By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
There is a chance that Austin Madaisky could hear his name called during the first round of the NHL draft on Friday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
But the Kamloops Blazers defenceman needed better odds than that to get him to attend the draft.
Which is why he is planning to go on vacation and may well be in Mexico on the weekend.
“I remember Don Cherry saying . . . if you're not a guaranteed first-rounder, don't go to the draft,” Madaisky says.
The first round will be held Friday evening, with the remaining six rounds scheduled for Saturday in the home of the Los Angeles Kings.
Madaisky, who is from Surrey, is represented by Newport Sports Management and has been in close contact with agents Craig Oster and Jason Taylor.
“There's a totally different atmosphere the first day,” Madaisky reasons. “There's tons of media; the place is sold out and there's a great feeling about the place. The second day you come back and there's nobody there. In talking with Jason and Craig, they just said try to keep it as positive an experience as possible.”
So that is what Madaisky will do . . . by going on vacation.
There is little doubt but that Madaisky, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen in January, will be the first of several draft-eligible Blazers to be selected. As far as he's concerned, though, he's more concerned with the where than the when.
“It's not really when I go; that's not really what I'm concerned about,” he explains. “I'm more concerned about going to a team that wants me and knows what I'm about. I don't want a team drafting me that thinks I'm something that I'm not.”
It also is important, he says, “to be drafted into a situation where I'm going to have an opportunity to play as soon as possible.”
In other words, he wants this draft to lead him to the right place at the right time.
“Exactly,” he says.
For an example of that, he looks no further than Paul Postma, a defenceman with whom he was teammates on the 2008-09 Calgary Hitmen.
“He was one of the last picks in his draft year and he has a legitimate chance to make the Thrashers next season,” Madaisky says of Postma, who was the 205th player taken of the 211 selected in the 2007 NHL draft and played last season with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.
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The Blazers acquired Madaisky and centre Chase Schaber from the Hitmen on Jan. 10, in exchange for forwards Jimmy Bubnick and Tyler Shattock, along with defenceman Zak Stebner.
The Hitmen reached the WHL final in 2008-09, losing to the Kelowna Rockets in six games. Madaisky was on the Calgary roster but dressed for only two playoff games.
Madaisky improved in leaps and bounds after arriving here from Calgary. And he was as dominating as any player on either team in the Vancouver Giants' first-round sweep of the Blazers. After totaling 27 points, including seven goals, in 65 regular-season games, Madaisky put up six points, with a team-high three goals, in the four playoff games.
“I can't really put my finger on one thing,” he says, when asked how he was able to take his game to a higher level in the playoffs. “I guess it was just really looking to myself to bring my intensity to another level.”
One thing that he says made a big difference was knowing his role and that he was going to be given ample ice time by head coach Guy Charron.
“I was expecting to play big minutes, and I knew that, so I kind of got in that mental state, knowing I was going to have to play against (Vancouver captain Lance) Bouma and stuff,” Madaisky says. “I loved it. It was the most fun I have ever had playing hockey.
“I also felt it was the best I have played ever since I can remember. The points just seemed to be coming. I was playing more physical. I just tried to really focus on bringing a new level of intensity to the game.”
Despite Madaisky's superb play, the Blazers were swept by the Giants. But you can bet that Madaisky really wanted to keep on playing.
“Oh yeah,” he says. “No kidding.”
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Madaisky was ranked 57th among draft-eligible North American skaters when NHL Central Scouting released its final ratings. It is safe to assume his late-season and playoff performance moved him up at least a bit higher than that.
B.J. MacDonald, a Central Scouting employee who spends a lot of time watching western prospects, told NHL.com: "He's not overly physical but he uses his body well in positioning in his own zone. He plays the power play regularly and has an offensive creative side. His skating and mobility is good. Not flashy, but gets the job done. I like the way he thinks and he shows underrated potential.”
As it turned out, being traded to Kamloops was the best thing that could have happened to Madaisky.
“In talking to scouts, they say the same thing,” he says. “My season was divided into two halves. My first half in Calgary, they say I was on the radar, but . . .
“When I came to Kamloops, I legitimately became a top prospect. They said it was a great move for myself. I had way more fun in Kamloops.”
Madaisky talked with a lot of NHL people during the scouting combine in Toronto in late May. It was, he says, “a great experience.”
“It was excellent,” he adds. “I think I did really well on the physical test and for the most part my interviews went really well. Some interviews felt like they went a little better than others, but on the whole it was pretty positive.”
While at the combine, Madaisky was interviewed by officials from 11 NHL teams. The Vancouver Canucks, his favourite team, weren't one of them.
However, he says, “that doesn't really matter.”
What matters is getting an opportunity to be in the right place at the right time as his hockey career progresses.