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Five players with Maritime connections picked in 2024 NHL draft

Spencer Gill is pictured playing for the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic. (Courtesy: QMJHL) Spencer Gill is pictured playing for the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic. (Courtesy: QMJHL)

At least five players with Maritime connections were selected during this weekend’s 2024 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Leading the way was Spencer Gill of Riverview, N.B., who was chosen in the second round, 59th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers.

The 6’4”, 185 pound defenceman scored twelve goals and 34 assists for 46 total points with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) during the 2023-24 regular season.

Gill, a graduate of the Moncton Flyers Major Under-18 hockey program, was also the first among fifteen QMJHL players selected in Friday and Saturday’s draft.

It’s the first time since Nathan MacKinnon of Cole Harbour, N.S., was picked first overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013 that the first QMJHL player picked in the NHL Draft was from the Maritimes.

“It’s a great situation for the Maritimes, maybe a little unexpected,” said Will MacLaren, a writer for The Hockey News and who lives in Cole Harbour.

“Spencer Gill had to overcome some injury woes (during the 2023-24 season), but when he is on the ice he stands out. He is very talented in all three zones, and of course playing for the Memorial Cup host in 2025 he’s just going to get more and more looks. He’s just going to get stronger and better.”

The next player with a Maritime connection to be chosen was Cape Breton Eagles defenceman Tomas Lavoie, who was picked in the third round, 89th overall, by the new Utah Hockey Club (formerly the Arizona Coyotes).

One pick later, left winger Eriks Mateiko of the Saint John Sea Dogs was selected by the Washington Capitals.

Lavoie, 6’4” and 220 lbs, hails from Repentigny, Q.C., Mateiko is originally from Latvia.

MacLaren said that Lavoie in particular has a style of game that could translate well to the NHL level, adding he benefited from Cape Breton’s lengthy playoff run in 2024 and has a chance at another with the Eagles in 2025.

“The more exposure he can get in front of scouts for the Utah Hockey Club, the better off he’s going to be,” MacLaren said. “He’s got the opportunity to make the most of a lot of situations coming his way.”

In the fourth round of the NHL Draft, Lavoie’s Cape Breton teammate Jakub Milota, a goaltender, was chosen by the Nashville Predators with the 99th overall pick.

Milota, a native of Czechia, had a record of 18 wins, 11 losses and an overtime loss, along with a 2.82 goals-against average and .905 save percentage, during a strong rookie campaign with the Eagles in 2023-24.

Rounding out this year’s Maritime connections to the NHL Draft was centre Gabe Smith of the Moncton Wildcats.

The St. Andrews, N.B., native and graduate of the Kennebecasis Valley minor hockey program was chosen in the fourth round, 103rd overall, by the Utah Hockey Club.

“I saw a guy with a nose for the net,” MacLaren said of Smith. “Most of his goals are going to come from five feet out or closer, but he works hard for them and he works hard for his teammates. He plays very mistake-free hockey.”

MacLaren said while having just two Maritimers chosen in this year’s NHL Draft may be a low total compared to most years, he sees that as being mostly a symptom of a weak draft year for the QMJHL in general adding that when the Q League has an overall stronger draft class, it will probably result in more Maritimers being NHL-drafted.

MacKinnon in 2013 and Sidney Crosby in 2005 are the two Maritimers who have been chosen first overall in the NHL Draft. Top Stories

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