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Late selection left Canadiens' prospect Primeau with a chip on his shoulder

From seventh-round pick to college star, Cayden Primeau is aiming for WJC starting role and then dad’s NHL path.

Cayden Primeau was just six years old when his father, Keith, played his 909th and final NHL game, Oct. 28, 2005. One month later, Keith’s younger brother, Wayne, was part of the package that the Boston Bruins received when they traded franchise center Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks.

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Uncle Wayne’s new home set Cayden’s hockey development path in motion. “I went to visit him when I was younger and fell in love with Boston,” said the 6-foot-3, 181-pound netminder. “As soon as I realized that college hockey was a thing, I knew I wanted to go to Boston.”

The city loved Primeau right back. As a freshman at Northeastern, he quickly moved into the team’s starting role. In February, he captured the Eberly Trophy as the top goaltender in the Beanpot tournament when the Huskies defeated Boston University 5-2 to capture the school’s first title in 30 years. With a 1.92 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in 34 appearances, Primeau finished his rookie season as Hockey East’s top netminder.

It was a gargantuan step forward for a player who had to wait until the Montreal Canadiens made a last-minute trade with the Philadelphia Flyers to select him in the seventh round, 199th overall, in the 2017 draft. Primeau says the late selection didn’t leave him with a chip on his shoulder. “I’ve been telling everyone that I could have gone second, third, sixth, seventh,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. You’re just part of the Montreal organization. I’m proud of that, and I’m extremely honored that they traded to get me. I’m not really trying to prove anyone wrong, just trying to prove them right.”

At the World Junior Summer Showcase in Kamloops, B.C., Primeau made a solid case for his inclusion on Team USA’s WJC roster this December. In fact, the starting job appears within his grasp. “The coaching staff and everyone at Northeastern really believed in me, and I just gained confidence over the year,” Primeau said. “I’m trying to build off that now.”

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This story appears in the Prospects Unlimited 2018 issue of The Hockey News magazine.

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