past two draft years.
"It has obviously been a very fun time for me and I am really glad I was able to make a full transition coming to Kingston," he said.
"I think going into the season I really did not have too many expectations as to how things would go. I kind of wanted to come to the team and make an impact. The coaches told me I would have a big role and that was enticing for me so I wanted to make the most of it and see where that was going to take me but I don't think I really could have imagined it going as well as it did," added Edmonds who was recently named the OHL's third all-star team right winger.
North Bay overage forward Lucas Edmonds of the Kingston Frontenacs was named the third all-star team right winger. Edmonds had an impressive overage season as a rookie registering 34 goals and 79 assists for 113 points.
See related: Edmonds chasing North Bay Hockey History
Edmonds was listed at 104th for North American Skaters in the final rankings listed by NHL Central Scouting this spring. The Hockey News has Edmonds projected to go within the top 75 in the draft.
The humble, mature young winger has been talking to a lot of teams and is coming off a successful NHL combine.
He says his focus has now changed from doing the right things on the ice to saying the right things to the multitude of NHL teams that have interviewed him in the past few weeks.
"There are no more games to try and impress the scouts so if I have any meetings, lunches, or dinners with teams, I just have to make sure to say the right thing and not say the wrong things. Once you get to a point that you have done it enough times and you kind of expect the questions that are coming and I think now I have it down to a science, so I am pretty prepared going to those types of meetings," he said confidently.
Lucas has credited his dad with helping him push to get better on the ice.
But now his dad Randy is using his experience working with NHL prospects to help him prepare for all that he has been experiencing through talking to those NHL teams that are interested in him.
"It has been really helpful and kind of prepared me for what I can expect leading up to it," Lucas said about his father Randy who coached professionally in Sweden and locally in the 2000s with the North Bay Skyhawks.
"He is very knowledgable with that stuff and he has been through it with other players so I am definitely not going into this week blindly and it has taken a load off my mind. I think it is always good to have extra support in your corner."
Through the entire process, Edmonds just really wants to go to a good team that gives him an opportunity to develop. He says it's more what you do after the draft than when you are selected so where he goes is not a huge deal for him.
If he is selected, it would mark two years in a row for North Bay players to be drafted in the NHL Draft, with Ben Gaudreau being selected in the third round, 81st overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Edmonds has not spent as much time in North Bay recently as Gaudreau, but he would be proud of his roots in North Bay.
"I think it shows how much North Bay has progressed in their development and the youth hockey programs," admitted Edmonds.
"A lot of people have put the time and money into developing these kids and also maybe turn into NHL players one day so it would definitely be special to be part of."