July 20th, 2024

St. Martin relishing NHL Draft selection

By JAMES TUBB on July 6, 2024.

NEWS FILE PHOTO Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter St. Martin was drafted in the sixth round, 193rd overall by the Florida Panthers on the second day of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft on June 29.

jtubb@medicinehatnews.com@ReporterTubb

Hunter St. Martin had a unique NHL Draft day experience.

The 19-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers forward was eating lunch on June 29 after a round of golf with his parents, best friend and billet brother at the Black Hawk Golf Course in Edmonton. His sister, who works at the course, was serving them the meal and St. Martin was enjoying a flatbread pizza when he saw that his NHL dream had come true.

St. Martin had his phone propped up against a window tracking all of the picks when the end of the sixth round was nearing and a he saw an extremely familiar name.

“Florida was probably my most expected team, so I was just looking closely at those pics and I saw my name and I stood up and said, I got drafted,” St. Martin said. “I hugged everyone and then your phone kind of blows up. This is pretty cool.”

St. Martin was drafted 193rd overall by the Florida Panthers and was glad he could share the moment with those who helped get him to the opportunity.

“They sacrificed a lot of time, money, everything to try to push me along with my dreams, and they’ve always supported me and let me pursue my dreams,” St. Martin said. “That’s just a testament to them and I’m thankful for all the support I get from my family, my friends, coaches everyone. It’s all about your whole support cast, it’s all a testament to them that this happened. That’s really special.”

The Edmonton product entered the draft off a 24-goal, 52-point season, playing all 68 games for the Tigers in his second full-WHL campaign. He added a goal and five points in five playoff games as well. St. Martin says he wasn’t expecting to be drafted nor was he worried about whether he would hear his name called.

His concern remained and will continue to remain with controlling what he can and being his best every day.

“I can’t control who drafts me, where you go, or what happens. All you can control is what you do day in and day out, and what you’re doing to get better every day,” St. Martin said. “That’s kind of what I live by. Now I’ve gotten the opportunity to be in the Florida Panthers organization, that just shows that I have to keep working, control what I can every day and work hard to eventually get that contract now, which is the next step. There’s always something that you’re pushing for.”

It wasn’t long ago that St. Martin admits the NHL Draft was just a childhood dream. The 2021-22 season was his first opportunity to play for the Tigers. Instead, he had 10 goals and 29 points in 26 games with OHA Edmonton of the CSSHL while getting called up sporadically to play a total of 15 games.

The next season, St. Martin made the team out of camp and put up eight goals and 22 points in 61 games while he learned the pace of the WHL. After that season, 2022-23, St. Martin had his first chance to be drafted but says it wasn’t even on his radar because he knew he hadn’t gotten to the level needed to be selected.

“I was just looking to get better every day, but I wasn’t really expecting that,” St. Martin said. “It all comes back to just controlling what I can control and things happen. That’s just the best way I could put it.”

The next thing on his radar is development camp with the Panthers, which gets underway July 8. He’ll head to Sunrise, Fla. and see the remains from the Panthers’ Stanley Cup championship celebration after they captured their first title in franchise history.

St. Martin says getting drafted by the now-defending Stanley Cup Champions sets a high bar he’s looking to climb.

“They have some great core values of winning and development, they’re always a contender,” St. Martin said. “I’m really excited to get into that type of organization with their great core beliefs.”

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