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NHL Bloodlines Run Deep Among NHL Draft-Eligible Americans

06/19/2017, 3:30pm MDT
By Greg Bates

Callan Foote, Josh Norris, Dram Rymsha Lean On Father's NHL Experiences

When Colorado native Callan Foote hears his name called, possibly early in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft on Friday (June 23), among those he will share the special the moment with is his biggest supporter, his dad, Adam.

The elder Foote knows what his son will be experiencing. Before enjoying a 19-year NHL career that included Stanley Cup titles in 1996 and 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche, he himself was an 18-year-old whose own NHL Draft experience resulted in being selected 22nd overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989.

“He’s been awesome to have on my side,” said Callan Foote, a defenseman just like his dad, who put up 57 points (six goals, 51 assists) in 71 games last season. “He’s been through pretty much the same exact thing as I’m going through right now. He just tells me to have fun and enjoy it and it only happens once."

NHL Central Scouting ranks the younger Foote as the 12th best skating prospect, so expectations are that his name will be announced early when the crowds gather in Chicago for this year’s NHL Draft. His won’t be the only familiar last named called, however, as the family bloodlines run deep among this year’s draft-eligible American players.

Other Americans among the top 150 North American skaters whose fathers played in the league include:

  • Josh Norris, rated No. 34, whose dad, Dwayne, was a seventh-round pick by the Nordiques in 1990.
  • Reilly Walsh, rated No. 60, whose dad, Mike, went undrafted but had stints with the New York Islanders in the late 1980s.
  • Drake Rymsha, rated No. 118, whose dad, Andrew, was a fourth-pick of the St. Louis Blues in 1987.
  • Cayden Primeau, rated No. 7 goaltender, whose dad, Keith, was the third overall pick by the Detroit Red Wings in 1990. Cayden’s uncle, Wayne, was picked No. 17 by the Buffalo Sabres in 1994.

“The few of us that are going to get drafted this year, we’re very fortunate to have the background and the knowledge of our fathers,” Foote said. “It’s pretty cool to see the second lineage go through.”

The dads have offered their sons unwavering support and been there every step of the way. The advice they offer has been invaluable, the players said.

“Just go in with a positive attitude and hope things end up for the best,” said Drake Rymsha, a center who participated in the 2016 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game. “He was a professional hockey player for about 12 years. He molded me, taught me how to be a pro and showed me what it takes on and off the ice. I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for my career.”


Cayden Primeau in action at 2016 CCM/USA Hockey AAPG

Josh Norris, who spent the last two seasons as a member of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Mich., has taken so much hockey knowledge from his dad, who played professionally for 15 seasons.

“I grew up watching him, and he was my idol,” said Norris, who collected 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists) in 61 games a season ago. “I think the biggest things that I took from what he taught me are probably just having a good work ethic, maintaining good habits, staying positive in the way you approach things and building leadership skills.”

Foote, Norris and Rymsha — who are all 18 years old — will all be traveling to Chicago to attend the draft. Norris will be joined by his parents and two brothers, along with 40 to 50 family and friends.

“Family’s a big part of my life, and I appreciate all the work that they’ve put in for me to support me for the past 16 or 17 years, and obviously I wouldn’t be at this point if it wasn’t for them,” Norris said.


Josh Norris skating at the 2016 CCM/USA Hockey AAPG

Helping Team USA win gold at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship was a huge moment in Norris’ young hockey career. He’s looking forward to another important milestone with the draft.

“It’s something that I’ve looked forward to for a long time,” he said. “You work for this your whole life. I know it’s just a day, but it’s definitely something that if things go right, I’ll be able to celebrate with my family and friends.”

Foote feels like it might be an emotional moment for him and his dad when his name is called.

“I’ve heard from teammates it’s kind of a shock to hear your name,” Foote said. “I don’t know how I’m going to feel, and I think we’re just going to wait and see how it goes. I’m looking forward to that experience and I’m very excited for it."

Getting drafted will mean everything to Rymsha, who broke his femur during the 2015-16 season and bounced back strong this past year. It will be a big moment when he gets selected.

“It will be pretty emotional with everything I’ve gone through with last year and everything that’s been thrown at me in my short career,” he said.

The moment will be even more special with his dad by his side.

“To hopefully experience what he experienced, it will be a dream come true,” Rymsha said. “Ever since I was seven years old I’ve been watching the Draft, and every year I tell myself I want to hear my name called like he did. It will be a great moment to share with him.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

2016 CCM/USA Hockey AAPG

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