Cody Donaghey wasn't selected at the NHL Entry Draft, but the 18-year-old from St. John's was invited to several NHL team summer development camps. He settled on the Toronto Maple Leafs, his favourite team growing up.
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The way Cody Donaghey is looking at it, not being selected in last weekend’s National Hockey League Entry Draft was but a pothole on the road that is his hockey career, not a sinkhole that will swallow him up.
“Yeah, it sucks to be there and not have your name called out, but I got to experience everything about the draft except hearing my name. So for me, it was actually pretty good,” said Donaghey, the St. John’s native and defenceman for the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts who attended the draft at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center in person.
“It turned out OK.”
That’s because any feeling of not being wanted didn’t last too long. At the conclusion of the draft, a number of NHL clubs immediately contacted Donaghey’s agent, Alain Roy, with invitations to bring the 18-year-old to their summer development camps. After considering offers “from four or five teams,” Roy and Donaghey narrowed their choices down to the San Jose Sharks and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and eventually settled on the latter.
It would be easy to suggest that Donaghey, a big Leafs’ fan, was swayed by the lure of his favourite team, but the compelling factor in his decision was a most practical one. Besides getting an invitation to the Leafs’ summer development camp, beginning Monday in Toronto, he’s also been promised a spot at their pre-season rookie camp in September and on their roster for a four-team rookie tournament to be held in London, Ont., Sept, 13-16.
“So that’s two chances for them to look at me and who knows, depending what happens in September, I could even get invited to the main camp,” said Donaghey.
“For me, it was the best offer, and not just because of how I feel about the Leafs.”
Prior to the draft, Donaghey was ranked 150th overall among North American forwards and defenceman by NHL Central Scouting, an improvement of over 20 spots from his place on CSS’s mid-term list. Still, that was far from an assurance that he would be among the 210 players selected in the draft, because Europeans and goalies had to be factored in, too.
Donaghey could do the math, too, and admitted he was “iffy” about attending the draft, even though he sensed interest — he had pre-draft interviews or conversations with representatives of 17 NHL teams over the past year
“But my coach (former NHL defenceman Phillipe Boucher, who is also the Remparts’ general manager) and my agent had been talking to people from different (NHL) teams and they both had good feelings about me being drafted,” said Donaghey, who led all Remparts rearguards in scoring last season with 38 points on nine goals and 29 assists.
“So I went to Philadelphia. It didn’t work out the way I wanted, but that’s all I can do. I’m not devastated. I’ll just use it as extra motivation for next season, which is going to be a big one. I’ll turn it into something positive.”
This was going to be a big season for Donaghey, no matter what. The Remparts will be hosting the 2015 Memorial Cup major junior championship, which brings a lot of attention to competing players, especially those in key roles like the six-foot-one, 185-pound Donaghey, who has a feature role on Quebec’s power play.
“I know nothing is going to be given to be me. I’ll have to work hard and earn it, but that’s exactly what I plan to do, plus I’m hoping I’m going to be able to take on more of a leadership role on the team, too,” he said of the Remparts, whose captain is another St. John’s native, Kurt Etchegary.
“I have a lot to look forward to, so I’m not looking back at what did or didn’t happen for me.”