BUFFALO — Conner Bleackley’s wild ride ended in an interesting fashion on Day 2 of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Bleackley, taken 23rd overall by the Avs at the 2014 draft, found himself back in the mix this year, and on Saturday was taken 144th overall by the Blues, who traded up to get him.
Bleackley’s story is pretty unique. He re-entered the draft after the Coyotes — who acquired him at the deadline in the Mikkel Boedker trade with Colorado — opted not to offer him a contract.
Arizona GM John Chayka called Bleackley “a good player,” but said the Coyotes would get more value by taking a compensatory pick instead (Round 2, 53 overall).
That decision came after Bleackley, 20, had 46 points in 55 games for WHL Red Deer this season, and valiantly returned from a wrist tendon laceration to play in the Memorial Cup, scoring two points in four games.
But that’s about it, as far as recent positives go.
Upon getting drafted, Bleackley’s Red Deer coach, Brent Sutter, said the kid wasn’t ready for NHL hockey. Bleackley then arrived at his first Avs camp out of shape, and was sent packing early. Colorado balked on signing him, and shipped him to Arizona.
Bleackley learned of the trade while recovering from a broken kneecap.
Two weeks after returning, he suffered the aforementioned wrist tendon laceration.
It’s going to be curious to see how Bleackley reacts to today’s development. Even though he fell from the first to the fifth round, he was still drafted — and based on what he had to say earlier this month, he’s determined to prove his doubters wrong.
“”I feel like I’ve got a lot left to give,” he said, per the Calgary Herald. “A lot of people may have counted me out already, but you won’t be able to convince me otherwise until it’s all said and done.”