Hounds centres are plucked  

Eric Young/Saginaw Spirit
Soo Greyhounds centre Tanner Dickinson (right) and Saginaw’s D.J. Busdeker focus on the play during OHL action at Dow Event Center in Saginaw.

A few days ago, Tanner Dickinson said he didn’t plan on following each and every pick made in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He wasn’t kidding.

It took a congratulatory text message from Soo Greyhounds teammate Cole MacKay on Wednesday for Dickinson to learn he’d been selected.

The St. Louis Blues chose the Perrysburg, Ohio, native in the fourth round (No. 119 overall) of the two-day draft, which began with Round 1 on Tuesday night.

Meantime, fellow Hounds centre Rory Kerins was taken in Round No. 6 (174th overall) by the Calgary Flames.

“I’m very excited and very happy,” said Dickinson, who, through hard work, has grown considerably in recent months.

He now stands a shade over six-feet tall, while weighing in at 169 pounds. The 18-year-old (2002 birth year) player weighed 145 when the Ontario Hockey League season was halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When contacted on Wednesday, Dickinson again spoke of “trying not to focus too much” on the draft.

He had been following the selections on the NHL Network but, along with some family members, stepped away from the television. After MacKay, a Greyhounds veteran, texted him, Dickinson received text messages from a couple of his former teammates with the Belle Tire Under-18 team.

Rated No. 67 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, Dickinson was welcomed to the Blues by scout Ian MacLellan.

St. Louis “congratulated me and let me know not to take my foot off the gas,” said Dickinson, who played in 64 games as a Hounds rookie, producing nine goals and 31 assists (second among all OHL rookies), while posting a plus-minus of minus-12.

He’s considered a player with impressive speed, vision and play-making ability.

Kerins used the word “awesome” to describe how he felt on Wednesday.

“I was a Calgary Flames fan growing up,” said the 18-year-old (2002 birth year) Kerins, a five-foot-11, 185-pounder.

Rated No. 72 among North American skaters before the draft, Kerins admitted he was growing anxious waiting for his name to be called.

“I was getting a little nervous, but at the end of the day my goal isn’t to get drafted into the NHL, it’s to play in the NHL.”

The Caledon, Ont., native was chosen the Greyhounds team MVP for the 2019-20 season, after notching 30 goals, 29 assists and a plus-minus of plus-2 in 64 games. He’s considered a player with superior intelligence and skill. Asked if he felt he should have been chosen earlier, Kerins said yes.

“I think I compare to many of the players who had already been drafted,” he added. “But it was out of my control. I’m happy with where I landed.”

Flames general manager Brad Treliving told Kerins the organization was “extremely happy with where they got me. He also told me they were fist-pumping in the room when they chose me.”

Dickinson and Kerins joined Ryan O’Rourke (second round to Minnesota) and Jaromir Pytlik (fourth round to New Jersey) as the only Soo players chosen.

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