Evan Campbell made Langley Rivermen history on Sunday afternoon as the Port Coquitlam native had his name called in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey. The Edmonton Oilers selected Campbell with the 128th pick in the fifth round and it marked the first time in franchise history that a Rivermen player was drafted into the National Hockey League. The news came as a complete surprise to him to say the least.
“I was at a family barbecue and was watching the draft on TV throughout the day and then turned it off when it came time to eat. A few minutes past and all of a sudden my cell phone blew up and had lots of people telling me I was drafted by the Oilers,” said Campbell.
“It came as a complete shock to me, I really had no idea this was going to happen and it still hasn’t really sunk in. I am pretty much speechless right now and all I can say is that it is a dream come true and cannot describe the feeling right now”.
Campbell is coming off a career year with the Rivermen as the hulking centre put up 20 goals and 46 assists in 51 games. His combination of size, speed, grit, and skill was hard to pass up at the NHL level and his Head Coach and General Manager Bobby Henderson could not be more proud,
“This is a big day in our organization having our first player drafted into the NHL. This is something Evan deserves and it is nice to see all the hard work he put into last season pay off. Edmonton is an exciting destination for him as they have a lot of good young players on the roster and I believe he will make the most of the opportunity,” said Henderson.
Campbell will take the next couple of days to sit back and take it all in before he takes off to Edmonton on Wednesday for a week-long development camp. The 20-year-old has kept a close eye on the Oilers over the past few seasons as the talent they have is hard to ignore. He believes they are on the right track to becoming an elite team in the NHL,
“I think the Oilers franchise is going to be a powerhouse in the league for many years. Just looking at some of the players they have on the team now, it only makes me want to work harder than I ever have before to try and crack the team and play with those guys one day,” Campbell continued.
Sore from continuously pinching himself in disbelief, Campbell was quick to point out the people who have helped him along the way in his career to get to this point,
“My mom, uncle, and step-dad are huge reasons why this has all happened. Without the support from them a day like this would not be possible. I also cannot say enough about the Rivermen organization. It was a privilege to put on that sweater every game and I definitely owe the Henderson family and the entire organization a lot for all they have done for me in the past two years”.
As for being the first ever player from the Rivermen to be drafted into the NHL, Campbell could not help but chuckle at the thought of his name going down into the record books,
“It truly is an honour and was something I never thought would happen in my wildest dreams. There will be plenty more draft picks to come from the Rivermen organization as there are some bright young stars on the roster for next year, but being the first to get drafted is something I will never forget,” Campbell finished.
Campbell is off to Umass-Lowell next season on a scholarship where he will play his freshman year with the River hawks.