Newark, N.J. — It look a while, two years to be exact, but Rouyn-Noranda Huskies star Sven Andrighetto finally heard his name called at the NHL draft.
The Montreal Canadiens selected him in the third round, 86th overall, ending his lengthy wait. The Swiss national had his family at the Prudential Center for the festivities and there was a celebration in the stands when his name was finally called.
“It was so exciting,” said Andrighetto wearing his new Canadiens ballcap and jersey. “I don’t know how to describe it. It was an unbelievable feeling to get called my name. Of course I was disappointed last year, but I worked really hard for this. Now I’m even more happier here to be with the Montreal Canadiens.”
Andrigetto said he spoke to a number of NHL teams prior to the draft, including the Canadiens and that he had a good feeling this year about getting drafted.
The knock against the native of Zurich, Switzerland, has always been his size. He's listed at a generous 5-foot-10 and 180-pounds. But despite his small size, Andrighetto has been an offensive force with the Huskies in the past two seasons. He credits former Rouyn-Noranda head coach, Andre Tourigny, who recently joined the Colorado Avalanche as an assistant coach, for giving an opportunity.
"I think Andre helped me a lot, he gave me a chance and I grabbed it, too," said the 20-year-old forward. "I know about my size, but I can't change my size, so I have to do other stuff better. I have to be better than guys who are bigger, I have to be more physical.
"It's always been about my size but I don't think about it because I don't think it's an issue anymore."
It certainly wasn't an issue for him in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he's used his speed and skill to become one of the league's premier forwards. Over his two seasons in Rouyn-Noranda, he's scored 172 points - 67 goals and 105 assists - in 115 regular season games. He and linemate Nikita Kucherov, a second round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, terrorized teams in the playoffs this year, with Andrighetto scoring 40 points - eight goals and 22 assists - in only 14 QMJHL playoff games. He helped the Huskies upset the favoured Quebec Remparts to advance to the league semifinal, where they were eliminated by the eventual QMJHL champions, the Halifax Mooseheads.
"I think playoffs is the best time of they year," said Andrigetto. "That's when all the players are stepping up and I think I did, too. No one expected us to go as far as we did, so I think it was a great playoffs for me and for all the Huskies."
Andrigetto was also a member of Team Switzerland at the world junior championships the last two years. In this year's tournament had five goals and three assists in six games and was one of his country's best players. He said the NHL draft is a big deal in Switzerland and seeing the success of current players can only bode well for a nation that is currently enjoying a lot of international success.
"I think Swiss hockey has improved a lot," said Andrighetto. "We can see it now not only with the world juniors but also the world championship where we ended up in the final game.
"I think we're coming and you can see it now because we have some players in the NHL already. If you look maybe 10 years ago there was maybe one. And the good thing is there's more coming to the NHL."
And Andrighetto hopes to be among them one day soon.