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2019 NHL Draft tracker: Rounds 2-7

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The first round of the 2019 NHL draft was a quiet one in terms of transactions, with only one trade being made (The Arizona Coyotes moving up from 14 to 11 in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers). With six rounds go to on Day 2 there is sure to be more activity. While top picks Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will dominate the headlines in this year’s class, there are still some potential impact players available when Round 2 begins on Saturday.

Here are some of the best players available at the start of the second round.

Following along with our 2019 NHL draft tracker for all of the picks.

Here are some of the top stories from Round 1 of the draft.

Round 2

32. Ottawa Senators — Shane Pinto, forward, Tri-City Storm
33. Los Angeles Kings — Arthur Kaliyev, forward, Hamilton Bulldogs

This looks like a potentially great pick for the Kings. Kaliyev was a potential first-round talent that scored 51 goals this past season as a 17-year-old in the OHL.

34. Philadelphia Flyers (from New Jersey — From Nashville) — Bobby Brink, forward, USHL

Skating concerns dropped him down the draft.

35. Detroit Red Wings — Antti Tuomisto, defender, Finland
36. Carolina Hurricanes (from Buffalo) — Pyotr Kochetkov, goalie, Russia
37. Ottawa Senators (from New York Rangers — from Carolina) — Mads Sogaard, goalie, Medicine Hat Tigers

38. Edmonton Oilers — Raphael Lavoie, forward, Halifax Mooseheads

Lavoie was expected to go higher than this, but falls to the Oilers in the second round.

39. Anaheim Ducks — Jackson Lacombe, defender, Shattuck St. Mary’s.
40. Vancouver Canucks — Nils Hoglander, forward, Sweden
41. Vegas Golden Knights (from Philadelphia — From San Jose) — Kaedan Korczak, defense, Kelowna Rockets
42. Minnesota Wild — Vladislav Firstov, forward, Waterloo Black Hawks
43. Chicago Blackhawks — Alex Vlasic, defender, USHL

He is the cousin of San Jose Sharks defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

44. Carolina Hurricanes (from Florida — From San Jose — From Ottawa) — Jameison Rees, forward, Sarnia Sting
45. Nashville Predators (from Arizona Coyotes — From Philadelphia Flyers) — Egor Afanasyev, forward, Muskegon Lumberjacks
46. Montreal Canadiens — Jayden Struble, defender, St. Sebastiens School
47. Colorado Avalanche — Drew Helleson, defender, U.S. National Development team
48. San Jose Sharks (From Vegas) — Artemi Kniazev, defender, Chicoutimi Saguenéens
49. NY Rangers (from Dallas) — Matthew Robertson, defender, Edmonton Oil Kings
50. Los Angeles Kings (from Columbus — from Vegas — From Montreal) — Samuel Fagemo, forward, Sweden
51. Winnipeg Jets — Simon Lundmark, defender, Sweden
52. Florida Panthers (from Pittsburgh) — Vladislav Kolyachonok, defender, Flint Firebirds
53. Toronto Maple Leafs — Nic Robertson, forward, Peterborough Petes

This is the Maple Leafs’ first pick of the 2019 NHL draft.

54. Detroit Red Wings (from New York Islanders — From Vegas) — Robert Mastrosimone, forward, USHL
55. San Jose Sharks (from Nashville — from New Jersey) — Dillon Hamaliuk, forward, Seattle Thunderbirds
56. Washington Capitals — Brett Leason, forward, Prince Albert Raiders
57. New York Islanders (from Calgary) — Samuel Bolduc, defender, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
58. New York Rangers (from Tampa Bay) — Karl Henriksson, forward, Sweden
59. Minnesota Wild (from Carolina) — Hunter Jones, goalie, Peterborough Petes
60. Detroit Red Wings (from San Jose) — Albert Johansson, defender, Sweden
61. New Jersey Devils (from Boston) — Nikita Okhotyuk, defender, Ottawa 67s
62. St. Louis Blues — Nikita Alexandrov, forward, Charlottetown Islanders

Round 3

63. Colorado (from OTT) — Matthew Steinburg, forward, St. Andrews College
64. Montreal (from LAK) — Mattias Norlinder, defenseman, MODO Hockey
65. Nashville Predators (from New Jersey Devils — From Edmonton Oilers — From Philadelphia Flyers) — Alexander Campbell, forward, Victoria Grizzlies
66. Detroit — Albin Grewe, forward, Djurgårdens IF
67. Buffalo (conditional to PIT) — Erik Portillo, goalie, 
68. NY Rangers — Zachary Jones, defenseman, UMass (Amherst)
69. Florida (from EDM) — John Ludvig, defensemen, Portland Winterhawks
70. New Jersey (from ANA) — Danil Misyul, defenseman, Loko Yaroslavl
71. Tampa Bay Lightning (from VAN) — Hugo Alnefelt, goalie, HV71 J20
72. Philadelphia — Ronald Attard, defensemen, Tri-City Storm

Player of the year in the USHL in 2018-19, had 30 goals, 34 assists in 48 games.

73. Carolina Hurricanes (from MIN) — Patrik Puistola, forward, Tappara
74. Pittsburgh (from ARI — from CHI) — Nathan Legare, forward, Baie-Comeau Drakkar

Scored 45 goals in 68 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.

75. Minnesota (from NSH — from FLA) — Adam Beckman, forward, Spokane Chiefs
76. Arizona — John Farinacci, forward, Dexter School
77. Montreal — Gianni Fairbrother, defenseman, Evertt Silvertips
78. Colorado — Alex Beaucage, forward, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
79. Vegas — Pavel Dorofeyev, forward, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk
80. New Jersey (from DAL) —  Graeme Clarke, forward, Ottawa 67s

81. Florida (from CBJ) —  Cole Schwindt, forward, Mississauga Steelheads
82. New Jersey (from WPG — VKG — SJS — NSH) —  Michael Vukojevic, defenseman, Kitchener Rangers
83. Carolina Hurricanes (from Pittsburgh- From Vegas — From Ottawa) — Anttoni Honka, defenseman, Mikkelin Jukurit

Brother of Julius Honka of the Dallas Stars

84. Toronto — Mikko Kokkonen, defenseman, Mikkelin Jukurit
85. Edmonton (from NYI) — Ilya Konovalov, goalie, Yaroslavl
86. Vegas (from NSH) — Layton Ahac, defenseman, Prince George Cougars
87. Los Angeles (from WSH) — Lukas Parik, goalie, Liberec Jr. 
88. Calgary — Ilya Nikolaev, forward, Yaroslavl 2
89. Tampa Bay — Maxim Cajkovic, forward, Saint John Sea Dogs
90. Carolina — Domenick Fensore, defenseman, U.S. National Development team

The 11th player selected from the USNTDP in 2019

91. Washington (from SJS — NSH — NJD) — Aliaksei Protas, forward, Prince Albert Raiders
92. Boston — Quinn Olson, forward, Okotoks Oilers
93. St. Louis — Colten Ellis, goalie, Rimouski Oceanic

Round 4

94. Ottawa Senators — Viktor Lodin, forward, Sweden
95. Los Angeles Kings — Jordan Spence, defender, Moncton Wildcats
96. New Jersey Devils — Tyce Thompson, forward, Providence College
97. Detroit Red Wings — Ethan Phillips, forward, Sioux Fall Stampade
98. Arizona Coyotes (from Pittsburgh) — Matias Macceli, forward, Dubuque Fighting Saints 
99. Carolina Hurricanes (from New York Rangers — Boston Bruins — Minnesota Wild) — Cade Webber, defender, USHL
100. Edmonton Oilers — Matej Blummel, forward, Waterloo Blackhawks
101. Anaheim Ducks — Henry Thurn, defender, USHL
102. Buffalo Sabres (from Vancouver) — Aaron Huglen, forward, Fargo Force
103. Philadelphia Flyers — Mason Millman, defender, Saginaw Spirit
104. Columbus Blue Jackets — Eric Hjorth, defender, Sweden
105. Chicago Blackhawks — Michal Teply, forward, Czech Republic
106. Florida Panthers — Carter Berger, defender, Victoria Grizzlies
107. Arizona Coyotes — Alexandr Darin, forward
108. San Jose Sharks (from Montreal) — Yegor Spiridonov, forward, Russia
109. Nashville Predators (from Colorado) — Marc Del Gaizo, defender, UMASS
110. Vegas Golden Knights — Ryder Donovan, forward, USHL
111. Dallas Stars — Samuel Sjolund, defender, Sweden
112. New York Rangers (from Columbus) — Hunter Skinner, defender, USHL
113. Winnipeg Jets — Henrik Nikkanen, forward, Finland
114. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Pittsburgh — From Florida) — Dmitri Voronkov, Russia 
115. Toronto Maple Leafs — Mikhail Abramov, forward, Victoriaville Tigers
116. Calgary Flames (from New York Islanders) — Lucas Feuk, forward, Sweden
117. Nashville Predators — Semyon Chystyakov, defender, Russia
118. New Jersey Devils (from Washington) — Case McCarthy, defender, US National Development Team 
119. Los Angeles Kings (from Calgary – Montreal) — Kim Nousianien, defender, Finland
120. Tampa Bay Lightning — Maxwell Crozier, defender, Sioux Falls Stampede
121. Carolina Hurricanes — Tuukka Tieksola, forward, Finland
122. Vancouver Canucks — Ethan Keppen, forward, Flint Firebirds
123. Chicago Blackhawks (from Boston) — Antti Saarela, forward, Finland
124. Toronto Maple Leafs (from St. Louis) — Nicolas Abruzzse, forward, USHL

Round 5

125. Ottawa — Mark Kastelic, forward, Calgary Hitmen
126. Montreal (from LAK) — Jacob Leguerrier, defensemen, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
127. New Jersey — Cole Brady, goalie, Janesville Jets
128. Detroit — Cooper Moore, defenseman, Brunswick Prep
129. New Jersey (from BUF-DET-WSH) — Arseny Gritsyuk, forward, OMSK 2
130. NY Rangers — Leevi Aaltonen, forward, Kalpa Jr. 
131. Montreal (from EDM) — Rhett Pitlick, forward, Chaska
132. Anaheim — Trevor Janicke, forward, Central Illinois 
133. Vancouver — Carson Focht, forward, Calgary Hitmen
134. Winnipeg (from PHI) — Harrison Blaisdell, forward, Chilliwack
135. Vegas (from MIN) — Isaiah Saville, goalie, Tri-City Storm
136. Florida (from CHI — MTL) — Henrik Rybinski, forward, Seattle Thunderbirds
137. Florida — Owen Lindmark, forward, US National Development Team 
138. Montreal (from ARI-CHI-LAK) — Frederik Nissen Dichow, goalie, Vojens
139. Vegas (from MTL) — Marcus Kallionkieli, forward, Sioux City Musketeers
140. Colorado — Sasha Mutala, forward, Tri-City Americans
141. Vegas — Mason Primeau, forward, North Bay Battalion
142. Dallas — Nicholas Porco, forward, Saginaw Spirit
143. Buffalo (from CBJ — DET) — Filip Cederqvist, forward, Vaxjo
144. Winnipeg — Logan Neaton, goalie, Prince George
145. Pittsburgh (from CHI) — Judd Caulfield, forward, US National Development Team 
146. Toronto — Michael Koster, defenseman, Chaska
147. NY Islanders — Reece Newkirk, forward, Portland Winterhawks
148. Nashville — Ethan Haider, goalie, MN Magicians
149. Minnesota (from WSH-MTL) — Matvey Guskov, forward, London Knights
150. Calgary — Joshua Nodler, forward, Fargo Force
151. Arizona (from TBL — CHI) –Aku Raty, forward, Karpat Jr. 
152. Carolina — Kirill Slepets, forward, Yaroslavl 2
153. Washington (from SJS) — Martin Has, defenseman, Tappara Jr. 
154. Boston — Roman Bychkov, defenseman, Yaroslavl 2
155. St. Louis — Keean Washkurak, forward, Mississauga Steelheads

Round 6

156. Vancouver Canucks (from Ottawa) — Arturs Silov, goalie, Latvia 
157. Los Angeles Kings — Braden Doyle, defender, USHL
158. New Jersey Devils — Patrick Moynihan, forward, USHL
159. Detroit Red Wings — Elmer Soderblom, forward, Sweden
160. Buffalo Sabres — Lukas Rousek, forward, Czech Republic
161. New York Rangers — Adam Edstrom, forward, Sweden
162. Edmonton Oilers — Tomas Mazura, forward, Kimball Union Academy
163. Anaheim Ducks — William Francis, defender, USHL
164. San Jose Sharks (from Vancouver) — Timur Ibragimov, forward, Russia
165. Philadelphia Flyers — Egor Serdyuk, forward, Victoriaville Tigers
166. Minnesota Wild — Marshall Warren, defender, US National Development Team 
167. Chicago Blackhawks — Dominic Basse, goalie, Selects Hockey Academy
168. Florida Panthers — Greg Meireles, forward, Kitchener Rangers
169. Philadelphia Flyers (from Arizona) — Roddy Ross, goalie, Camrose Kodiaks
170. Montreal Canadiens — Arsen Khisamutdinov, forward, Russia
171. Colorado Avalanche — Luka Burzan, forward, Brandon Wheat Kings
172. Minnesota Wild (from Vegas) — Nikita Nestrerenko, forward
173. Dallas Stars — Benjamin Brinkman, defender, University of Minnesota
174. Arizona  Coyotes (from Columbus) — Daniel Savunov, forward,
175. Vancouver Canucks (from Winnipeg – From Buffalo) — Karel Plasek, forward, Czech Republic
176. Arizona Coyotes (from Pittsburgh) — Anthony Romano, center, Sioux Fall Stampede
177. Detroit Red Wings (from Toronto – Detroit) Gustav Berglund, defender, Sweden
178. New York Islanders — Felix Bibeau, forward, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 
179. Nashville Predators — Isak Walther, forward, Sweden
180. Vancouver Canucks (from Washington) — Jack Malone, forwards, Youngstown Phantoms
181. Carolina Hurricanes (from Calgary) — Kevin Wall, forward, Chilliwack Chiefs
182. Tampa Bay Lightning — Quinn Schmiemann, defender, Kamloops Blazers
183. Carolina Hurricanes — Blake Murray, forward, Sudbury Wolves
184. San Jose Sharks — Santeri Hatakka, defender, Finland
185. Boston Bruins — Matias Mantykivi, center, Finland
186. Anaheim Ducks — Mathew Hill, forward, Barrie Colts 

Round 7

187. Ottawa — Maxence Guenette, defenseman, Val-d’Or Foreurs
188. Los Angeles — Andre Lee, forward, Sioux Falls Stampede
189. New Jersey — Nikola Pasic, forward, Linkoping Jr. 
190. Detroit — Kirill Tyutyayev, forward, Yekaterinburg 2
191. Detroit (from BUF) — Carter Gylander, forward, Sherwood Park
192. Boston (from NYR) — Jake Schmaltz, forward, Chicago Steel
193. Edmonton — Maxim Denezhkin, forward, Yaroslavl 2
194. Chicago (from ANA) — Cole Moberg, defenseman, Prince George Cougars
195. Vancouver — Aidan Mcdonough, forward, Cedar Rapids Roughriders
196. Philadelphia — Bryce Brodzinski, forward, Blaine
197. Minnesota — Filip Lindberg. goalie, UMass
198. Tampa Bay (from CHI) — Mikhail Shalagin, forward, Spartak 2
199. Florida — Matthew Wedman, forward, Seattle Thunderbirds
200. Arizona — Axel Bergkvist, defenseman, Leksand Jr. 
201. Montreal (from MTL — PHI) — Rafael Harvey-Pinard, forward, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
202. Colorado — Trent Miner, goalie, Vancouver Giants
203. Pittsburgh (from VGK) — Valtteri Puustinen, forward, HPK
204. Toronto (from DAL) — Kalle Loponen, defenseman, Hermes
205. NY Rangers (from CBJ) — Eric Ciccolini, forward, Toronto JC
206. Montreal (from WPG) — Kieran Ruscheinski, defenseman, Calgary Northstars Midget AAA
207. Arizona (from PIT) — Valentin Nussbaumer, forward, Shawinigan Cataractes
208. St. Louis (from TOR) — Vadim Zherenko, goalie, Dynamo Moscow 2
209. NY Islanders — Cole Coskey, forward, Saginaw Spirit
210. Nashville — Juuso Parssinen, forward, TPS Jr. 
211. Pittsburgh (from WSH — SJS) — Santeri Airola, defenseman, Saipa Jr. 
212. Columbus (from CGY-OTT) — Tyler Angle, forward, Windsor Spitfire
213. Tampa Bay — Mckade Webster, forward, Green Bay Gamblers
214. Calgary (from CAR) — Dustin Wolf, goalie, Everett Silvertips
215. Vancouver (from SJS) — Arvid Costmar, forward, Linkoping Jr.
216. Carolina (from BOS-NYR) — Massimo Rizzo, forward, Penticton
217. St. Louis — Jeremy Michel, forward, Val-d’Or Foreurs

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Islanders place Andrew Ladd on waivers

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New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello announced that the team put forward Andrew Ladd on waivers on Thursday, and from the sound of things, it’s unclear if we’ll see Ladd in the NHL again.

That said, Ladd’s $5.5 million AAV doesn’t expire until after 2022-23(!) so it’s possible that this saga may not be over.

For now, the Islanders are putting Ladd on waivers with the plan of assigning him to the AHL. Ladd had been on a conditioning stint while on LTIR as he tries to recover from a torn ACL suffered in March, and Lamoriello said that the Islanders hadn’t seen enough from that conditioning stint to have him resume playing. Setting such a standard would always make sense, really, but especially so with the Islanders humming along with an impressive 13-3-1 record so far in 2019-20.

Ladd’s longer-term future is fuzzy, and Lamoriello didn’t want to speculate about his chances (or lack thereof?) to play in the NHL again.

Newsday’s Andrew Gross clarifies that Ladd won’t need to be taken off LTIR to make this happen, which is relevant considering the whole $5.5M thing.

Ladd’s signing ranks as one of the many cursed 2016 free agent contracts, joined by Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo (the player he essentially replaced for the Islanders), David Backes, Loui Eriksson and more.

To be fair, Ladd had some utility if you looked beyond disappointing numbers for the money at times with the Islanders, but again, it’s hard to get too thrilled about such positives when the price tag was so steep. Still, he had some aptitude, particularly defensively, during his first two seasons for the Islanders, as illustrated by this Hockey Viz heat map:

Looking at Ladd’s contract structure at Cap Friendly, there’s the remote chance that the Islanders might be able to move that $5.5M cap hit (LTIR-bound or not) as the deal goes along. Ladd’s actual salary slips to $4M from 2020-21 through 2022-23, and it’s split up by a $3M signing bonus and $1M base salary each year. Maybe a team hoping to hit the cap floor might be willing to eat that cap hit to inflate their numbers for assets after the signing bonus is already paid, even if that would most realistically be able to happen heading into 2022-23? Perhaps the Islanders could bribe the Seattle expansion franchise to eat that deal, much like Vegas ended up doing with David Clarkson‘s contract?

Ultimately, those details are mostly the concerns of whoever is handling the Islanders’ cap situation in the future, and perhaps other teams hoping to squeeze every ounce of value out of an offseason.

Unfortunately, whether Ladd ever plays for the Islanders (or any other NHL team) again, it’s clear that the Islanders didn’t get much value from signing the former Winnipeg Jets captain.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fabbri finding a home with new opportunity in Detroit

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This season for the Red Wings is about developing youth. There are over 10 players currently on the roster who are 24 years old or younger, so getting the kids up to speed to continue this transition phase is vital if the franchise is to become a playoff team again.

One of those kids is a recent addition to the team — thanks in part to Darren Pang — and a player who was in need of a new opportunity after a couple of tough seasons.

Robby Fabbri left the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues for the Red Wings earlier this month in a trade that sent Jacob De La Rose to St. Louis. He signed a one-year deal with St. Louis in July, but when it was clear he wouldn’t have a regular role in the lineup, he asked to move on. So far, the change has paid off as through three games, the 23-year-old winger has two goals and four points, including two primary assists on Detroit’s last two game-winning goals.

“He’s been great. He’s a playmaker,” said Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin. “He gets the puck and it’s going to someone with a purpose after he’s got it. Adding a guy like that who can make plays and does it a lot, and he’s a crafty guy, he’s been an energy guy for us and a huge addition.”

Entering the 2014 NHL Draft, the Red Wings were interested in Fabbri, who scored 45 goals and recorded 87 points in 58 games with the OHL’s Guelph Storm during his draft year. But when they were on the clock, general manager Ken Holland announced Larkin’s name at pick No. 15. Six spots later, Fabbri went to the Blues.

“He was always dangerous with the puck and he always had the puck on his stick,” Larkin said about playing against Fabbri in their younger days. “He was one of those guys where being from Detroit, he’s from Toronto, you knew who he was and you knew going into the game that it’s Robby Fabbri, he’s going to make plays and he’s going to be a star out there. It’s cool to have that and be in the same locker room with him now and come up through the same draft. We’re pretty familiar with each other through events and just knowing each other through time. I’m excited that he’s here and I think he’s excited that he’s here.”

Fabbri got off to an okay start with the Blues, scoring 29 times in his first 123 games, but two ACL injuries in the same knee derailed the next year-and-a-half of his career. By the time he returned last season, he showed he could still play, but it would remain a process before he’d 100% be back to his old self.

A new team, a new chance. It’s all working out so far as Fabbri continues in a positive direction.

“We’re hoping we can get Robby back up to the speed he was when he first came into the league and he had lots of success,” said Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill after the trade. “I talked to Ken Hitchcock and (Blues head coach) Craig Berube. There’s a belief there’s more in him. There’s opportunity. … [W]e have opportunity here, a clean slate and now he’s got to grab it. We need more scoring, he can potentially provide that, so I look forward to watching him play.”

For Fabbri, putting his injuries in the rearview will help him move forward with his new opportunity and help him be a consistent offensive presence on a Red Wings team hoping to begin a consistent move in the right direction.

“When you’ve been hurt with the massive injuries he’s been hurt with sometimes you can get a little bit cautious, so it takes a little bit of time to get away from that,” said Blashill. “I’m hoping he can play as hard as he has in the past and he can give [us] scoring depth.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Book excerpt from Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life

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The NHL on NBC’s Eddie Olczyk was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in Aug. 2017 and after a long journey was deemed cancer-free seven months later. Since beating cancer, the former player and current analyst has been dedicated to be an advocate for those fighting the disease and their families.

Olczyk was recently named the NHL Hockey Fights Cancer Ambassador for the 2019-20 season and his new book “Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life” tells the story of his fight.

***

On February 21, at precisely 9:02 am, I was unhooked from my final chemo treatment. What a relief! It was incredible to be finally done — epic. I was done after six months. I had a bunch of family and friends call and congratulate me and I received so many texts from the hockey and horse racing worlds with exclamation points. Diana brought me a bouquet of helium balloons shaped like horses and dogs with the words You Did It. She almost flew away because of all the balloons. 

After that last round of chemo, I got rid of anything that reminded me of what I had gone through during those treatments—clothes, pillows, blankets. Anything that reeked of chemo, I disposed of. That felt really good. The week before I went to the mall and went on a shopping spree. I was about to embark on the rest of my life and the rest of my career. 

It was around this time that Illinois congressman Mike Quigley spoke on the House floor and addressed my situation. He had a Blackhawks jersey with my name and number brought in for display and talked about my battle and what I had been doing to raise awareness about the need for earlier screenings and continued research to find a cure. He described me as a native son of Chicago who has exemplified the heart, grit, and the character of the city we both call home. 

“Like many others who have faced cancer, he was concerned that he was letting people down and he began to question his mortality, but as he went through treatment and reflected on this ordeal Eddie started to recognize that it was okay to be scared,” Congressman Quigley said. “He knows it’s important to emphasize that there’s nothing wrong with people getting colonoscopies at an earlier age. He knows that if he can help just one individual get a checkup sooner, he will feel like his battle with cancer was worth it. To Eddie and to all fighting cancer, stay strong and know we’re with you.” 

I was very grateful for him doing that. What an honor.

On March 8 I had the scan and the next day while traveling with the team to Boston, I asked Dr. Michael Terry, the Blackhawks team physician, if he had any update. He had been part of my illness from the start; I call him the captain of my doctors. 

He had access to the scan on his iPhone. He looked at me and said, “Edzo, from what I can see, it looks really clean.” 

I gave him a huge hug because I’d just dodged a huge bullet. After getting emotional, I took a couple of deep breaths. I wanted to yell something like what most hockey players do after they score a goal, but I was just overcome thinking about so much—my family, my kids, my friends. I just couldn’t wait to tell Diana that it looked good, but we still had to wait to hear from Dr. Mulcahy. 

It was a relief and a half that it was all gone. Thank God. I was so thankful for the physicians and the team that I had and the support I had. It’s always going to be with me, but I felt okay. We had come a long way since that first meeting with Dr. Mulcahy. Yes, it was absolute hell for six months. Going through the chemo was the most difficult part because there was a chance, God forbid, I’d have to continue with more treatment. 

I endured a lot and tackled it straight on and felt like I had conquered it. Now I had to recover and rid myself of all this medicine and tell my story to encourage people to go in for checkups and get colonoscopies. This is why we tried to be so open and outgoing without being overbearing. If you don’t feel good or you get to the age of 45, you’ve got to get checked, whether you have a history of cancer in your family or not. 

I called Diana after we deplaned and told her the news and we subsequently gave the heads-up to the kids. 

Four days later, at 5:07 pm, Dr. Mulcahy called and told me I was cancer-free. Diana was there with me and we didn’t do anything special other than maybe hug a little tighter when I got back home. It was like, “We did it. Let’s get as far away from this as we can.” 

On March 22, just before the start of the second period of a game at the United Center between the Hawks and the Vancouver Canucks, I went back on the air with Pat Foley to update people on my condition. He told the audience that because of what I had gone through, he had gotten a colonoscopy, as had Troy Murray and a bunch of Pat’s friends. He said my ability to go public with what I had gone through was tremendously inspirational and also heroic, because anybody who has gone through chemotherapy knows how devastating a situation that can be. 

Happily, I told everyone I was cancer-free. I reiterated as I had throughout my battle that it was a team effort, including the doctors, the entire Hawks organization, the National Hockey League, the people I worked with on TV, my family, my wife, my children, and my friends. If it wasn’t for my family, there was no way I could have gone through this. We all beat this. And I said I had done enough crying to last me a lifetime. 

Pat was so pumped. “You beat cancer, baby!” he exclaimed. 

Now that I was publicly revealing I was cancer-free, I wanted to reinforce to people who were battling cancer or knew someone going through it that they are not weak individuals. My message for them was to stay strong, believe they are tough, and believe they will beat it. I ended the interview by saying if I could inspire one person to stay away from this by going for a colonoscopy, then I guess it was well worth it. It tests your will to live. 

I did a bunch of interviews afterward, just as I had done since I went public with my cancer battle, so it was kind of like going full circle. It wasn’t easy but it’s a lot less stressful when you’re telling them the happy ending of the story. Sharing that news was such a relief. 

I subsequently underwent the hernia surgery in which they put an 8″x10″ piece of mesh in my stomach to seal it up and fix it. In a way, it also felt like the final touch on my long journey.

This excerpt from Eddie Olczyk: Beating the Odds in Hockey and in Life by Eddie Olczyk with Perry Lefko is printed with the permission of Triumph Books.  For more information and to order a copy, please visit www.triumphbooks.com/EddieOlczyk.

Bolt from the blueline: Avs rookie Makar off to flying start

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DENVER — Cale Makar is on the move these days – into his own place and into hallowed hockey territory. He’s just getting settled in, too.

The Colorado Avalanche rookie became only the fourth defenseman in NHL history to record 18 points through his first 18 career regular-season games. His teammates maintain that’s due to his ability to see the ice with a veteran’s vision and rarely making the same mistake twice.

His own appraisal is much more subdued.

”I still feel like a rookie,” said Makar, who moved out of teammate Matt Calvert‘s house this year to achieve another level of independence. ”I still have lots to learn.”

Those are precisely the words fellow defenseman Ian Cole wants to hear from the 21-year-old who was drafted with the fourth overall pick in 2017 and received his first taste of NHL action last spring in the playoffs.

”But what’s he going to say? ‘Man, am I good!”’ Cole cracked.

The numbers and early accolades do tend to suggest that, though. Makar was named the third star by the league for the week ending Nov. 10.

On Tuesday night, he scored his fifth goal of the season in a 4-0 win at Winnipeg. It was a game in which goaltender Adam Werner stepped in after starter Pavel Francouz was hurt after 31 seconds. All Werner did was turn in a 40-save shutout in his unexpected NHL debut.

It could be another injury for the Avalanche to weather in what’s already been a banged-up season. They’re currently without captain Gabriel Landeskog, forward Mikko Rantanen, goaltender Philipp Grubauer, forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and defenseman Nikita Zadorov.

”It’s tough,” said Makar, who has 13 assists this season. ”At the end of the day, we have so much depth.”

Makar has given Colorado a big scoring boost.

A notable stat: The last rookie defenseman with more points than Makar through their first 18 regular-season games was Hall of Famer Larry Murphy, who had 19 for Los Angeles in 1980-81. The two other NHL blueliners with more points through 18 games were Hall of Famers Hap Day (21 points with the Toronto St. Patricks in 1924-25) and Harry Cameron (20 with the Toronto Arenas in 1917-18), according to research from NHL Stats.

Another noteworthy stat: Makar’s nine assists in October set an Avalanche record for a rookie defenseman in a month.

And another: His five straight games with at least a point to kick off the season matched the Avalanche record (since 1995-96) for the longest stretch to begin a career.

”He’s a guy that’s just so naturally talented,” Cole said. ”His maturity level is well beyond his years. He’s very analytical in the sense that when he sees something, we can talk through something and you can almost see him learning. He can catalog that.

”If I’m right in that assessment, he’s going to be very, very good very quickly and for a very long time.”

Last April, Makar signed an entry contract with Colorado after his Frozen Four run with UMass came to an end (he won the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top NCAA hockey player).

His first contest in an Avs sweater was Game 3 against the Western Conference’s top seed, Calgary. He made an immediate impact by becoming the first defenseman in league history to score a goal while making his NHL debut in the playoffs. Makar ended up with one goal and five assists in the postseason.

That jumpstarted his career. But it doesn’t lessen his learning curve, he maintained, through his first regular season.

”It’s just adjusting – whether it’s to the lifestyle or just the game schedule. Everything is different here,” said Makar, whose new place is within walking distance of most of his teammates. ”You have a lot more free time. It’s filling those times with useful stuff that’s going to help you. … It’s your job to worry about this.”

A little bit ago, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar sat down with his young defenseman after not seeing quite the same version of Makar he saw in the playoffs. They went over a few things – using his skating to work his way out of tough situations inside the ”D” zone and taking off if he sees openings in the neutral zone.

No need to tell him twice.

”He’s really implemented it in his game, and really bounced back in a hurry,” Bednar said. ”I feel really comfortable with where his game’s at.”