It was a day Ryan McGregor had thought about since he first laced up his skates as a young kid in Burlington, and it couldn’t have gone any better for the Sarnia Sting forward.
For as long as he can remember, it was McGregor’s dream to be drafted into the NHL, and when he found out it was his childhood team that selected him in the sixth round, safe to say he was ecstatic.
“I was hoping I’d get drafted, but you never really know what’s going to happen come draft day. Some guys get taken higher, and some slide down and down get drafted at all,” he says. “I was relieved when I finally heard my name called, you work so hard all year, and you’ve been working towards this point for years.
“That fact that it was the Leafs who drafted me makes it all the more special.”
It wasn’t just special for McGregor, it was special for his whole family.
He didn’t travel to Chicago for the draft, instead the McGregor’s held a little draft party of their own. Which made the draft celebrations that much more memorable.
“There was probably about 15 people at our house, and I think everyone of them are Leafs fans. When I got the call from Toronto it was incredible, everyone went insane and started cheering,” says McGregor. “Just getting drafted in the first place was incredible, and then going to a team that all your family and friends love is pretty amazing.”
He says his father feared the worst heading into draft weekend.
“My dad was a bit anxious to see where I’d get drafted, he’s a huge Leafs fan so I know he wouldn’t have been nearly as happy if I went to Montreal or somewhere like that,” he says. “Of course he’d still be proud, but I think he’s a little happier to see Toronto draft me.”
Growing up in a household of Toronto fans, the apple, or in this case maple leaf, doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“They were my team growing up, I’ve been to quite a few games at the Air Canada Centre,” says McGregor. “The playoffs were so crazy this year, especially at our house, we’d have lots of people over for all the games.”
He also braved the cold on when the Maple Leafs took on the Detroit Red Wings at the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.
The draft process can be a long one for potential NHL prospects, overall McGregor says he enjoyed the experience but is happy to put it behind him.
“It was a very exciting process, it’s also a bit stressful, it is a nice feeling know that it’s over with, I don’t have that stress,” says McGregor. “I’m a Maple Leafs prospect now and that’s who I’m working towards playing for.”
McGregor says the Maple Leafs have mailed him his draft jersey, and although he’s looking forward to its arrival, he has plenty of blue and white to wear in the meantime.
“It hasn’t arrived yet, I’m really excited for it to come, but I also have about six or seven Leafs jerseys at home, but this one is a bit more special,” he says.
What’s up now for the recently drafted McGregor? He’ll head to Toronto’s development camp in early July with hopes of being invited to the team’s rookie tournament in the fall.
In the past, the Maple Leafs have played their rookie tournament at London’s Budweiser Gardens. This year’s installment will bet at Ricoh Coliseum, home to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.