Lernout selected by Habs in third round, Martin to Sabres with next pick
© Steven Mah
It was a banner two days for the Swift Current Broncos when three defensemen were selected during the first three rounds of the 2014 NHL Draft Friday in Philadelphia, PA on Friday and Saturday.
Import defenseman Julius Honka was selected 14th overall by the Dallas Stars on the first day of the draft. Honka is the first Bronco selected in the first round of the NHL Draft since Nathan Smith in 2000 and is now the second highest Bronco draft pick all-time after Tyler Wright, who was drafted 12th in 2001.
The Broncos selected Honka 32nd overall in the 2013 Import Draft and he delivered immediately last season with 10 goals and 40 assists in 62 games. The Jyvaskyla, Finland product also helped Finland to a gold medal at the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships.
“He’s an elite player going to a great organization,” said Broncos Head Coach and General Manager Mark Lamb. “I just spoke to his family and they are overjoyed that he was selected that high,” added Lamb.
Defenseman Brett Lernout was selected early Saturday by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round, 73rd overall.
“It is just a surreal feeling,” said Lernout shortly after being selected. “Every kid dreams for this day to come and here I am today. I am really just speechless right now. It is just a dream come true.”
The 6'4'' Winnipeg product broke out offensively in his third WHL season in 2013-14 when he tallied eight goals and 14 assists to go along with 103 penalty minutes in 72 games.
“He came in as the number six d-man and put in the work to have some success,” said Lamb of Lernout. “Being drafted in the third round is a great story.”
Lernout was watching the draft at home when his agent called and gave him the news.
“It is a Canadian team and I am really happy to be there. I come from a French background so to go to Montreal my family is extremely happy. That’s all they really knew was the Habs.”
He said his third-round selection was a welcome surprise.
“It wasn’t tough really because I was expecting maybe to go in the fourth or fifth round so I was just kind of waiting for those rounds to pop up and then I got the call.”
Lernout agreed his third round selection was a confidence booster.
“Yeah for sure, but again it is just a number. It is what I do after the draft now that is going to make a player in the NHL. It is going to be how hard I work after this draft.”
Defenseman Brycen Martin followed on the very next pick when the Buffalo Sabres selected him 74th.
The 6'2'' Calgary native nearly doubled his offensive production during his second WHL season. Martin registered six goals and 31 assists in 72 games last season after totaling 19 points in his rookie season.
“He’s going to an organization that’s rebuilding. Marty has come a long way. He’s maturing all the time and will have a monster year for us this season,” said Lamb of Martin.
The three drafted Broncos will rejoin Dillon Heatherington (Columbus, 50th, 2013) on an experienced blueline next season.
“Our top four defencemen are all NHL drafted players, the make up of our blue line looks excellent. There are a lot good things going on with our hockey team,” concluded Lamb.