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Sudbury and the Wolves involved nicely in NHL draft

After sitting idly on the sidelines for a small handful of NHL Entry Drafts, the Sudbury Wolves (and the City of Sudbury, in general) have made it a point to be part of the festivities in a more meaningful way in recent years.

The 2024 dispersal of hockey talent was no different as a pair of Wolves' player and one former teammate joined SMHA product Sam McCue in celebrating their selection to the greatest hockey league in the world this past weekend.

Forward Nathan Villeneuve kicked things off when he joined 2023-2024 Sudbury captain David Goyette as a prospect of the Seattle Kraken, chosen in the second round, 63rd overall.

Coming off a sophomore season in which he registered 23 goals and 27 assists in addition to earning countless accolades for his all-around game and fiery competitiveness, the 5'11" centre does not appear to have been hurt in the least by the one-off that was his late season league-issued suspension.

"Villeneuve is an all-around forward who plays with a good pace and isn't afraid to mix it up along the boards," noted Steven Ellis of Daily Faceoff.

"His energy and feistiness will give him a shot in the NHL, even if he doesn't have the pure skill to burn."

Four rounds later, the Winnipeg Jets laid claim to a player who might well turn out to be an outstanding sleeper pick.

While the numbers for Kieron Walton (18 goals / 25 assists) were not staggering, those who watched the Wolves all season know just how limited the opportunity to shine was for the 6'6" forward drafted 187th overall, playing on a very deep Sudbury squad up front.

"He is a skilled passer, capable of slipping pucks underneath a defender's stick to open teammates driving the net," noted the scouting report on Elite Prospects.

They also could have highlighted his ability to gain a step on defensemen, especially entering the zone wide and then use his big bodied frame to shield a direct attack to the crease.

In the 7th and final round of the draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs would select Sudbury native and Owen Sound Attack forward Sam McCue, who joined his brother Max (5th rd - 2021 - San Jose Sharks) as an NHL draft pick.

Traded from the Peterborough Petes to the Attack midway through this past season, McCue netted 23 goals and added 14 assists and combines these skills with a decent dose of grit and physicality.

A fifth round pick of the Sudbury Wolves in 2022, since departed blueliner Owen Protz continues to develop nicely, the 6'1" blueliner chosen in the 4th round by the Montreal Canadiens (102nd overall) on Saturday.

Unfortunately for local junior hockey fans, Protz is now a member of the Brantford Bulldogs, a key part of the trade that sent defenseman Noah Van Vliet to Sudbury.

And in other Sudbury-related hockey news, free agent forward Tyler Bertuzzi will join former Wolves' product Nick Foligno and Lasalle Secondary graduate Kyle Davidson (General Manager) with the Chicago Blackhawks after inking a four year $22M deal on July 1st.

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