OTTAWA – Even though it was one the best nights of Greg Nemisz’s life, he couldn’t help but think of some of the sadness he’d experienced in the past few months.
The Calgary Flames selected the Windsor Spitfires power forward with the 25th pick at the NHL draft on Friday night. That’s the same team who once drafted his former Spitfires teammate Mickey Renaud, who collapsed suddenly and died earlier this year.
Nemisz is pleased to be able to follow in Renaud’s footsteps.
“It’s definitely special,” he said. “You learn so many things going through that, (losing) a great friend in Mick.
“It’s special for me.”
Flames scout Tom Webster lives in Windsor and attends a lot of the Spitfires games, so Nemisz was hoping his named would be called when Darryl Sutter took to the podium.
The Calgary GM was familiar with him because of Renaud.
“He’s a kid that I’ve seen lots of in the last couple years from having Mickey in Windsor,” said Sutter.
It was a busy night for the Flames, who made two significant trades along with drafting Nemisz. Calgary acquired winger Mike Cammalleri from the Los Angeles Kings and shipped winger Alex Tanguay to the Montreal Canadiens.
Sutter expects Cammalleri to fill Tanguay’s role on the team.
“I didn’t think that we’d be able to replace (Tanguay) as quick as we did,” he said. “I thought it would take time. We were quite lucky the way it worked out.”
The Tanguay deal brought them the pick that they used to select Nemisz.
The 18-year-old had a solid season in Windsor and put up 67 points (33-34) in 68 games. He’ll be back there again next season and won’t be rushed along.
“We’re glad to get him,” said Sutter. “He’s a big kid, he’s got good hands, he protects the puck well and can score goals.
“He’s just got to grow into it. I think he’s going to be a good NHL player.”
Nemisz is excited that he’ll have the chance to play in front of Flames fans at that Saddledome one day.
The native of Courtice, Ont., is thrilled to be staying in his home country.
“It’s just amazing,” said Nemisz. “You can’t have a better day when you get drafted by a Canadian team.”