Surrey’s Luka Burzan in action with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. (Photo: Brandi Pollock/Wheat Kings)

HOCKEY

Rocky Mountain high: Surrey’s Burzan picked in NHL draft by Colorado Avalanche

Guildford-raised forward was out for a drive when he heard the news

** This story has been updated

It took a year longer than he wanted, but Surrey’s Luka Burzan has been selected in the NHL Entry Draft.

At Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on Saturday (June 22), in the sixth round of the draft, the Guildford-raised forward was picked 171st overall by Colorado Avalanche.

At that very moment, Burzan was out for a drive in Kelowna, not far from the home where he now lives.

“I was watching the draft on TV with my dad and brother, and once it got to the sixth round I was a bit nervous, so I went for a drive,” Burzan said Monday.

“A bit later my cousin called me and told me I got picked. I was five minutes from my house, so I drove back there. I was really happy.”

Burzan, 19, has spent the last three seasons in the Western Hockey League with Brandon Wheat Kings and Moose Jaw Warriors.

Heading into the NHL Entry Draft a year ago, Burzan was ranked 58th by the International Scouting Service (ISS), and NHL Central Skating had him pegged 91st among North American skaters.

But no team picked him in June of 2018, giving Burzan plenty of motivation to show his stuff over the past hockey season with the Wheat Kings.

• RELATED STORY: Not picked in NHL Entry Draft, Surrey’s Burzan keen to prove pro teams wrong.

And so, in the 2018-19 year, the six-foot-one Burzan scored 78 points (40 goals, 38 assists) in 68 games for Brandon.

On Monday morning, Burzan was at the airport in Vancouver waiting to board a flight for Denver and a development camp hosted by the Avalanche.

“They haven’t told me anything about a plan (for next hockey season), but I’ll probably be back in Brandon to start,” Burzan said.

“They’ll be a good team (in Colorado), with a lot of good players,” he added, “and I’m excited to be in that mix and do whatever it takes to be there.”

• RELATED: Quinn Hughes lobbied Canucks to move up and draft brother.

It’s been a good week for Burzan, who on Wednesday was among 43 players invited to wear the Maple Leaf at Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp, held from July 27 to Aug. 4 in Plymouth, Mich.

CLICK HERE to see the full camp roster.

Also named to that camp was Bowen Byram, the Vancouver Giants defenceman picked fourth overall by the Avalanche.

Burzan and Byram were among 28 WHL players selected at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver. Giants goaltender Trent Miner was also picked by the Avalanche (202nd overall, seventh round).

“Since the 1967 NHL Amateur Draft,” a WHL press release noted, “a total of 2,048 players have been selected out of the WHL, including 315 first-round selections. Of the 71 players selected across the Canadian Hockey League at the 2019 NHL Draft, 28 came from the WHL.”

• RELATED: NHL Draft Day 2: Canucks load up on prospects, Subban dealt to Devils.

Meantime, the Vancouver Canucks picked nine players in the draft held at their home arena.

At 10th overall, the local NHL club grabbed Russian right-winger Vasily Podkolzin, followed by left-winger Nils Hoglander (40th overall), left wing Ethan Keppen (122nd), centre Carson Focht (133rd), goalie Arturs Silovs (156th), right wing Karel Plasek (175th), right wing Jack Malone (180th), left wing Aidan Mcdonough (195th) and centre Arvid Costmar (215th).

Podkolzin, 17, finished the season playing for Neva St. Petersburg in Russia’s second league, recording five points (2-3-5) in 14 games. He captained Team Russia to a bronze medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, notching 11 points (8-3-11) in five games, leading the tournament in goals. He also wore the ‘C’ at the 2019 Under-18 World Championship, posting four points (1-3-4) in seven games to help Russia earn a silver medal.

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