Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lernout and family say 'merci' to Habs

Winnipeg D-man has French-Canadian in blood

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PHILADELPHIA -- It was a big day for Winnipeg's Brett Lernout, the third of three Manitobans selected at the NHL Draft.

And his family.

The 18-year-old defenceman from the Swift Current Broncos was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round on Saturday, 73rd overall.

Lernout's mother's side of the family is French-Canadian (his mom Jackie's maiden name is Bohemier), so you can imagine how that went over.

"It's a dream come true," Lernout, the 6-4 blue-liner, said.

"My family's really excited with the French-Canadian background."

Lernout chose not to attend the draft.

He said his agent had alerted him a pick in the fourth or fifth round was likely but then he called on Saturday morning with congratulations.

"I thought, 'Oh-oh,' but he was only calling to congratulate me," Lernout said. "I hadn't seen it pop up on the screen yet. I hadn't been paying that much attention so early in the draft."

Lernout, who excelled at the scouting combine's weight-lifting tests in late May, had an inkling the Habs were interested.

"They seemed quite interested there so I had the idea I might go there," he said.

Even better, the Habs traded up in the third round with Phoenix to select him.

"That does feel really good," Lernout said.

-- -- --

A good many late-round draft picks don't bother attending the proceedings. Many simply can't stand the stress, especially when they're not sure they'll be picked.

But Matt Ustaski, selected by the Winnipeg Jets in Saturday's seventh round, 192nd overall, just had a feeling, and came to Philadelphia from his Chicago-area home.

"I don't know. Maybe I just had a feeling," Ustaski said. "I know I'm a bit of an older guy, 20 already. I just had a feeling I'd get picked today. I'm glad I came.

"A little nervous. Just good to see my name up on the board."

Ustaski will go to University of Wisconsin this fall. They like his size, as do the Jets.

"I'm 6-6, around 225, so I like to use my big body and I skate pretty well for my size," he said. "I'm a centre, good in the faceoff dot as well, and I can create opportunities off that."

-- -- --

Is it some form of payback?

The connect may be weak, but in the seventh round of the draft, just like last year, a player was selected who went unsigned after his first draft.

Last year, the Jets chose defenceman Brenden Kichton, who had been picked in 2011 but not signed by the New York Islanders.

Saturday, the Islanders chose Lukas Sutter, who had been chosen by the Jets in the second round of 2012. The Jets did not to sign Sutter.

-- -- --

In a somewhat unusual move, the Jets chose two 20-year-olds among their seven selections at this year's draft.

Forwards C.J. Franklin and Matt Ustraski are both past their 20th birthdays and have been unselected through two drafts already.

"There are different time frames for people to turn pro," said Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. "It's all going to be about their development moving forward whether they're 17, 18... again, you factor those things into the equation, but it's all about creating depth within your organization."

Franklin will go to University of Minnesota, Mankato and Ustraski is headed to Wisconsin. If they stay in school, the Jets will retain their rights for up to four years.

On the subject of age, Winnipeg's sixth-round pick, 17-year-old Russian Pavel Kraskovsky, was eligible for this draft by just five days, born Sept. 11, 1996.

-- -- --

Cheveldayoff indicated Saturday winger Devin Setoguchi may not be in the team's future plans.

That's not a surprise.

Setoguchi will be an unrestricted free agent as of Tuesday after a disappointing 11-goal season.

"I haven't reached out to Setoguchi's agent yet but the other agents (of free-agent Jets), I have had some form of conversation with," the GM said.

-- -- --

The Jets made two official trades on Saturday, but they probably weren't what some fans were hoping for.

Winnipeg traded its 159th pick and the rights to pending free agent goalie Eddie Pasquale to Washington for the 164th (Pavel Kraskovsky) and 192nd (Matt Ustaski) picks and Washington's seventh-round pick next year.

As well, Winnipeg sent its 189th pick to Ottawa for the Sens' sixth-round pick next year.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2014 B2

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