Kitchener Rangers defenseman, Michael Vukojevic was the first Blueshirt chosen in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft when he was selected in the 3rd round, 82nd overall by the New Jersey Devils. Below, Michael provides you with his experience in Vancouver at the 2019 NHL Draft.
I showed up in Vancouver a few days before the draft, and that’s when it all started to kick in. It was the first time I had been in Vancouver and man was it beautiful. Looking out my window at the hotel, I could see the mountains, buildings, and ocean. Seeing all that in one view, was something special and really surreal.
The next day me my brother and sister rented bikes for about three hours. We biked around Stanley Park just taking everything in while trying to keep my mind off of the draft.
I think it was good. I got there early to take my mind off things and enjoy time with my family. To be honest, I didn’t really think about the draft until I was sitting in my seat.
I had done everything I can leading up to it. There is no hockey played this weekend and whatever happens, happens. On night one, every time I heard a friend’s name called I was so happy for them. I am so proud of all them.
Now it’s day 2. So there I was sitting in my seat, as nervous as I had ever been. I was getting really anxious and just wanted to get out of my seat already. Leading up to my pick I all I kept thinking was Uh oh, This round is almost ending, when will I go? Then I looked up, and New Jersey called my name. It was the best moment of my life. All the nerves and mixed feelings just went away. Just such a happy moment. I reached over and hugged my whole family and my billets. To be able to share this moment with all of them and feel their hugs was the best moment. Knowing all my hard work has paid off made me feel so proud and accomplished. I had so much relief. As soon as I got picked, I tried to keep my cool, but my mom was pretty emotional, which made me break down. She told me she loved me, and she was proud of me. That was the best thing out of all of it, to hear my mom tell me she was proud made it all worth it.
Now I know I smile a lot, to begin with, but in this scenario, I don’t think I ever stopped smiling. They even mentioned that in the media interviews after. They said I was one of the happiest guys.
As soon as I got a chance to look at my phone I had about 400 messages, my phone was blowing up, The team all messaged me to say congratulations, and I couldn’t have felt more loved.
Finally, another great moment for me was when Greg’s name was called. I remember I was standing in the suite and all of a sudden I looked up and who do I see get their name called GREG! It was so amazing to see him get his name called after all the hard work and effort he has put in. He deserves it.
I am so incredibly happy and honoured to be drafted by such an incredible organization like the New Jersey Devils.
Now that the draft is all said and done, I have an opportunity, and I need to work harder than I have ever worked before. They just opened the for me. Now I just have to work my way through.