July 12th, 2024

Unranked Tigers excited for potential draft calls

By JAMES TUBB on June 28, 2024.

NEWS FILE PHOTOS Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter St. Martin and goaltender Ethan McCallum have both garnered interest ahead of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft starting Friday.


The Medicine Hat Tigers will be well represented throughout the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

The Tigers have two players projected to be selected in the first round Friday, forward Cayden Lindstrom in the top five and forward Andrew Basha in the late stages of the round.

Tomas Mrsic is projected to be picked in the second day of drafting Saturday and Shane Smith enters the NHL draft as the 161st ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.

The Tigers could also see two other players selected, with forward Hunter St. Martin and goaltender Ethan McCallum going unranked but garnering NHL attention.

St. Martin says he’s spoken with 12 NHL teams and McCallum has talked with a handful of teams. It’s a first for both players, McCallum entering his draft year and St. Martin vastly improving on his rookie season with a strong sophomore campaign.

After putting up just eight goals and 22 points in 61 games last season, St. Martin took on a bigger role this year and doubled his offence, scoring 24 goals and 52 points while playing in all 68 games in the regular season. He added a goal and five points in the Tigers’ five playoff games.

St. Martin had no nerves around the draft last year, he knew there wasn’t a lot of interest for him at that time. A year later, with the interest following him, he says there are some nerves but he’s also prepared to put up another show year if his name isn’t called.

“I’m confident in whatever happens, happens, I’ve put myself in a position where I’ve given myself an opportunity and I can’t really control anything else,” St. Martin said. “So whether I get drafted, or go to a camp, or you don’t do any of that, I’ll just keep working, keep getting better and trusting the process and try to help the Tigers go win a championship.”

The 19-year-old Edmonton product enjoyed the interview process with teams and says he learned from the feedback from teams, as well as learning some new things about himself. St. Martin says he gained a lot of confidence from speaking with NHL teams and says he’s gained a stronger attitude in speaking with confidence and having belief in himself.

“There’s always going to be enough people in your life who say you’re not good enough,” St. Martin said. “The biggest thing for me, is advocating for yourself and believing in yourself. It’s just being confident in your abilities and your work ethic.”

He’s going to be spending Friday night watching along and celebrating Lindstrom and Basha being selected. Then on Saturday, when he’s hoping to hear his name called, St. Martin says he’s going to do his normal workout routines before going golfing with a friend and his dad, Blair St. Martin.

“I’m just going to enjoy the day, whatever happens, happens, it’s so out of my control, and I’ll just take it day by day,” St. Martin said.

McCallum shared a similar attitude ahead of his first chance at being drafted. The 18-year-old Brandon product split duties in net with 19-year-old Zach Zahara, playing 23 games with a 3.06 goals against average and an .886 save percentage, with a n11-8-1 record.

He’s excited by the potential to be drafted but says he won’t let it get to him if his name doesn’t have an NHL team’s logo beside it after the weekend. McCallum says what he learned from the draft experience and his first season in the WHL has given him the motivation to put himself firmly in draft talks next season, or show why a team selected him.

“I didn’t get a whole lot of games and maybe my numbers weren’t where they should have been, but as the year went on, I learned and grew a lot,” McCallum said. “I’m thankful for the team that we had last year and the team that’s coming forward. I want to really just push through and do more for the team and less for myself, just focus on winning a championship instead of trying to get individual accolades.”

Both are looking forward to watching along for their own names, each other’s and to see how many times they can have a Medicine Hat Tigers player drafted after none being selected for two years.

“Every guy in that room, whether they’re getting drafted or not, we work together and we have fun and we’re a family, so it’s just the best thing to see guys getting some success in the NHL level,” St. Martin said.

The first round of the NHL Draft gets underway tonight at 5 p.m., with rounds two through seven getting started Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

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