‘The biggest exhales out ever:’ Meet the last player taken in this year’s NHL draft

Tyler Peddle of Antigonish, New South Wales, sat inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for four to five hours on Thursday as the once-packed venue began to empty. ”I spent — waiting to see my name in this year’s NHL Draft.

As time went on and the final round of the draft progressed, Peddle admitted he began to have some questions.

“I thought I had a chance of getting past the draft,” he said Friday. “But I don’t know what will happen, so I can’t react.”

It wasn’t until the final call of the draft, Round 7, that his patience paid off.

“It was the best moment of my life,” he said.

“For the next hour, I think I was breathing out the loudest I’ve ever had.”

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The 18-year-old, who spent the past two seasons with the Drummondville Vaultiers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was selected 224th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It kind of went blank,” he said, remembering the first time he heard his name announced.

“I could barely hear my name. I just heard my family screaming and I thought it was me,” he said.

Having spent his youth playing with the Antigonish Bulldogs, Peddle didn’t travel alone from northern Nova Scotia towns to Music City. A dozen family entourage waited patiently by his side.

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As names were called and the crowd began to disperse, the family remained and held on to hope despite the time running out.

“I had parents, younger brothers, aunts and uncles from both countries, grandparents and even some cousins,” he continued. “Having celebrated it with my family will never be forgotten. It’s a really special moment for me.”

Following the welcome news, Peddle celebrated by spending time with his traveling family and some of the players who were also drafted in Thursday night’s draft.

When asked how his friends back home reacted after hearing he was recruited to the highest level of professional hockey, Peddle said, “My cell phone went flat.”

“You’ve wanted that dream since you started playing. You dedicate your whole life to it…everything you do is for this,” he said.

The 6-foot-1 winger, known for his athleticism and ability to get behind the net, has scored 24 goals and 17 assists for the Quebec side this season.

The draft pick, acquired by Columbus in a last-minute trade with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, said he now has a chance and the rest is in his hands.

“It paid off for not giving up,” said Peddle, the only Nova Scotian to be captured in Nashville. “I’m speechless. It was really my last day. It’s like a dream.”

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Peddle will depart Friday night to begin training with other prospects selected by the Blue Jackets during development camp in Columbus.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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